Living with an alcohol or drug addiction is one of the hardest things to do. Recovery can sometimes seem like a battle, and it’s hard to know what your best choices are. Many people, when they first start the recovery process for an addiction, become overwhelmed when considering inpatient or residential treatment. A residential treatment program does remove you from most regular aspects of your life — but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There are multiple advantages that residential treatment has over outpatient treatment. Which treatment option is best will depend heavily on your circumstances.
A Structured Recovery Process
No matter what path your recovery takes, it will have some form of structure. But inpatient treatment offers a level of structure that you won’t find elsewhere. You’ll have a strict daily schedule that allows you to focus your energy into recovery.
The scheduled daily structure helps to prevent relapse in a few different ways. First, the supervision and scheduling make it difficult for you to obtain your substance of choice when you have a craving. Second, when your day is packed wall-to-wall with activities, you have less active time to think about alcohol or drugs. Mental cravings have a far lower chance of developing. Third, when mental cravings do develop, you have immediate access to trained support staff who can help you through the issue.
Most addiction relapses happen in the early stages of recovery. These are the times during which physical withdrawal symptoms are the worst. The combination of physical and mental cravings tends to drive addicts to relapse.
Another danger in the early days is that an addict might not yet have learned coping skills to deal with triggers. Alcoholism and drug abuse are often ways of self-medicating a mental health problem. Without treating the underlying mental health issue, the chances of returning to that self-medication are much higher.
Environmental Triggers and Avoiding Them
Relapse is often caused by environmental triggers. Environmental triggers are stressors in your day-to-day life that increase your cravings for your substance of choice. It’s common for environmental triggers to be related to work stress, familial stress, and general stress generated from the circumstances of your life.
When your recovery is done on an outpatient basis, you do have the benefit of being able to continue attending school or going to work. But you’re also still exposed to the stresses inherent in these environments. You’re also exposed to any stresses you might encounter at home.
Outpatient recovery fits your recovery in around your day-to-day life. When people have strong environmental triggers, it’s almost impossible for this approach to succeed. You cannot recover successfully if you are constantly exposed to stimuli that causes you to want to relapse. You also cannot learn your coping mechanisms as thoroughly.
There isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” answer to environmental triggers. They won’t be fully addressed in one therapy session. You’ll need to explore the cause of the stress along with healthy ways of dealing with the stress. If the stress is caused by another person, you’ll probably need to have group therapy sessions to establish boundaries and work together on mitigating the stress.
The easiest way to approach all of this is on an outpatient basis. When you’re removed from the environment that’s causing you harm, it’s easier to focus fully on your treatment and your goals for the future.
Residential Treatment Versus Inpatient Programs
Inpatient programs and residential treatment programs are often referred to using the same terminology. Indeed, many residential treatment facilities offer both “residential” and “inpatient” services. Sometimes, no distinction is made regarding what qualifies as an inpatient versus residential program. When a distinction is drawn, however, it tends to be based around the length of time the stay lasts.
Inpatient programs are generally structured to last for a period covering several weeks. Many programs last for twelve weeks, although both shorter and longer programs are available. Residential programs, on the other hand, might be employed on an open-ended basis. This means that there is no set end date to the patient’s care. Alternatively, residential programs may be programs that last for periods of six months or more.
A residential treatment program is ideal for patients whose recovery is expected to take a significant amount of time. Oftentimes, these are the ideal programs for people with medication-resistant mental illness or multiple previous failed recovery attempts. They’re also good for people whose environments are unsafe for them to return to. When there are too many potential environmental triggers to explore and address in a three-month program, a longer program might be your best bet.
Similarities Between Inpatient and Residential Care
Residential care and inpatient programs both offer the same advantages over outpatient care. They’ll also take similar approaches to your recovery. Depending on the program you use and the facility with which you enroll, you can expect the following from residential and inpatient care:
- A safe, controlled environment in which you can explore your addiction
- Access to mental health professionals who can diagnose and treat underlying mental health issues
- Access to physical health professionals who can help with physical symptoms of withdrawal and physical cravings
- Counselors and behavioral therapists who will offer perspective and teach vital coping mechanisms
- Creative therapies such as journaling, music therapy, and art therapy
- Family therapy to heal old hurts and set healthy boundaries
- Group therapy to gain support and perspective from other people who have the same struggles
The main point of a residential treatment facility is this: Everything about the structure is meant to help prevent relapses both during your initial recovery and in the future. Rehab facilities use proven mental health methodology to help patients have a higher success rate in recovery.
For more information, call 888-380-0342 and speak to one of our trained counselors. We’re available at all times to help you on the road to recovery.