Agreeing to be admitted for inpatient treatment is one of the hardest decisions to make for someone struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, because it requires the ego to break in half, accept defeat, and ask for help. It requires us to surrender to the help and advice of others. And, it means that (at least for a time) we have to leave our normal lives behind and dive head-first into the waters of recovery.
Inpatient (or "residential") drug treatment is standardized medical and psychological care for people struggling with alcohol or drug addiction that can be administered in a controlled, full-time live-in facility for a designated length of stay. (Inpatient treatment lengths of stay can vary, depending on the situation and the needs of the patient.) It's the next step beyond outpatient treatment, (in which a patient returns to their home and normal life every night to sleep in their own bed) and it's often the last resort for addicts that have previously tried to get clean with the help of lesser methods and have relapsed. Inpatient treatment is the next, far more drastic, step on the long path towards full recovery.
Sometimes inpatient treatment occurs in a hospital, but more often than not, it's in a more residential setting. While reasonably comfortable, an inpatient facility offers 24-hour care, support, and supervision. It's also an environment designed to be devoid of any temptation to stray from the path of a total abstinence when it comes to addictive substances.
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For years, inpatient treatment has been a staple among celebrities in Hollywood, so if you're considering finding an inpatient treatment facility, you're in good company! Everyone from Ben Affleck to Selena Gomez to John Hamm has benefited from the controlled environment an inpatient treatment facility offers, and you should find no shame in it. In fact, if anything, it should be a source of pride. If you're investigating your options for inpatient treatment, it means you've not only decided to face your greatest enemy (addiction) but you're also willing to do it in the strongest, and most committed way possible. You're off to fantastic start!
In addition to 24/7 support, the primary benefit of inpatient therapy is access to the therapeutic community at large. People in inpatient facilities are immersed in a recovery environment in which every single person there is dedicated to breaking the ravaging cycle of addiction, and when you eventually leave the facility, you will have made friends and connections in the recovery community that you can continue to lean on for a lifetime.
People often want to know exactly how long a stay in an inpatient treatment facility will last, but unfortunately there's no one-size-fits-all answer. It may depend upon how long you can realistically be gone from your everyday obligations, how long you can be absent from work, and at what pace your recovery treatment is moving. The most successful inpatient programs (meaning the ones that have the lowest rates of relapse) tend to be the programs that, as a rule, do not have a set time for release, and instead strive to create treatment programs that are customized to the needs of each individual client. Everyone's recovery journey is different and moves at its own pace, so the absence of a specific time pressure allows for the best chance at staying sober after discharge.
While there's no set rule, it's worth mentioning that people who stand to benefit the most from an inpatient level of addiction treatment usually are people who are at a high risk of suffering from withdrawal (either from alcohol or drugs), have already gone through a relapse in the past, or have tried a less intensive level of treatment but weren't able to remain sober. They may also struggle with a secondary mental health issue (such as depression or PTSD) that may also need to be treated.
Another extremely important factor to consider is whether you have a healthy and supportive home environment where your recovery will be considered a top priority. If you do, a slightly less intensive program—like outpatient treatment--could work for you. If you don't have a fully supportive home environment, a residential treatment program where you will have a built-in system of support and an environment devoid of temptation will probably be the most effective option.
Many drug and alcohol addicts resist inpatient treatment at first, because the idea of leaving their life behind even for a short time and immersing totally in the act of getting clean can be scary and off-putting. After all, everyone has obligations in their normal life, and inpatient treatment requires putting all of those on hold, or at the very least, making complex arrangements to ensure that things are handled while they are away. It requires informing the important people in your life of your plans, and that can be a bit unnerving as well. But as difficult as it can be, the challenges of prepping your normal life to allow you to get away for inpatient treatment pale in comparison the crippling yoke of drug addiction.
Making the decision to check yourself into an inpatient treatment facility is hard; it may just be one of the most trying times in your life. But we have to remember that your drug or alcohol addiction (and the subsequent need to get clean) has an effect on everyone around you. It affects your family that loves you, as it's incredibly difficult to watch someone you love go through symptoms that make them look, act, and speak like someone you've never even met before. It also affects your work colleagues who will probably need to carry more of the weight while you go through your recovery, and it affects your friends, who want to help you but may not know exactly how. Try to be mindful of the fact that while you may be the one facing your demons, there are others that are standing bravely behind you and facing them too.
What can you do to make it easier for the ones you love? Communicate, communicate, communicate. Friends and family want to know that you're ok while you're undergoing treatment, and the more that you reach out, the better off they will be. Communication has immense benefits for you as well. Having strong ties to your normal life will make you feel secure and grounded while you go through your recovery, and you'll be that much more likely to succeed.
Before you enter an inpatient treatment facility, you must be sure to take care of family and work obligations. Make sure that you disclose your upcoming rehab stay to your employer, both verbally and in writing, and the sooner you can let them know, the better. Through the Family and Medical Leave Act, you are legally entitled to up to 12 weeks of medical leave, and your job will be protected during your stay in rehab. But it's imperative that you properly disclose and document what is happening.
If you have children, pets, or care for older loved ones, you will need to make special arrangements for them to be cared for while you're away completing your inpatient treatment. You won't be able to easily help them once you enter the facility, so make sure you think of everything they may need. When making arrangements with family or friends, make sure it's someone you trust so that your mind can be totally at ease while you're away and recovering.
Also, remember to take care of any financial loose ends. (It may be helpful to make a list for yourself, so that you don't forget any!) If bills need to be paid while you're in treatment, you can sign up for automatic payments or you can arrange for someone that you trust to make the payments, so that all the bills are taken care of. Your journey through inpatient treatment will be difficult enough, and you do not need to come back after going through that journey and have to tackle a mountain of financial mess.
Write letters or keep a journal. Documenting your journey and your progress is extremely helpful throughout your recovery, and you'll want to be able to check in with yourself and express your feelings. So, be sure to pack a blank journal or diary to bring with you and be ready to commit to writing in it every day. You might want to reflect on your feelings after its all over, and this way you'll have a record. Journaling is also a helpful way to keep your mind active and focused on the positive aspects of your recovery. Your thoughts committed to paper will come in handy down the road, long after you've finished your treatment, because you'll be able to read back through it, remember how everything felt, and this will help to keep you from relapsing.
Following a detox protocol, treatment at an inpatient facility usually involves a great deal of individual and group therapy, as well as wellness and fitness activities. Other activities may include: group therapy to address chemical health, individual chemical health assessments and therapy, integrated mental health services with mental health practitioners (may include individual, group and family therapy), individual mental health assessments and therapy, medical appointments, wellness and fitness activities, family program participation, nutritional assessment, spiritual care, educational and experiential workshops, and continuing care planning.
Since the most successful programs offer no standard set time frame for leaving treatment, your timeline for checking out of inpatient treatment will depend on your progress and how fully you commit to the hard work of getting clean. Once you are, indeed, ready to leave and return to your normal life, it's helpful to prepare yourself for the transition. Preparing yourself will give you the best chances at staying clean.
Before you arrive back, ask friends or family to remove any tempting substances (like alcohol or drugs) from your home. It's important that there's nothing around to make it more challenging for you to stay sober. Also, make a point to speak to your family and friends--honestly but gently--about the need for them not to bring those substances back into your house or use them around you. They care about you and will want to help, but it may not be something they automatically think of unless you address it directly.
Use a calendar to mark down your schedule before you return home. Mark down the obligations you know that you have (like taking kids to school every day, going to work, and doctors' appointments, etc.) If you mark everything down in one easy-to-read place, you will be able to see what your schedule will be like over the long term. This will help you know what's coming, and to get prepared for it. The whole point of laying your schedule out beforehand is to reduce any unexpected life stressors that may encourage you to break your sobriety, as the more you can mitigate that risk ahead of time, the better your chances of staying clean will be.
Plan a couple carefully chosen activities to do with friends that will not involve drugs or alcohol. After you've been in treatment for a while, you'll want to return to doing the fun things in your normal life, but you need to make sure that they are safe and free of temptation. Your friends will probably be wanting to hang out but may not know the best way to approach you since you've just gone through a difficult period of treatment. So, you make the first move and schedule some activities that will be enjoyable.
It's important to give yourself credit for making the choice to undergo inpatient treatment. It's a big decision that take a great deal of courage and conviction. You're making a choice to put yourself and those that you love before drugs and alcohol, and that is a noble choice indeed. So give yourself credit, be proud, and get focused on the road ahead. You're on the right path.