Residential treatment for drug abuse and addiction has existed for 40 years. Residential treatment, also known as therapeutic communities are located in residential settings and use a hierarchical model with treatment stages that reflect increased levels of personal and social responsibility. Peer influence, mediated through a variety of group processes, is used to help individuals learn and assimilate social norms and develop more effective social skills.
Residential treatment is different than other treatment methods in many ways. Individuals are able to leave their destructive environment and enter into a clean and sober atmosphere. Their reminders of drugs such as the cabinet where they kept their alcohol or the drawer where they kept their stash are no longer a temptation reminding them of their drug addiction. Additionally, individuals are able to associate with others who share their same goal of addiction recovery 24 hours a day 7 days a week. This availability of individuals and staff at any hour is invaluable when a person is going through residential drug treatment.
The idea behind residential treatment is that the individual suffering from drug addiction is able to live in an environment which is drug free. They begin to see how to live life without drugs and alcohol through their time spent away from their previous environment. As time progresses they are able to handle more and more responsibility within the residential treatment facility and are expected to be part of the community in which they live. This means helping those who are just beginning as well as those around them.
The Drug Abuse Treatment Outcome Study (DATOS), the most recent long-term study of drug treatment outcomes, showed that those who successfully completed residential treatment had lower levels of cocaine, heroin, and alcohol use; criminal behavior; unemployment and indicators of depression than they had before residential treatment.
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