Making the decision to enter residential drug treatment--also sometimes called "inpatient treatment" --can be quite a difficult one to come to. It's often the last resort for addicts that have previously tried to get clean with the help of lesser methods and have relapsed. Residential treatment is the next, far more drastic, step on the long path towards full recovery. It requires relinquishing ego, asking for the help of others, and it means that (at least for a time) you must leave your normal life behind and dive head-first into the waters of recovery.
Residential drug treatment is standardized care for people struggling with drug addiction that can be administered in a controlled, full-time live-in facility for a designated length of stay. (The lengths of stay can vary, depending on the needs of each individual patient.) While reasonably comfortable, a residential facility offers 24-hour care, supervision, and support. It's also an environment specifically designed to be devoid of any temptation from alcohol or drugs.
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For years, residential treatment has been a staple among celebrities in Hollywood, so if you're considering finding a residential drug treatment facility, you're in good company! Everyone from Drew Barrymore to Britney Spears to Robert Downey Jr has benefited from the controlled environment a residential facility offers, and you should find no shame in it. In fact, if anything, it should be a source of pride. 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 monitored support, the primary benefit of residential drug treatment is access to a ready-built therapeutic community. People in residential drug treatment are immersed in a recovery environment in which every single person there is dedicated to breaking the ravaging cycle of drug addiction, and when you eventually leave the facility, you will have made friends and connections that you can continue to lean on for a lifetime. Leaning on your recovery community will help guard against the threat of relapse.
There are two main kinds of residential drug treatment, and they each have their benefits.
Short-term residential programs involve relatively brief stays in the treatment center and are usually based around a modified 12-step plan. Originally involving a 3 to 6-week inpatient treatment phase and designed specifically for alcohol addiction, they now have been modified to address many other kids of drug abuse disorders. After stays in residential treatment programs, individuals must remain engaged in outpatient treatment programs and/or aftercare programs. This helps to reduce the risk of relapse.
Long-term residential treatment is a 24-hour care model, and usually has a non-hospital-like setting. While there usually is no set time, these facilities usually have planned lengths of stay between 6 and 12 months. The therapeutic community within a long-term residential treatment facility is key, and it usually focuses on the "resocialization" of the addict and changing toxic behaviors.
People often want to know exactly how long their stay in a residential drug treatment facility will last-- whether it needs to be short term or long term--but unfortunately there's no one-size-fits-all answer. It may depend upon the severity of your addiction, how long you can be gone from your everyday personal obligations, how long you can be absent from work, and at what pace your recovery can realistically move. The most successful programs (measured by the the lowest rates of relapse) tend to be the programs that, as a rule, do not have a set time for release, and instead focus on creating customized treatment programs for each individual patient. Everyone's path to recovery is different and moves at its own pace, so doing away with a specific time pressure allows for the best chance at remaining sober after discharge.
The people who stand to benefit the most from a residential drug treatment stay are usually at a high risk of suffering from withdrawal from the drugs they've been taking, have already gone through a relapse in the past, or have tried a less intensive level of treatment and found that it did not work. They may also struggle with a secondary mental health issue that may also need to be addressed.
Another extremely important factor to consider is whether you have a healthy and supportive home environment where your recovery can be given the priority it deserves. If you do, perhaps short-term residential treatment could work for you. If you don't have a fully supportive home environment, a more long-term residential treatment program where you will have a built-in system of support and an environment devoid of temptation over a longer period of time might be the most effective option.
Many drug addicts resist residential drug treatment at first, because the idea of leaving their life behind even for a short time can be scary and off-putting. After all, everyone has obligations in their normal life, and a stay in a residential treatment facility requires putting all of those on hold or making complex arrangements to ensure that things are handled while you work on getting clean. It requires informing the important people in your life of your plans, which can be unnerving. But as difficult as it can be, the challenges of prepping your normal life to allow you to get away are well worth it to break free from the crippling yoke of drug addiction.
Making the decision to check yourself into a residential drug treatment program is difficult; it may just be one of the most trying times in your life. But remember that your decision also has an effect on everyone around you. It affects your family that loves you, as it's incredibly hard to be without someone you love for a long period of time. 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 might not know how to proceed. Try to be mindful of the fact that while you may be the one battling drug addiction, there are others that are standing bravely behind you and facing it with you, every step of the way.
What can you do to make it easier for the ones you love? Communication is key. Friends and family want to know that you're ok while you're undergoing treatment, and the more that you communicate, the better. Communication also has immense benefits for your recovery. Having strong ties to your normal life will make you feel secure and grounded while you work on getting clean, and you'll be that much more likely to succeed.
Before you enter a residential drug treatment facility, you need to be sure to take care of work obligations. Make sure that you disclose your upcoming rehab stay to your employer (verbally and in writing) as soon as you possibly can. You are legally entitled to up to 12 weeks of medical leave, through the Family and Medical Leave Act, 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 care for older loved ones, or have children or pets you're responsible for, you will need to make special arrangements for them to be taken care of while you're away completing your treatment. Make sure you make arrangements with family or friends-- 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!) Your recovery will be difficult enough, and you do not need to come back to a mountain of financial mess.
Write letters or keep a journal. Documenting your journey is extremely helpful 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 of them. Journaling is also a fantastic method for keeping your mind active and focused on the positive aspects of your recovery, and this will help to keep you from relapsing after your stay in the treatment facility is over.
Following a detox protocol, treatment at a residential drug treatment facility usually involves individual and group therapy, as well as other activities including individual chemical health assessments, mental health services, medical appointments, family program participation, spiritual care, educational and experiential workshops, and continuing care planning.
Your timeline for checking out of residential drug 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, preparing yourself for the transition will give you the best chances at staying clean.
Before you arrive back home, direct friends or family to remove any tempting substances (like any illicit drugs) from your home. It's important that there's nothing around to make it more challenging for you to stay sober. Also, speak to your family and friends--honestly--about the need for them not to bring those substances back into your house or use them around you. They will do whatever is necessary to help you.
Use a calendar to plan out your basic schedule before you return back home. Mark down the obligations you know that you have (like going to work, taking kids to school every day 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. Planning ahead is key for recovering addicts. This healthy habit will help you know what's coming several days ahead and will give you time 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, and the more you can reduce that risk ahead of time, the smaller your chance of relapse will be.
Plan a couple carefully chosen activities to do with friends that you can be sure ahead of time will definitely not involve drugs or alcohol. You could cook dinner, go to a movie, or go for a hike-anything that you enjoyed doing before you had to enter treatment. After you've been away receiving care 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 wise choices. 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 personal work and growth. So, you make the first move and schedule some activities that will be enjoyable for all involved. And again-make sure there won't be any substances that could possibly tempt you. Make sure you make your friends aware of this important rule.
It's important to give yourself credit for making the choice to undergo residential drug treatment. It's a big decision that requires a great deal of courage and conviction and it's imperative that you learn to recognize and accept that. You're making a choice to put yourself and those that you love before drugs--a noble choice indeed. So give yourself credit, be proud, and get focused on the road ahead. You're on the right path.