Long Term Drug Rehab

Most addicts dread the idea of long term drug rehab, but nobody gets into it without going through a few other levels first.  That’s because rehabilitation centers are held responsible to meet criteria set forth by governing agencies.  In the United States, it’s the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA, available at http://www.samhsa.gov), established by the federal government’s Department of Health and Human Services.

These criteria dictate that before a person can enter long term drug rehab, he must try and fail at one of the less acute levels of treatment.  Usually someone begins with outpatient treatment-attending one or two sessions a week with a counselor trained in addiction treatment.

After six to eight weeks of this initial level of treatment, the counselor evaluates his client’s progress.  If his addiction has worsened, he is referred to IOP-intensive outpatient treatment.  IOP is still outpatient care, but the addict attends either group or individual sessions for 10 to 12 hours per week.  He can go to school if he’s an adolescent, or to work if he’s an adult, and then participate in treatment in the evening.

The next level is partial hospitalization.  The client still lives at home, but he spends most of his days at a treatment center.  This is often helpful for someone with concomitant mental health issues.  Sometimes, this level of care is bypassed.

When all these levels of treatment have failed, then long term drug rehab is recommended.  The client lives at this kind of facility.  Some treatment centers offer 30-day programs.  Others run 45 days, 60 days, 90 days, or even longer.

The idea behind residential recovery programs is that it totally interrupts the addict’s life.  That interruption was not achieved when the person could go to counseling, then go home and get high.  Now, he’s forced to take a good look at his need for recovery.  It also provides him an opportunity to heal his relationships with his family members.  So just what goes on in a long drug term rehab center?

You just can’t walk into a place and be admitted.  If someone overdoses or they’re experiencing severe detox symptoms, he belongs in a hospital!  Getting into residential treatment begins with an assessment-just like the other levels of care.  If the client meets established parameters, an admission date is scheduled.

On the dreaded Admission Day, the client says goodbye to whoever brought him.  He brings a week’s worth of clothes.  Most rehab centers skip a full body search, but he can expect to be patted down for “contraband”-illegal drugs or alcohol.  And most rehab centers restrict the person from having money, cell phones, or other devices that connect them with the outside world.  He is assigned to a dreaded counselor who will meet with him for individual counseling sessions.  He will meet a case manager-also dreaded-who will look after his everyday needs-doctor appointments, a request to his family, or coordination with local agencies.

Most long term drug rehabs function on closely supervised schedules.  From waking to bedtime, every hour of activity is planned.  Throughout the day the client participates in planned activities such as group counseling sessions or 12-step meetings.  These sessions usually follow an established curriculum of topics.  He is also assigned responsibilities and chores within the center.  Visits with family are limited to once a week, and they usually follow a group family session in which all clients’ families participate.  Phone calls and mail are limited.

Will residential treatment lead the client to a full recovery?  Just like the celebrities you’ve read about in the news, some people succeed right away, and other people need several attempts.  Eventually, however, most people do assimilate what they’ve learned in long term drug rehab and incorporate it into their everyday lives.  They even go back to visit the dreaded place!


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