Each year, thousands of people in the United States alone try drugs, alcohol, and other intoxicants, and some become dependent on one or more substances to make it through the day. This in itself is tragic, but it’s made worse by the fact that only around 11 percent of people who have an addiction disorder receive treatment. This is due in part to a lack of education around addiction treatment fueled by a widespread social stigma against the problem.
The truth is that addiction is a mental illness, not a personal failure or weakness, and few can get off their drug of choice without some kind of professional help. When it comes to highly addictive, dangerous, and/or illicit drugs like alcohol, heroin, and some prescription medications, treatment may need to be intensive. There are several options for addiction treatment, but in many cases, inpatient rehabilitation is the most effective.
The point of this kind of program is to eliminate the chance of relapse during the treatment period. Clients will not have any access to their drug of choice, and will only be allowed medications prescribed by a doctor that are administered under direct supervision. This is helpful for addicted persons who are struggling with intense cravings, which can last for months or years after intake of the drug has stopped.
During this period, clients are engaged in daily activities and treatment regimens that can include individual and/or group therapy, support group meetings, and a variety of workshops designed to teach addicted people helpful life skills, impulse control tactics, and give them the tools needed to cope with life after rehab, including craving triggers and temptations.
Inpatient rehab isn’t for everyone, as some are unable to leave work or children for several weeks at a time. After all, in some areas, the cost of childcare can be nearly a third of a family’s income. However, for cases of severe addiction or for clients with a history of relapse, it’s considered to be the most effective option, with a substantial number of benefits over other options.
Complete Focus on Recovery
One of the main benefits of inpatient rehab is getting addicted individuals away from the stresses involved at work and home, and allowing them to focus on nothing other than their own recovery. There are many potential causes of addiction, but stress and general life dissatisfaction often play a role. People may abuse substances to escape from these problems, so it doesn’t make sense to make them try to stay clean in the same difficult environment.
Inpatient rehab is meant to be a safe, nonjudgmental space in which the only responsibility is to one’s own health. This can also help clients in therapy as they look over their lives, both past and present, to try and discover underlying causes of their addiction disorders. Plus, self-care is an important aspect of avoiding relapse once the rehab program is complete. Learning how to physically and emotionally care for oneself can help a person keep away the stress and unhappiness that might compel them to use.
At the same time, taking all that time to focus on getting well helps people to fully understand that they have an illness that needs serious attention. It can be difficult for people to fully admit to themselves that their addiction is real, but being placed in an inpatient rehab program full of self-examination usually helps that to sink in.
Residential rehab is definitely the safest form of rehab. Clients are surrounded by medical professionals who can quickly respond to any health problem that might emerge. Addicted individuals are vulnerable to health issues soon after stopping intake of the substance, particularly during the withdrawal period. Anybody addicted to an intoxicant will likely experience unpleasant and potentially dangerous symptoms shortly after quitting as their bodies readjust to functioning without the drug. Some of the more dangerous symptoms can include:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Dehydration from diarrhea & vomiting
- Panic attacks
Even after the initial withdrawal symptoms have passed, the stress on the body and mind can aggravate other physical and mental illnesses. With close access to doctors, clients can feel safe as they adjust to being sober again.
One of the main concerns of outpatient rehab programs in which addicted persons are allowed to stay at home is the potential for access to the drug and relapse. Relapse during a rehab program is especially dangerous due to the fact that even being off a drug for a day or two after regular, long-term use can significantly reduce a person’s tolerance to the substance. Unaware of this, individuals may go back to the same high dose of the drug they were taking before treatment began. Without that same tolerance, they can trigger a potentially deadly overdose. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 47,055 overdose deaths in the US in 2014 alone. Relapse overdose in considered to be a common cause.
Treatment and Education
Treatment centers may or may not use 12-Step programs, but support groups and therapy are typically standard in inpatient rehab. Other workshops and programs can include:
- Workshops to learn to recognize and avoid triggers
- Help to stop enabling behavior
- Job/interview skills training
- Healthy hobbies and activities
- Alternative treatments like massage and meditation
- Stress-reduction training
- Cooking and nutritional education
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Mindfulness therapy
- Exercise programs
Though outpatient programs offer treatment options, when you’re spending all your time in a treatment facility where the total focus is on recovery, you have more time to access a variety of programs and workshops that could benefit you. At the same time, inpatient programs tend to be highly structured and require all clients to fill their schedules in order to keep them busy and distracted from cravings.
Education about addiction in general is also typically a required element. Understanding the nature of one’s addiction helps people to take back control of their lives and to understand that addiction is not their fault. It also reduces the risk of relapse by helping people understand the thought patterns and behaviors likely to lead to drug use, so they can avoid these pitfalls in the future.
Finally, inpatient rehab programs tend to lead to better aftercare. This refers to all the self-directed care that the addicted individual will do after they leave rehab. It can consist of continuing therapy around addiction, going to regular support group meetings, and the application of all the skills learned during the rehabilitation program. Inpatient programs are likely to prepare clients for this transition, helping them commit to a schedule with support groups and stressing the importance of aftercare.
Due to the fact that clients live and work together in these facilities, strong bonds tend to form between people on the basis of their share experiences around addiction. These bonds and friendships can evolve into healthy support networks of people who keep each other honest and encourage one another to continue with aftercare even long after rehab is over. This kind of support can be the difference between a quick relapse and a long life free of the bonds of addiction.