Written by: Cary Quashen
It seems now days one can’t go an entire day without hearing about addiction and recovery. It’s on the internet, in the news, the story line of many television shows and movies, and the focus of reality television programs. But while addiction is openly talked about these days, (for many, many, years it was a taboo subject) aspects of recovery from this horrible disease are constantly debated and many who are addicted believe they can become clean and sober alone.
While addiction treatment debates continue, I have known a few people who manage to get sober on their own. But the vast majority struggle with addiction for years, decades and even their entire lives if they don’t seek treatment. And many lose their lives because they would not or could not seek treatment.
I am frequently asked what treatment programs are the most effective, and then comes the question: “Is it true drug and alcohol treatment programs don’t work?” That kind of question is often a form of an excuse from the active addict who is in denial and is scared to seek treatment or a fearful question from someone who loves an active addict.
Be it for drugs or alcohol, addiction treatment does work.
Residential treatment programs are 30-day minimum programs in which patients enter a safe, secure facility in which intensive drug and alcohol treatment programs are the cornerstone of the patient’s daily activities. Often, patients who have attempted outpatient treatment programs but have ultimately relapsed back into drug and alcohol use, or have found outpatient programs difficult to complete, achieve success in a residential program. Patients who require detoxification services due to concerns about withdrawal also benefit from residential programs, as detox services can be included as a part of residential treatment programs.
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After detox (if necessary), patients undergo an intensive, daily drug or alcohol treatment regimen to learn about the disease of addiction in a supportive, immersive environment. Residential programs are safe, structured environments in which patients are removed from stressful circumstances that promote or fuel the urge to use.
Because negatively influencing factors are removed from a patient’s daily experience, participants in residential treatment programs can begin to work on building life skills that had been interfered with due to addiction. Because of this intensive level of care, residential treatment programs are ideal for people who have unsuccessfully attempted to overcome addiction in outpatient programs, or for people who have identified that they need drug or alcohol treatment and want to “do it right” the first time. The level of care necessary for a patient is determined by an in-person assessment with a qualified medical or counseling professional.
Most often, patients who have attempted outpatient programs without success do require residential care, but some patients who have not yet undergone outpatient treatment may not require this high level of care.
Residential programs are highly emotionally supportive and focus on helping the whole body and mind through treatment. For this reason, most residential centers encourage family participation, including evening family education programs and weekend programs. In addition to immediate family, patients benefit from having a “therapeutic community” in residential treatment programs – a community of patients who support one another through treatment by encouraging others to stay on task. In addition to the other differentiators of long-term residential care, it is this camaraderie gained through empathy and shared experience that often helps patients overcome addiction while completing drug or alcohol treatment.
Residential treatment services are successful when they are supported with followed up services including intensive outpatient services, private one-on-counseling, sober living facilities and the support of NA (Narcotics Anonymous) or AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) groups.
Cary Quahsen is a certified addiction specialist and the president and founder of Action Family Counseling Drug and Alcohol Treatment Programs. He may be reached by calling (661) 297-8691. Cary has been clean and sober for 33 years.
Action Family Counseling Drug and Alcohol Treatment Programs provide residential treatment services to both adolescents and adults. Treatment services provided include diagnostic assessments, an individual and family treatment plan, individual counseling, group therapy, family counseling, multi-family group therapy, recovery planning groups, treatment advocacy, drug testing, discharge planning and outside referral resources and transition to a sober living environment if so desired.
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