Once a client has finished their medical detox and has achieved sobriety and stability, the next stage is to start ongoing care in an addiction recovery program where they treat the physical and psychological aspects of their addiction.

Ongoing treatment is absolutely necessary for someone to gain the knowledge and skills they need to make a positive, lasting change in their lives and successfully maintain sobriety.

Just as each person’s experience with addiction is unique, the recovery process will not look the same for everyone. The length of time in treatment, as well as the level of care needed,  depends on the needs of the individual, the severity of their addiction, the substance of abuse, their mental and physical health, and various other factors.

If someone is in the early stages of dependency and otherwise in good health, then outpatient treatment and therapy sessions structured around their normal routine may be enough for them to fully recover from drug or alcohol use.

However, for many people in addiction recovery, this is not enough. Whether they have a more severe addiction, have tried other forms of treatment unsuccessfully, have a co-occurring disorder, a history of relapse or an unstable home environment, outpatient treatment cannot provide them with an adequate level of support.

For these reasons and many more, inpatient or residential treatment can prove to be a more useful mode of recovery. Residential treatment gives someone the time and space they need to focus on their recovery without the stresses and responsibilities of their daily life. It provides them with access to medical care and monitoring while also providing comfortable amenities and a supportive community of peers.

What is Residential Treatment?

Residential treatment, or long-term residential treatment, as it is also referred to, is a form of inpatient addiction treatment. Because both involve living onsite at a treatment facility 24 hours a day, they are frequently used interchangeably. However, this is not exactly accurate.

While inpatient care is defined as living onsite at the facility where someone will be receiving their addiction treatment, this could be at a hospital or even treatment center that is not meant for long-term stays and therefore does not have resident-style amenities.

Inpatient treatment as a broad category is also typically more focused on the physical aspects of addiction treatment, such as stabilization. This is because if someone is in inpatient care, it is often because they require a highly intensive level of medical care that outpatient treatment cannot provide.

Residential substance abuse treatment programs are different in that they usually offer a more comprehensive scope of therapies and treatments, addressing not only the physical symptoms of addiction but also the underlying psychological aspects of someone’s addictive behaviors.

Residential treatment is also good for people who have severe addictions that may be complicated by co-occurring disorders, and may also not have a stable home environment that is conducive to recovery but still do not require the same level of intensive care as some forms of inpatient treatment.

Instead, residential treatment offers a more relaxed, comfortable environment with individualized amenities and living spaces similar to dormitories or apartments. Those in residential treatment will still have 24/7 access to medical support and receive therapy, counseling, and addiction education. They also will take part in different communal activities as well as chores and other responsibilities.

What are the Benefits of Residential Treatment?

There are many benefits to choosing residential treatment. The more intensive and comprehensive level of care makes it one of the most effective forms of treatment available, especially for those with a history of addiction and relapse who have struggled to maintain long-term sobriety.

Among the most significant benefits of residential treatment is 24/7 access to addiction specialists, therapists, and medical support, as well as the safety and security provided by the controlled environment of a treatment center. This way, you can fully focus on your recovery without worrying about relapse or any potential distractions, triggers or temptations.

Another major benefit of residential treatment is that it typically offers a wider range of treatment therapies and services, such as dual diagnosis treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders that often appear alongside addiction, including:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia

For those with co-occurring mental health issues, addiction treatment is only effective if the substance use disorder and the accompanying disorder are both treated at the same time. This and other specialized and highly individualized forms of therapy are not as commonly available outside of a residential treatment setting.

Other benefits of residential treatment include the opportunity to create a lasting network of support through the strong relationships built by living in a community of people all going through similar recovery experiences, as well as post-treatment transitional services that can help make sure your return to everyday life is as smooth as possible.

How Long Does Residential Treatment Last?

Addiction recovery is different for everyone, which is why the actual time spent in a residential treatment program will vary from person to person.

Research by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) indicates that 90 days is the minimum baseline for successful addiction treatment, but also that most effective treatments are usually longer.

Stethoscope and a calculator on top of insurance papersSome substances, such as opioids, for example, may require someone to remain in treatment for 12 months or even longer.

Getting an adequate amount of treatment time for you to properly address and heal from the physical and psychological aspects of your addiction, as well as learn the skills to manage them, is essential to maintaining long-term sobriety.

The alternative is rushing out of treatment before you’re ready, which means relapse is all but guaranteed, which could mean you’ll have to return to treatment anyway.

Better to take the time you need and give yourself the best chance of avoiding relapse.

Is Residential Treatment Right for Me?

There are many good reasons to choose residential treatment when it comes to addiction recovery, but it is not a decision to be made lightly. Long-term residential treatment requires significant time and financial commitment, depending on your insurance policy. But for those who need time away from their daily routine in a controlled environment that is free of triggers, residential treatment will most likely best fit their needs.

Residential treatment may be the best treatment option for addiction recovery if you or your loved one:

  • Have a severe addiction to alcohol or drugs
  • Have a polysubstance use disorder
  • Have a history of addiction and relapse
  • Have tried other forms of addiction treatment but were unsuccessful
  • Have a mental health disorder or other co-occurring disorder
  • Have PTSD or have otherwise experienced intense trauma
  • Require more monitoring/support than outpatient treatment offers
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