Addiction is a complex disorder that can affect the recovering individual physically, mentally, psychologically and spiritually. While there are some within the recovery community—especially maybe those within the twelve-step community—that may feel treatment facilities shift the focus away from working a day-to-day step program, there are some things inherent in a treatment facility that can help the recovering addict maintain long-term sobriety. While working a twelve-step program may have the highest success rates for recovering alcoholics and addicts, treatment facilities and other longer-term options such as the therapeutic communities (i.e. halfway houses) can provide additional benefits that can complement a twelve-step program.
Long-Term Treatment Facilities
Unlike shorter-term treatment facilities in which the average length of stay can run between four to six weeks, a longer-term treatment facility requires a longer stay in a controlled setting for a period of 90 days or greater. These types of facilities offer a multi-faceted approach to treatment and allow the patient more time to deal with the underlying issues that may be impacting their recovery. The underlying philosophy guiding treatment and counseling within the treatment center is the identification of any co-existing psychological disorders as well as providing relapse prevention and recovery techniques. Also, those who are in treatment facilities learn the life skills needed to function in their day to day living.
Treatment for Mental Illnesses
Treatment facilities are designed in order to help those who may not have had success with other treatment options. Many people who struggle with drug and alcohol addiction may suffer from a mental illness such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder that was either not seen or diagnosed previously. Many treatment centers offer medication-based interventions as well as therapy and counseling-centered interventions in order to stabilize the recovering individual when they re-enter society.
Therapeutic Communities – Halfway Houses and Sober Living Facilities
In the last two decades, there has been an increase in the number of therapeutic communities in the United States. These therapeutic communities include halfway houses and other sober living facilities and programs that provide a safe and healthy living environment to initiate and sustain recovery. These residential settings allow for peer interaction and influence which will hopefully help individuals in recovery learn and assimilate the social norms present within the household and ultimately learn to develop effective social skills. Therapeutic communities feature treatment staff and those who are in active recovery.
Treatment in a Therapeutic Community
Treatment in a therapeutic community can be thought of in comprising three stages. The first stage is the introduction to the community and early treatment. The resident learns the rules and expectations and a personal assessment of self, circumstances and needs takes place. This occurs within the first thirty days. From this initial period, the primary treatment phase begins and there is a structured model of progression in place. With that progression, there are increasing responsibilities placed on the individual with expectations of better attitudes and perceptions. From there a re-entry strategy and plan can be developed for the person’s re-entry back into society.
For the person who is part of the therapeutic community, they are expected to follow and adhere to the behaviors and structural norms that comprise the community itself. The norms are reinforced with rewards and punishments with the purpose of developing self-control and responsibility. As the person progresses through the therapeutic community, they are given increasingly important roles and responsibilities. People in these residential programs are expected to become active role models in the process, guiding new entrants by example.
Tips for Choosing Long-Term Treatment Facilities
Whether choosing a therapeutic community or a more traditional long-term treatment facility, there are some considerations that need to be kept in mind. Firstly, the staff members of these facilities should be trained and certified to treat chemical dependency and the issues related to chemical dependency. Secondly, the facility should offer life skills education as well as programming concerning coping mechanisms, nutrition and another educational programming that will aid the recovering person in maintaining their sobriety outside treatment.
Other factors that need to be taken into consideration is the fact that a “one size fits all” philosophy is not the most effective. Long-term treatment facilities should have the flexibility to modify and craft treatment plans that cater to each individual and attend to the many needs of that individual. In addition to treating any co-occurring psychological disorders, these treatment facilities should also have the capability to provide assessments for possible diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.
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