Most people know drug rehab as a short 30-day stay in a treatment center, followed by either no program or light support in the form of a 12-step group or similar self-help group. Long-term rehab subverts this standard model of 30-day treatment to make room for patients who need longer-term care. Rather than creating a standard treatment model, long-term rehab centers adjust the length of treatment to the patient, extending care as long as needed to ensure the optimal mental and physical health of the client.
While many people chose 30-day treatment for convenience, there are numerous benefits to long-term drug rehab. If you’re considering whether to attend a traditional short-term drug rehab facility or a long-term residential drug rehab facility, it’s important for you to know why you would choose the longer option.
What is Long-Term Drug Rehab?
Long-Term Drug Rehab almost always consists of some inpatient treatment, although portions it may be a longer-term outpatient program as well. Initially, patients are individually assessed and given personalized treatment, with therapy, medication as appropriate, and support that specifically caters to the patient’s needs. Unlike with short-term care, long-term drug rehab simply continues care until the patient is well enough to move on, when they are stable and able to integrate back into their everyday life. Long-term rehab approaches treatment from the idea that everyone is different and will therefore learn to cope and will recover at their own pace. With the option to stretch treatment out for as many months as necessary, persons who cannot recover as quickly still get the help and support they need to go back to their lives with the tools they need to rebuild.
Long-term inpatient drug treatment is beneficial to anyone who has relapsed after recovering before, those with difficult homes or stressful jobs, those with drug use still at home, persons with highly stressful professional lives, anyone with a dual diagnosis disorder, and anyone who began drug use at a very young age.
Long-term residential drug-rehab centers may offer 12-step, therapeutic, evidence-based, or any other effective form of treatment depending on the center.
How Long is Long-Term Drug Rehab?
Long-term drug rehab is typically a minimum of 30 days. However, it may extend to months or even a year. With no express time-limit on how long someone should take to recover, individuals can do so at their own pace.
This extended duration of treatment is in part, a response to the fact that most inpatient rehab is considered to be much too short. Traditionally patients attend 30 days and then must follow up with years of 12-step or therapy to complete their recovery. The National Institute on Drug Abuse recommends treatment of at least 12 weeks (90 days), where many inpatient programs are 28-30 days. These programs can still be effective, but longer-term treatment is considered more effective.
Therapeutic Communities – Therapeutic Communities are a specific form of long-term drug rehab, where individuals move into a community for an intended duration of 6 months to a year. This very long recovery phase means that individuals are supported by a community, kept away from drugs for a considerable period of time, and are able to participate in group therapy.
While taking time off work or away from family for a longer time, or even for an unspecified amount of time, can be difficult, long-term drug rehab offers a lot of benefits.
Benefits of Long-Term Drug Rehab
Long-term drug rehab operates in a similar way to shorter time programs, but typically introduces elements of long-term self-care, complete mental and social recovery, and physical health programs.
Support – Long-term drug rehab keeps individuals away from drugs and alcohol for a significantly longer period, giving them more time to distance themselves from drug use. With programs to introduce skills for coping with cravings, time to reduce cravings, and more time for the brain to recover and return to normal, individuals with longer-term care are more able to resist cravings than those who are given 30 days of treatment and sent back to their old environment.
Structure – Where a traditional 30-day short-term rehab program offers 1-2 weeks of detox and then 1-2 weeks of therapy and care, a long-term drug rehab program can offer much more. After detox, patients still have the option to attend weeks or even months of therapy, training, and counseling. With potentially months of support to build structure, including waking up, exercising, eating, and filling time with hobbies, individuals have much more opportunity to build a healthy foundation for their lives.
Focus on Mental Health – Long-term treatment programs offer a great deal of support for mental and social health, with support for social interaction, anxiety, coping with stress, and managing emotions.
Focus on Physical Health – Most long-term drug rehab centers offer a great deal of support for physical health, especially where it intersects with mental health. Patients can expect nutritional therapy, exercise, and information on how both affect mood and overall health. Because the goal of long-term therapy is to give individuals the tools they need to manage their happiness and quality of life without substances, this information is extremely helpful in long-term recovery.
Recovery at Your Own Pace – Long-term treatment gives you the option to continue receiving care as long as you need it. If a patient is not showing signs of recovery after 30, 60, or even 90 days, they simply remain in the program until they are able to cope with stress, exposure to drugs, or other events without a likely relapse. The goal is to ensure that anyone who leaves the program has returned to full mental, social, and physical health, and you simply stay until that goal is reached.
Aftercare – One of the tenants of long-term drug rehab is that care should be provided as long as needed. Most treatment facilities will offer at least some type of drug addiction aftercare program to ensure that goal has been reached.
Long-term inpatient drug rehab centers typically offer a great deal in terms of life skills, therapy options, and training. Many will also offer support for family and even for parents with young children who need to remain in their care. If you require this type of support, it’s important to check that your facility offers it.
Long-term drug rehab isn’t the right solution for everyone, but it does offer a lot of benefits. Individuals who are heavily addicted, those suffering from co-occurring disorders which could complicate recovery, those with a genetic vulnerability to addiction, and those with a history of relapse can greatly benefit from long-term care. If these factors don’t apply to you, you may also benefit, simply because long-term care offers additional support in helping you to return to full health.