Going to rehab for addiction treatment can bring many “what if’s” to mind, even for those who know that spending time at a facility is the best thing for them. There are myths and misconceptions about how rehab works, especially programs that require people to stay on-site for treatment. 

One such myth is, “if you’ve tried one treatment center, you’ve tried them all.” While that may be true at some treatment facilities, it’s not the reality for many others. Not all centers use a one-size-fits-all approach to drug and alcohol addiction treatment. If you have found a facility that approaches rehab in this way, you may want to seriously reconsider your decision to receive treatment there.

Your Rehab Experience Should Be Uniquely Yours

Each person who enters treatment will require different things to get the most out of their experience. So, for this reason, and many others, your addiction treatment plan at a residential treatment center should be unique, and you can ensure that it is unique and suits you. This program should be tailored to your needs and preferences and take factors in your situation into account.

What Does ‘Unique’ Mean When It Comes to a Residential Program?

Addiction does not look the same for everyone, so neither will everyone’s recovery from it. While you may know that “unique” means your program should fit you in every way, it helps to be clear on what this really means. When considering whether a program is unique, it should take your personality, severity of your addiction, and your physical, mental, and emotional needs into account. Your program should also consider your:

  • Substance use history, including how long and how often you have been using substances
  • Your drug or drugs of choice
  • Way of using substances (e.g., whether you use more than one drug together at the same time)
  • History of substance abuse in your family, if applicable.
  • Existing co-occurring disorders (This means you have a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder at the same time.)
  • Previous attempts at treatment for substance use disorder and sobriety
  • And other factors

The more honest you are with a drug addiction counselor about how you arrived at the point where you are, the greater the chance that your treatment program will be personalized the way it needs to be for you. Being forthcoming with information will ensure you are placed in the right setting for you and that you get the care you require while you’re there.

Is Residential Treatment Right for You?

For some people, a few days in a treatment program will not be enough time to get to the root of a serious addiction. And, it is widely accepted in the treatment community that getting medical detox only does not go far enough in giving a person what they need to find their way to sobriety. The rehab journey is long for many people. It usually starts with medical detox, and residential treatment is the next step down from medical detox.

If you are considering residential rehab, it is likely that you have been recommended to receive treatment in this setting after a review of your situation. Residential treatment, also called inpatient treatment at some facilities, is the highest and most intensive placement along the addiction continuum of care. It is designed to give people with moderate-to-severe substance use disorders the time and space they require to recover from them. People in this group can:

  • Be far along in their addiction or past the mild stages of it
  • Require intensive therapy for a substance use disorder
  • Require medical detox for addictive substances (alcohol, drug abuse)
  • Need professional medical help for their behavioral and/or psychiatric challenges.
  • Require a structured, monitored living environment while addressing their addiction
  • Seek various kinds of therapy in different settings (individual, group, or family)
  • Benefit from ongoing progress assessments and treatment adjustments

Residential programs are also for people who have been to treatment more than once. Some people repeat treatment because they did not get the results they wanted during their previous times in rehab. Others have been on the verge of relapse or relapsed, so they return to rehab to continue working on their recovery. No matter where a person falls along the continuum of care, addiction treatment should be tailored to meet their needs to ensure they get what they need out of their program.

How Does Residential Rehab Help People Who Need Treatment?

Residential treatment allows people the environment they need to focus on their sobriety with the right support in place. This environment also offers a break from the outside world so that the person in recovery can keep the focus on themselves without dealing with distractions, particularly those that could derail their recovery. How long a person stays in residential rehab will depend on various factors that pertain only to them. A long-term program requires a 30-day or longer stay. 

A question that’s asked often is how long should someone stay in residential rehab? The answer to that will depend on your circumstances. Thirty days is considered the minimum, but your unique program should last as long as you need it so that you give yourself the time you need to heal. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) writes that the average rehab stay should last at least 90 days

“Research indicates that most addicted individuals need at least three months in treatment to significantly reduce or stop their drug use and that the best outcomes occur with longer durations of treatment,” it writes. 

A residential program tailored for people with addictions that require longer treatment offer:

  • Personalized, round-the-clock care at a live-in facility
  • Comprehensive psychiatric and physical health care and a personalized treatment plan
  • Certified and compassionate medical and addiction health care professionals who understand the complexities of SUDs, rehab treatment, and recovery 

What Happens While You’re in Residential Rehab?

unique residential treatment

When you are staying at a facility for rehab, your entire program should be focused on you and what you need so that you can get the best start possible when it is time to exit from the facility and transition and rejoin the real world again. Your day likely will be structured from early morning to the evening, and you will have a schedule to follow that helps you stay on track with your day.

The results of your assessment will help medical, and addiction care specialists know what your track is. If you have a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder, you need treatment that allows you to address both conditions together at the same time.

 Depending on your needs, you can expect to attend:

Addiction education classes: Part of recovering from addiction is understanding how it works and how it has shaped your personal story. Addiction education classes aim to give clients the “why” behind substance misuse and abuse and how it affects all parts of a person’s life. This includes how chronic substance abuse affects the physical body as well as one’s mental and emotional states. Clients also learn how addiction affects their interpersonal relationships and how they interact with other people. An important part of the course is learning to recognize the warning signs and stages of relapse. Relapse is a common and expected part of recovery. It is important to know how to prevent it from happening and what to do if it does.

Behavior therapy: A critical part of residential rehab is attending various therapy sessions that help people identify the areas that need their attention and their work. This often requires a change in thought and behavior. These therapies enable them to work on healing their whole selves, not just the physical part of substance abuse and addiction. The kind of therapy you receive will depend on what your needs are and what you need to work on. You may be assigned to receive cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is commonly used in rehab programs for people with SUDs. CBT is a psychotherapy that’s designed to help people change any negative, dysfunctional, or self-defeating thoughts that lead to undesired behavior, particularly behavior that prompts substance abuse in this case. CBT raises a person’s awareness of their thoughts and feelings and gives them the tools and strategies they need to replace those habits that move them away from their sobriety goals.

Individual therapy and group therapy: Your residential treatment program may call for you to participate in individual sessions that allow you to face and hold yourself accountable for your addictive behaviors. This will help you to understand why you use substances and what you need to change. In addition to therapies that allow for self-reflection, you may also attend group therapy sessions, which allow you to hear from people who have experiences similar to yours. Being part of a group allows you to connect with others and understand where you are in your recovery process, as well as understand the challenges that others are facing. Group therapy allows you also to share ideas and perspectives that could help someone else in their recovery.

Other Things That May Be Part of Your Residential Program

Depending on your program, you could receive medication monitoring and medication management if your SUD requires that you take prescription medication along with the psychotherapies you’ve been assigned. These medications can help with physical withdrawal symptoms you could have during or after detox, or they may keep cravings for drugs and alcohol away while you focus on your recovery. Having certified medical staff to help you in a residential setting will ensure you are receiving the right dosage at all times. They can also adjust the dosage as needed.

You also may receive life skills training that can help you set financial goals, manage your money, or create a resume as you set out to find employment. Other life skills courses focus on finding transition housing and other necessities for you as you prepare to rejoin the outside world. 

Remember, Your Rehab Experience Is Yours

A residential rehab program that offers you the resources and support you need for your recovery is very important. While there is a great deal of support out there for people in treatment and those who are new to recovery, you still have to do the work and speak up to ensure you get the help you deserve. Your rehab program should be uniquely tailored to your needs and any challenges you may face or have faced. Ask as many questions as you need to and do your research. If you need help with any of these things, reach out. Someone will be there to help.

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