How Long Does Treatment Last?

Growing Plant in the hands of a girl

Tuesday, April 16, 2019 | By Cooper Samp

So you have made the choice to get off of drugs or alcohol, but you’re not exactly sure the next steps or how the process of treatment works. Even for those who have been to treatment before they may be wondering if the second pursuit requires a different set amount of time.

Treatment isn’t like a typical doctor’s visit where you see your doctor, he or she examines you, forms a diagnosis, and you go home to follow the instructions he or she gave you. No, addiction is a complex brain disease that takes weeks, months, or even years to fully treat. Often times we are dealing with much more than an addiction but an underlying and unaddressed mental health issues as well. Peeling back the layers of addiction takes time both for the individual as well as the psychologist. People may find group therapy to be helpful, but often times it can fail as the sustainability is left up to the dedication and compliance of the individual. During troubling times it can be easier for some individuals to fall back on a substance rather than making the active choice of group therapy. Treatment centers lower the compliance complications associated with outpatient care and group therapy making it the highest recommended treatment form for addiction.

The most effective approach to the treatment for addiction typically requires a medical detoxification and intensive rehabilitation like residential inpatient or a Partial Hospitalization Program  (PHP). A step-down approach is often believed to be the most effective. During this, a person will start with PHP or inpatient care and step-down to a less intensive treatment program like Intensive Outpatient Care (IOP). Here they may attend treatment for 3 days a week for only 2-3 hours. From IOP, individuals will eventually transition into outpatient care. The entire step-down approach can last anywhere from 30 to 90 days.

What Length of Time is Right for Me?

The answer in short is: it varies on each individual. For those who have had a severe addiction for years may require at least 3-months while others who have been to treatment before and have only relapses may only require a few sessions. The standard inpatient rehabilitation lasts just about 30 days, but treatment for addiction is often recommended to continue afterwards in the form of IOP or outpatient care. Addiction is a chronic disease like diabetes and should be continually maintained to keep sobriety intact.

Benefits of a Full Continuum of Care.

There are many varieties and intensities when it comes to addiction treatment. Detox is the type of care that begins treatment and is solely responsible for ridding a person’s body of all unwanted substances to begin treatment with a healthy start. Inpatient care is usually the level of care with the highest intensity of treatment – meaning individuals attend treatment 5 days a week, 7 hours a day, and reside at the treatment center throughout the program. PHP is very similar to inpatient treatment but does not require a person to stay at the facility for treatment. Intensive outpatient is similar to outpatient care, but usually at a higher frequency like 2-3 days a week. A facility with a full continuum of care will be able to provide everything from detox services all the way to outpatient care. A facility with a full continuum of care established one environment for each level; meaning one psychiatrist, and a consistent group of counselors and psychologists throughout the treatment process. This limits the potential for complications and relapse.

Think of it this way; three months is 90 days – that is all that is required to get back the life you’ve been yearning for. Three months to get back your health, sobriety, purpose, and the social connection you deserve. Once sober you’ll notice a newfound appreciation for the many things we take for granted everyday: health, happiness, love, family, friends, and a job. Each day you wake up you will acknowledge these things with a new delighted attitude because you can enjoy these things healthy and clean. Three months may seem like a long time, but when you have your happiness back it’s a small investment for an ineffable reward.

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