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Benefits of A Long-Term Addiction Treatment Program

Dr. Richard Foster, LICDC-CS

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Richard Foster, LICDC-CS

March 1, 2019

While 28-day, intensive programs have grown in popularity due to their convenience, long-term addiction treatment programs have many benefits over the shorter duration rehabilitation stays. A drug rehab program lasting longer than 90 days is considered long-term and studies indicate those who remain in treatment for longer than this three month period show higher overall recovery success rates.

Both the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a minimum of 90 days for the treatment of addiction to drugs and alcohol, as this period of time more accurately reflects the time required to overcome substance addiction. Long-term addiction treatment affords a more comprehensive approach to care for someone seeking a better life in recovery.

Why Long-Term Addiction Treatment?

Long-term addiction recovery programs mean time for a person to move through detox and beyond while helping them build solid coping skills. Normally, in the shorter-term treatment stays, this process is rushed. Long-term care offers a more comprehensive approach to dealing with issues of stress and drug cravings that often lead to relapse. Through cognitive-behavioral therapy, as an individual is learning to identify underlying issues that may have contributed to the addiction, they can work on managing feelings and rebuild a life that reduces dysfunction. This means greater time spent developing those coping strategies and an increased chance of recovery success.

Most significantly, long-term addiction treatment addresses the reality that when someone has developed a dependence on drugs or alcohol, their basic brain chemistry has been altered. The process of stabilizing the neural network following addiction can take months. Long-term treatment provides that extended time for the brain and body to normalize, so that when a person is ready to leave treatment, they are less likely to fall victim to drug cravings or co-occurring mood disorders related to these brain changes.

In addition to changes in the brain, drugs and alcohol have an enormous physical toll on the body. Long-term treatment options allow someone time to adjust to better eating and exercise or stress-relief habits. These can have a lasting impact on the overall health and well-being of an individual long after they leave treatment.

Long-term addiction treatment programs also offer an opportunity, especially for women with children, to work through the complex dynamics created within a family when someone is using. To ignore this dysfunction may mean returning a person in recovery to a state of old thinking and old behaviors. Working in family therapy sessions, the former user and their family has an opportunity to address the underlying family dysfunction relating to the addiction.

Life skills learned in treatment benefit those beginning a new path in life, either in school or work, while still in the program. This allows for a smooth transition out of treatment and into a more independent lifestyle. New relationships forged with others successfully working toward recovery can create a lasting bond of friendship and support.

Long-term addiction recovery programs focus on each of these elements for a more comprehensive approach to drug and alcohol addiction treatment.

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The Long Term Addiction Recovery Program Focus

  • Development of solid coping strategies
  • Time allocated for working on underlying issues related to the addiction
  • Balancing brain chemistry to reduce drug cravings
  • Getting healthy
  • Restoring relationships with family and friends
  • Returning people to work, functional status within society
  • Develops lasting relationships with others in recovery

Who Benefits From Long-Term Addiction Treatment?

Anyone can see benefits from a longer program as they help an individual maintain focus on their recovery efforts. That said, the majority of people who require long-term care are typically recovering from opioid, stimulant, and alcohol addiction or addictions to combinations of these and other substances.

Addictions are complex and long-term care recognizes the intricacy of the process required to help a person go from using to recovery. Additionally, those who require a medically managed approach to their recovery can benefit from on-site medical and staff support.

Long-term options are also hugely beneficial when close family is involved, especially children. These recovery options afford the time necessary to work on complex issues that have likely generated some level of relationship dysfunction.

Recovery Takes Time

The length of time required to get off of a drug isn’t the only consideration when considering the optimal duration of stay at a treatment facility. A comprehensive treatment plan addresses all of the above concerns relating to the implications and consequences of drug abuse. Restoration of the individual, family and friend connections, health, career, and finances are all part of the big picture when thinking about a full and successful recovery.

A good long-term or residential treatment facility will offer group and family counseling, life coaching, the development of multiple coping strategies to deal with stress and drug-cravings, and classes in nutrition and exercise, as well as providing the person in recovery with access to medical care by certified professionals as needed.

Getting Help Today

If you or your loved one is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, can connect you with a recovery pathway forward that includes online resources, professional support, and treatment options to meet your individual needs. Don’t wait until the problem gets worse; contact and move toward a healthy, drug-free future.



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