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Locate The Best Inpatient Drug Rehab Center

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

February 18, 2019

Finding an inpatient drug and alcohol treatment center that fits your individual needs may be the best first step you can take in your journey to long-term recovery. Understanding the different types of treatment modalities offered at inpatient treatment centers will help you choose which facility is right for you.

Inpatient Drug And Alcohol Rehab

Substance abuse has affected millions of people worldwide for some time. The opioid epidemic has continued to grow within the last few decades, alcoholism remains heavily prevalent and abuse of other illicit drugs still runs rampant in the U.S.

Fortunately for those struggling with a substance use disorder or addiction, there are more treatments available now than ever before to help people overcome substance use issues and manage addiction long-term. The most effective of these treatments have proven to be inpatient drug and alcohol rehab.

What Is Inpatient Drug And Alcohol Rehab?

Inpatient drug and alcohol rehab, also called residential rehab, is a form of addiction treatment in which a person stays within a treatment facility for a specified amount of time. During that time, the person receives care and support to overcome addiction issues.

The most effective inpatient drug and alcohol rehab programs afford individuals access to some key program components: licensed and experienced staff and treatment specialists, evidence-based therapies and treatments and a private environment in which to heal. A person within an inpatient rehab program will remain in the rehab center for the duration of the program, receiving a number of treatments depending on his or her needs and the availability of treatments within the facility.

Treatments utilized within inpatient drug and alcohol rehab programs will vary by facility, as will length of treatment, accreditation and licensing of the facility, amenities offered, staff-per-client ratio, counselor-to-client ratio and variety of evidence-based therapies.

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Inpatient drug and alcohol rehab centers are staffed by some of the best treatment specialists in addiction treatment, including primary care physicians, psychiatrists, counselors, therapists and more. Most inpatient programs include some form of counseling, behavioral therapy, support groups and a detox program if needed.

Inpatient rehab centers are often situated in remote locations, with access to outdoor recreation and therapies, and even luxury amenities and holistic treatments. Each facility has its own take on addiction treatment, with the most reputable rehab centers offering customized programs which meet the needs of any individual who enters treatment.

Essentially, inpatient addiction treatment programs work to provide addicted individuals with everything they need for recovery: life skills, behavioral changes, restructuring of thought processes, medication, detoxification, counseling, a supportive environment and more.

Length Of Inpatient Drug And Alcohol Rehab Programs

While many first-time addicted individuals will enter a short-term program of 30 days or less, research shows that people who get into and remain in treatment for up to 90 days see the best recovery results. However, length of inpatient programs is typically decided by a team of clinicians prior to the start of treatment and is based on a person’s individuals needs. Ongoing clinical assessments during treatment help determine the extent of treatment as well.

Short-term treatment programs may offer a high level of intensity due to a shorter time frame for healing, but long-term inpatient programs allow a person to heal all aspects of health which have been touched by addiction and to do so at his or her own pace. A long-term program may be anywhere from 60 days, to 90 or 120 days in length to one year or more if needed.

There is no specific timeline for recovery that individuals must follow. Instead, the best rehab centers design treatment program lengths according to a person’s needs, based on a number of factors. Some of these factors may include drug of abuse, duration and frequency of abuse and any co-occurring substance use or mental health disorders.

Treatment Components Of Inpatient Drug And Alcohol Rehab

Inpatient drug and alcohol rehab programs may offer a vastly wide range of treatment components, depending on the facility. Individualized programs are designed around each person’s needs and the components offered within the facility.

The following are key inpatient addiction treatment components which lend to lasting recovery results:

Inpatient Detox Programs

Not everyone who enters addiction treatment will need detoxification, or to flush out harmful toxins acquired from substance abuse, but many will. For those who do need detox, many drug and alcohol rehab centers offer inpatient detox programs.

These programs are typically immediately followed by inpatient addiction treatment, and the two are not to be confused. Detox allows a person to heal the from the physical effects of addiction, undergoing withdrawal (if they are dependent on a substance), receiving medication if necessary and healing from other harmful, physical effects, such as malnutrition or vitamin deficiencies. Inpatient treatment works to help a person heal from the psychological and emotional effects of addiction.

Certain substances of abuse lead to potentially fatal withdrawal symptoms, such as drastically increased or decreased heart and breathing rates, seizures, hallucinations, psychosis and increased body temperature. Inpatient detox programs, or medically supervised detox programs, monitor a person throughout their detox process to ensure they stay healthy and safe.

Once a person has recovered from the worst of withdrawal symptoms, which will vary in duration according to the person and the drug of abuse, he or she is ready for formal treatment.

Therapy And Counseling

Each inpatient program may offer therapy and counseling that is slightly different in its approach from the next rehab center, but most of these programs do offer these two components in some form as both are key to a long-lasting recovery.

Counseling is one of the tried-and-true methods which aids addicted individuals on the path to recovery. A rehab center will provide each addicted individual with a counselor who oversees their treatment program, monitors ongoing progress and helps keep the individual on track. The counselor promotes growth and changes to lifestyle, behaviors and thought processes throughout counseling sessions.

There are multiple forms of therapy, as addiction treatment is constantly growing and adding new, more effective evidence-based methods. One of the most proven methods for treating addiction is behavioral therapy, which includes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).

CBT works to help individuals change their thoughts and avoid destructive behavior which can lead to bad choices (such as substance abuse). DBT is a form of CBT which helps individuals focus on the root of the problem by making them more mindful and aware of their emotions through the power of dialectics.

These are but two of a number of therapies which may be utilized within in an inpatient program. Other therapies which may be effective include:

  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Adventure or Wilderness Therapy
  • Art Therapy
  • Family Therapy
  • Medication Management Therapy
  • Trauma Therapy

Drug and alcohol rehab centers often combine multiple therapies within an inpatient program for a comprehensive treatment approach, called multidisciplinary addiction treatment.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) combines therapy, counseling and medication management. Some people need medication for more than just withdrawal symptoms. For instance, people who are physically dependent on highly addictive drugs, like opioids, may need medication to help wean off use of them. These medications either block the effects of opioids or replace the effects of opioids without the rush of euphoria and mind-altering effects.

Some medications for opioid medication-assisted treatment programs include buprenorphine (Suboxone) or methadone. Medications for alcohol medication-assisted treatment programs can include naltrexone (Vivitrol).

In MAT programs, medication is not meant to be a sole treatment, but one part of a larger program. The most effective treatment results will be afforded by integrating medication as well as in-depth counseling and a variety of therapies.

Art And Recreation

While therapy, counseling and other traditional treatments are important within inpatient treatment programs, extracurricular components and alternative therapies cannot be undervalued. Some of these include art and recreation.

Art, or art therapy, is a newfound alternative therapy within inpatient addiction treatment programs. It allows individuals to express themselves, which in turn helps them heal and work through some of the conflicting emotions, triggers and thoughts experienced as a result of or influenced by addiction.

Art also allows an addicted individual to use creativity and expression in a healthy, constructive way, giving him or her an appropriate outlet to replace substance use. Forms of art which may be utilized in art therapy include painting, dancing, sculpting, drawing, poetry and music.

Recreation is key to recovery simply because the entirety of the treatment program cannot focus solely on treatment; individuals will have down time between treatment sessions, and during these times it’s important that they have constructive ways to spend their time. Inpatient drug and alcohol rehab centers provide excellent recreation opportunities, both relaxing options and productive ones, which teach individuals how to spend their time in ways that contribute to a healthy, sober lifestyle.

Some examples of recreation include pools, gymnasiums, libraries, obstacle and ropes courses, tennis courts, hiking or adventure therapy, pottery classes and many more.

Inpatient Treatment For Co-Occurring Disorders

Many individuals who are struggling with addiction also face a co-occurring mental health disorder, also known as a dual diagnosis. For these individuals, addiction treatment can become more challenging as they must work to address both disorders. When both disorders aren’t properly addressed, a person may not fully recover from addiction.

Symptoms of one disorder often aggravate the other. A person abusing substances may develop anxiety or depression, and the symptoms of these illnesses may drive them to use substances. Or, a person who struggles with clinical depression or high anxiety may turn to substance misuse as a way to cope or self-medicate. For these reasons, it’s important that addiction be treated alongside the mental health disorder so a person has the best opportunity to fully heal from both.

People in dual diagnosis treatment programs may require unique or highly specialized care. For example, a person with a mental illness may have an underlying cause which requires proper treatment, such as past trauma. In order for a person to be stable enough to work through issues which trigger substance use, he or she may need highly focused counseling, therapies and even medication to regulate symptoms.

All of these forms of treatment are available within inpatient co-occurring disorder programs. Full clinical assessments provided prior to the start of treatment should work to identify any and all disorders, alleviate the symptoms, teach individuals coping skills and management techniques and implement a relapse prevention plan.

Benefits Of Inpatient Rehab Programs

The benefits of inpatient rehab programs can be numerous. First, an individual is removed from their home environment, which may be surrounded by triggers for substance use, or friends and family who support drug use or offer easy access to substances.

Then, a person attends a treatment program which provides a whole new environment, free from substances and supportive of recovery. Many rehab facilities are surrounded by nature and situated on beautiful landscapes, offering a level of peace and serenity conducive to healing.

Inpatient programs are often facilitated by the best treatment professionals in the field of addiction treatment and include the most cutting-edge treatments available. All of these components give individuals the greatest opportunity for recovery success.

Other benefits of inpatient treatment programs include:

  • learning the coping skills necessary to avoid relapse.
  • acquiring the life skills to implement lifestyle changes for sober living.
  • learning techniques for managing stress, hardships, trauma and grief, which can lead to substance use.
  • learning mindfulness techniques to manage everyday living and help with mental health disorders.
  • being surrounded by others in recovery for support.
  • designing an aftercare plan to foster long-term recovery and avoid or manage relapse.

People within inpatient programs will enjoy 24-hour access to nursing and emergency services if needed, monitoring of health and safety needs and administration of medication to prevent relapse, and one-on-one support from staff and treatment specialists.

A person who attends inpatient treatment will take from the program as much as he or she puts in, as treatment requires high levels of dedication and motivation. The best rehab programs will help those in recovery maintain these levels throughout treatment.

Inpatient Vs. Outpatient Addiction Treatment

One of the first decisions a person must make when seeking help for an addiction is whether to seek inpatient or outpatient care. While a lot of factors can affect this decision, ultimately it’s one that should be made according to a person’s needs for care. If a person seeking addiction treatment struggles with prolonged substance use of a few months to multiple years, he or she will likely need inpatient care.

This is because addiction is a chronic disease which often results in relapse. People with addictions are mentally dependent on a substance, and some become physically dependent on the substance as well. Plus, research shows that people who remain in treatment for at least 90 days see better long-term results in recovery. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports, “good outcomes are contingent on adequate treatment length.”

There are multiple types of inpatient and outpatient treatment programs, and individuals seeking treatment should explore all options to see which one is right for them before entering a program. Inpatient addiction treatment programs include medically supervised detox programs and inpatient or residential rehab programs. All of these programs are completed within a facility, with constant help and support from treatment professionals, and all typically last for at least two weeks but up to a year or more.

Outpatient programs can vary quite a bit in structure, length and how they are facilitated. Partial hospitalization programs (PHP) and intensive outpatient programs (IOP) are similar in intensity to inpatient programs, with the main difference lying in the patient’s return home each day after treatment. These programs can be anywhere from two to six or eight hours per day, two to four days per week, and usually involve counseling, group and/or individual therapy and education. Medication-assisted treatment is also utilized within these programs when needed.

Some people may attend PHPs or IOPs in lieu of inpatient treatment. Other forms of outpatient treatment include 12-step support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, and local, community counseling or therapy. These forms of outpatient addiction treatment are best when used as a form of continued care for someone who has already completed an inpatient program.

Addiction is a disease which will affect a person long-term, meaning it requires continued management, so many rehab centers include the development of a relapse prevention or aftercare plan within their inpatient programs. Whichever form of care a person chooses to enter, inpatient or outpatient, it should fully address their addiction and related issues and equip them to manage the disease in their recovery.

National Institute on Drug Abuse - How long does drug addiction treatment usually last?

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