When someone thinks of “rehab” or addiction treatment, they typically think of the traditional 28-day inpatient rehab or residential treatment center model. Or, perhaps, they think of a traditional intensive outpatient (IOP) addiction treatment program. There are many reasons and factors as why these two types of treatment or levels of care have become the standard type of treatment for addiction, and why most people think of these types of treatment models as what rehab or addiction treatment is. Someone says “oh, they went away to rehab” for a month, or “they’re going to outpatient treatment groups” for, say, 12 weeks. It is important to recognize both of these levels of care for the treatment of addiction are important, and both have extreme benefits. The issue with how society views rehab or addiction treatment, in either a 28-day rehab model or a shorter term 90 day intensive outpatient (IOP) model, is that the viewpoint from which they are thinking about treatment is episodic. Treatment is viewed as a single event when someone begins and ends a certain type of addiction treatment program. This type of mindset does not see addiction for what it is: a chronic condition that requires long-term care and management to achieve optimal success.

The addiction treatment field has done a disservice to patients and families impacted by addiction. Too often, facilities or professionals are either overly concerned with making sure to gain an admission to their facility, or taking on the emotional crisis experienced by the person in active addiction or that individual’s family members. Regardless, the typical approach is make sure the potential patient admits because they are in a crisis. Often, it is not ill-intended or malicious; rather the idea is if the patient is using drugs, they need treatment as fast as possible to make sure they don’t suffer terrible consequences, like a fatal or non-fatal overdose, car crash, arrest, or a loss of their family or employment. However, what often is skipped over and not explained to potential patients or family members is that addiction is a chronic, progressive, often relapsing disease driven by underlying mental and emotional issues like mental health disorders, trauma, attachment issues, or other psychological, emotional, or spiritual disconnections. What is not explained is that, for the best chance of success in recovery and long-term success in life, a potential patient and their family members need to understand that they should be emotionally, logistically, and financially prepared for AT MINIMUM a year of some level of addiction treatment, clinical services, and recovery support.

Why? Because as a chronic illness driven by underlying causes and conditions, having time is necessary. Recovery is not about going through a detox to stop active drinking and drug use, getting physically sober, and then going about life. Addiction is much deeper, and in order to undercover, address, treat, and learn to manage the disease of addiction and create a sustainable life in recovery, patients need time. Patients need time to first feel physically better and need to be mentally clear to even partake in deep clinical work. Then, time is needed to appropriate diagnose any mental health conditions, figure out if any medication is needed (and the right type of medications) to manage any potential mental health and psychiatric issues. Time is also needed to uncover trauma, and then begin to treat it. Time is needed to address the entire family system, that has no doubt been negatively impacted by the active addiction of the identified patient, and work together to restructure the family unit into a healthy, communicative, supportive family system once again. Time is needed to address important initiatives like life skills development, social and relationship development, create a recovery community, address education goals, or active employment. Finally, through long-term treatment and support, patients and families learn accountability, and are given an opportunity to practice what they are learning in treatment in real time. They are given the opportunities to try and fail, with support from professionals who can continue to guide them, process with them, and continue helping them create and apply healthier approaches and coping mechanisms. Like any other chronic medical condition, addiction requires long-term care and support, because treatment and recovery are not necessarily linear.

Long-term studies on addiction have demonstrated high success rates of recovery. Those “success” rates include both sobriety and quality of life measurements, such as self—reported happiness or contentment, employments, quality of relationships, and ability to be productive and self-supportive. These studies demonstrate those success rates to be between 70% and 85%, which are much higher than the traditional 5%-to-15% often associated with traditional 28-day rehabs, when patients ONLY engage in rehab as an episodic event and do not follow a long-term recommendation for treatment and recovery support as aftercare to inpatient or residential care. These high success rates were achieved over 5 year studies, and show that patients that engaged in long-term treatment and recovery support through slow, descending levels of clinical treatment intensity, personal recovery engagement and support (specifically in these studies 12-Step fellowship groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous), and monitoring and accountability measures like drug testing receive desired results of sobriety and high quality of life.

Addiction is a chronic illness. Patients need long-term care. For each patient, long-term care may be different. Not every patient needs a 28-day addiction treatment program. Not every patient needs long-term extended care or a sober living. Some patients require medication assisted treatment (MAT) while others do not. Some patients may find recovery through an IOP and ongoing individual therapy or psychiatry. Other patients need the full gamut, from detox to 28-day rehab, to months of extended care, to IOP and sober living, and then individual therapy, counseling, and/or psychiatry. Recovery can be found through various means and treatment approaches, but the one thing that is undisputable is that the longer someone engages in some type of long-term treatment and both professional and recovery support through a continuum of care, the greater their chances are of not only finding recovery, but learning to achieve both sustainable recovery and a high quality of life.

If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or co-occurring disorder issues, please give us a call. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive dual-diagnosis addiction treatment in the Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or your loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (866) 929-4318 or email our team at info@marylandaddictionrecovery.com. For more information on all of our drug addiction, alcohol addiction, and co-occurring disorder services and recovery resources, please visit our website at www.marylandaddictionrecovery.com.

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