Drug addiction and alcoholism are chronic, progressive, ultimately fatal diseases if left untreated. They are illnesses that impact sufferers and families for many years, often creating behavioral patterns, emotional walls and other habits and processes that affect every aspect of an addict’s life and the lives of everyone they touch. Treatment is vital to overcome addiction and enter into a way of life that promotes, supports and sustains long-term recovery from addiction.
Most people are often ignorant or misinformed as to the type of treatment necessary. This occurs for a number of different reasons. Somehow over the last thirty some odd years, the common perception of addiction treatment has fit into a generic “30 day inpatient” box. The prevailing assumption being that, sure, a person has suffered from a horrible drug addiction that has negatively impacted their life for a long period of time so what they need is to go away for 30 days of treatment and return to regular life. The appalling relapse statistics and recovery outcomes for years have given ammunition to the idea that a 30 day treatment stay at rehab is simply not sufficient in terms of treating addiction. Going away to residential treatment or an inpatient rehab for 30 days (and now, often much less than that based on what insurance companies are willing to pay for that level of care) is often an extremely important first step in the process of treatment and recovery. However, inpatient and residential levels of care should be looked at more as the beginning stage (or the “acute” stage) of care and treatment for alcoholism or drug addiction.
More recently, the idea of looking at substance abuse addiction treatment from the perspective of a continuum of care or through a Recovery-Oriented System of Care (ROSC) has become more popular and mainstream. This idea is that in order to ensure the best quality of care and sustained, long term recovery outcomes for patients, an addict needs long term treatment that includes transitioning through levels of care. In each case the treatment would meet the patient where they are at, give them the necessary treatment at that stage of the process and then prepare them to reintegrate back into life. This means, not only to be clean and sober with basic tools of recovery, but also the necessary tools to leave treatment as a stable, independent, whole person in mind, body, spirit, education, vocational skill, family dynamics and relationships and other necessary life skills.
There is much talk surrounding addiction prevention and recovery that concerns evidence-based treatment and outcomes. A lot of this discussion centers around the idea of insurance companies paying for drug and alcohol addiction treatment that provide long term outcome studies or the Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) versus abstinence-based treatment debate. However, as anyone that has ever created a research study with an intended outcome certainly knows, statistics can always be skewed to create a desired result. There are studies upon studies on addiction and types of treatment that contradict each other. However, the one overriding agreement upon addiction treatment professionals is this: long term treatment leads to better recovery outcomes. And the best long term treatment consists of an extended care, transitional model of addiction treatment.
What are the benefits of an extended care, transitional model of treatment?
Everyone knows that addiction treatment and rehab can be expensive. Especially inpatient or residential stays. Even if health insurance can supplement the cost, there is often a decently large out of pocket expense. However, just like for diseases like cancer or diabetes, addiction is a disease that requires treatment. The benefits of extended care and transitional care is that it is often much cheaper and more affordable than a 30 day inpatient or residential rehab. While many inpatient hospitalizations can run upwards of $30,000 or more for a month, extended care and transitional treatment often can cost a third of that monthly, allowing for longer term treatment to take place.
As stated before, addiction is an illness that often impacts the addict for many years, negatively affecting the families, friends and others close to them over a long period of time and thus aids in creating habitual negative thoughts and behaviors. It is almost impossible to think this will be changed in a short time period. Recovery is a process and although someone may be clean and sober, they may still revert to dangerous or negative behaviors or may find themselves dealing with other new addictions such as sex, gambling or shopping that more often than not crop up once a person puts down substances. Therefore, the long term length of extended care and transitional models of treatment allow the necessary time to heal and to deal with the underlying causes and conditions of addiction. Furthermore, it allows for the necessary clinical support to deal with any regressions in attitude or behaviors that will typically occur and also to learn to live life and deal with everyday life issues that arise and the emotional reactions to those events in a safe and therapeutic environment.
- Reintegration and Life Purpose
A major benefit of extended care treatment and transitional models of treatment is the flexibility and support they offer to truly reintegrate a person back into everyday life and provide the necessary tools for long term recovery and success. A patient receiving treatment ideally will receive acute treatment in a residential or inpatient setting, getting the detox and vital treatment needed as they are just coming off a long period of substance abuse. Afterwards, reintegration begins. Stepping down to more of a “day treatment” or partial hospitalization (PHP) model, they would be able to live in a recovery residence or community living treatment setting, at night and on the weekends becoming immersed in the local recovery community, improving health through activities like exercise and yoga, reintegrating socially into both the treatment and outside community and learning important life skills like cooking, food shopping and budgeting. Moving on, this model allows them to continue treatment on an intensive outpatient (IOP) or outpatient level of care, thus still involved in treatment but decreasing in hours and intensity and instead moving into the direction of vocational skills, employment or education. This model allows patients to slowly integrate back into the workforce, reenroll in school to further or complete necessary education or to change careers all with support from a clinical team and therapeutic setting. The purpose is that once a patient has successfully completed their treatment, they are a fully functioning human being, with not only the necessary recovery tools, but also the outside support of the local recovery community and the necessary education and skill in place to be fully self-supporting.
Addiction is a disease and treatment is vital to intervene before an addict pays the ultimate price. Those seeking treatment for themselves or their loved ones need to understand the necessity in long term, extended care, transitional treatment and the benefits of this model. The purpose of treatment should not be to separate an addict or alcoholic from the drugs and alcohol. That can be accomplished in 7-10 days of detox. The purpose of addiction treatment is to examine all the issues that addiction has touched and destroyed, treat those underlying causes, conditions, attitudes, behaviors, emotions, connections and skills, and allow an addict or alcoholic to leave with the necessary tools to be a happy and usefully whole human being. In addiction treatment, there are no quick fixes and no loopholes. In addiction treatment, time is our friend.
If you or someone you know is in need of help because of drug and/or alcohol abuse, please give us a call. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center knows the importance of extended care to improve addiction recovery outcomes. This facility offers the most comprehensive addiction treatment in the Baltimore City, Baltimore County and entire Maryland and Washington, D.C. 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 (410) 773-0500 or email our team at Contact us today. For more information on all of our drug addiction and alcohol addiction services and recovery resources, please visit our web site at www.marylandaddictionrecovery.com.