Short-term inpatient drug rehab vs long-term

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What are the pros and cons of shorter and longer durations of drug rehab programs?

Difference between short-term and long-term drug rehab

Recent statistics have shown that more and more people are struggling with a substance use disorder, their overall quality of life being impaired. Whether addiction regards the excess use of drugs, nicotine, alcohol, or prescription medication, it will influence one's thinking and the ability to lead a happy and healthy existence. Addiction treatment centers welcome those who are battling any kind of substance use disorder, providing both short-term and long-term drug rehab programs. Naturally, the length of one's rehabilitation is influenced by several factors, including the type of addiction, symptoms experienced, and relapse risk.

Long-term versus short-term drug rehab

Generally-speaking, a long-term drug rehab program has a minimum duration of at least three months. The residential stay can extend up to one or two years, especially when it comes to severe addictions. Short-term addiction treatment programs, on the other hand, have a maximum duration of three months. These programs usually vary between three and six weeks, and are used for those with less severe substance use disorders. In some cases, such programs might be used for intense recoveries, provided the patient can withstand this type of recovery.

Specialists recommend long-term drug rehab programs for those who are battling substance addiction. This is because numerous studies have confirmed that longer treatment periods guarantee a higher rate of success; most patients need at least three months to either reduce or stop the substance use. From those who have completed such a program, the majority have managed to remain sober within one year from conclusion. Basically, the more time one spends in addiction treatment, the better are the chances of achieving long-term sobriety. Such programs have also helped patients address mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety.

When a person has used various stimulants over and over again, the brain suffers specific changes. The more time passes, the more the brain will rely on the respective stimulants to function. By checking into a long-term drug rehab program, patients have the opportunity to work on getting their brain to a healthy place. For the brain to stop relying on drugs, a longer period of time is necessary. Moreover, physical recovery is necessary as well, requiring just as much time. Within this program, patients also develop life skills, learning how to cope with potential triggers, without resorting to drugs.

Short-term addiction treatment programs are different not only in duration, but also in the approach to recovery. Given the short residential stay, patients might not necessarily give up their addiction, but they will take a first step in the right direction. Most of them learn how to reduce the drug use, going through the necessary detox. Just like with the long-term programs, medical supervision is ensured for the withdrawal symptoms and cravings experienced. As not much can be achieved in this period of time, there are a lot of patients who might decide to continue their recovery in a long-term program. This is necessary to address not only their addiction, but also its root causes.

It is also worth mentioning that short-term recovery programs can be explored as a breather from one's addiction. Recommended for those who are not heavily addicted, such programs offer the opportunity to take a step back and analyze the situation. Sometimes, this comes as a reality check, forcing the respective person to acknowledge the destructive effect of addiction and fight for complete abstinence. From a different perspective, short-term programs are sometimes preferred, as they do not force one to commit to a longer rehabilitation period. When a patient succeeds completing the three-month rehab, he/she might be more inclined to try a longer program and work towards achieving the much-desired sobriety.

Deciding on a particular rehab program is a difficult decision, but luckily this is not something you have to decide on your own. The specialists working within the respective addiction treatment center will help you opt for the best program, in accordance with your needs and challenges experienced. In discussing your options, a number of factors will be considered, including the severity of your addiction, specific treatment needs, and rehab goals. As you will see for yourself, sometimes it is for the best to begin with a short-term program, and then make the transition to a longer recovery.

Advantages and disadvantage of short-term drug rehab programs

No two patients are the same, so it is important to remember that the rehab program is usually adapted to the patient, and not the other way around. That being said, it is equally vital to be aware that each program has both advantages and disadvantages.

Short-term rehab programs have specific advantages to offer. First and foremost, they allow patients to form an idea about what to expect in rehab, including when it comes to detox and the actual recovery. Just as it was mentioned above, they help patients take a break from their addiction and acknowledge they have a problem. One can also attempt to reduce the drug use, dealing with the withdrawal; the specialists working in the addiction treatment center will provide access to both medication and therapy.

Those who are not heavily addicted might manage to stop the drug use altogether, under medical supervision. For those who are battling a more severe addiction, a short-term program might only represent the first step of the journey. From a practical point of view, it is worth mentioning that short-term programs are often supported by insurance policies. Though short, such a program might give the body the break it needs to feel better; the patient can even begin to work on gaining the necessary life skills for relapse prevention. They can learn how to address potential triggers, avoiding the heavy drug consumption as much as possible.

Short-term programs can also help "seasoned" patients to remember the power of sobriety. Those who have been in rehab before and recently experienced a brief lapse whereas their sobriety is concerned can benefit from such programs. During their short residential stay, they can work on managing the new triggers, drawing on past experiences. They might also benefit from meeting other people who are in the same situation, enjoying the value of shared experiences.

For many patients, a short-term program also means less time spent away from their loved ones, which is a definite advantage to consider. It is also a comforting thought to know that one might be able to take a short leave of absence from the job, returning after the recovery has been completed. Short-term programs can be beneficial for a reluctant patient, showing that recovery is possible. Moreover, many of these programs offer additional harm-reduction services, which help those dealing with frequent lapses in their sobriety.

In terms of disadvantages, short-term programs do not offer sufficient time to address the root of one's addiction. In many cases, substance use disorders are caused or accompanied by psychological, behavioral, or emotional issues. If these remain unaddressed, it is highly likely that one will go back to drugs, with a significant risk of relapse. The therapy for the mentioned issues should unfold over a longer period of time to be successful.

For instance, let's say that someone is addicted to alcohol. Unfortunately, the chronic consumption of alcoholic beverages wreaks havoc on the body; the respective substances remain in the system for long periods of time, with withdrawal spreading over several weeks. As a result, a short-term program might not be enough for the patient to overcome withdrawal and reach a point where he/she is both healthy and stable. This is the reason why short-term programs are associated with an increased relapse risk.

Given the short length of the rehab program, the treatment in itself might feel rushed. No matter how well it is structured, there might not be enough time to address co-existing issues. To treat underlying problems, such as mental health conditions, a longer period of time is necessary. Short-term programs only scratch the surface, this being the reason why many patients are recommended to continue their recovery with longer residential stays.

Advantages and disadvantages of long-term drug rehab programs

Medical specialists recognize addiction as a chronic condition, which has to be treated over longer periods of time. It is not realistic to think that substance use disorders can be treated overnight, especially if acknowledge that it takes time to heal and recover. Long-term rehab programs have been known to offer the best results, allowing patients to overcome withdrawal and focus on achieving complete abstinence.

The biggest advantage of a long-term program is that it offers enough for the brain to recover from the effects of addiction. It takes time for the brain to stop relying on drugs, with physical healing following as a natural result. In addition, patients are working hard to develop new life skills, so they do not return to drug use after the residential stay ends. They are learning to manage stress and difficult emotions, as well as work on a healthy existence. The taught life skills might also regard one's job, personal relationships, and general health. Patients gain the necessary strength to manage and overcome their cravings, which is another benefit to consider.

Many addiction treatment centers have long-term drug treatment programs in which patients are introduced to what is known as a recovery toolkit. This includes skills and strategies they can rely on during difficult moments. Dedicated therapists teach them to cope with tough situations, but also how to choose a positive, healthy behavior instead of drugs or other stimulants. As mentioned above, long-term programs allow patients to work on associated mental health issues, including depression and anxiety. These are known as residential dual diagnosis treatment programs, being suited to people of different ages and occupations.

To summarize, long-term drug treatment programs help patients focus on underlying issues, after overcoming the associated withdrawal. Patients have a longer period of time available to work on their addiction and its root causes, with a real chance of breaking bad habits. They benefit from a structured daily schedule, with access to a wide range of services.

What about disadvantages? Well, it is essential to remember that any program has its drawbacks. With long-term programs, the treatment cost is a major concern. Insurance policies do not always cover the associated costs of rehab, so this might represent a stress factor for the patient in question. Moreover, one will have to leave his/her job in order go into rehab, so naturally the stress of financial difficulties will add to the current problems. Some employers allow their employees to take a break from their job, in order to deal with their addiction, so it is worth exploring this option. Given the risk of losing one's place of work, some people might prefer a short-term rehab program instead.

As stated above, a long-term program might also pressure the patient into committing to a recovery goal he/she is not prepared to achieve. This kind of pressure can do more harm than good, so it might be better to begin one's recovery journey with a short-term program. Each addiction treatment center organizes an initial meeting with the patient, where such matters are discussed. In this way, one can be certain that the patient in question has chosen the best program for his/her individual situation.

Parents might not be drawn to long-term programs, despite the obvious need for recovery. This is connected to the possibility of losing one's job, but also of not having childcare covered. Many addiction treatment centers have started to offer long-term rehab programs designed especially for parents. A caseworker is assigned to each case to monitor the progress made, with efforts being made to ensure the necessary childcare, often through the amiability of one's immediate family.

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Every addiction is unique and this is the reason why a rehab program must be adapted to the patient's needs. Patients respond differently to various approaches and require a specific duration of treatment. As you have seen, both short- and long-term rehab programs have both advantages and disadvantages. In choosing a specific program, remember that we all function at a difference pace. Recovery should not be about speed, but rather about getting to the finish line in a healthy and stable state.

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