Today, more than 24.5 million people in the United States are addicted to a substance. Whether drugs or alcohol, that substance addiction changes how they live their lives, damaging their health, and often costing them money, family time, and even psychological growth and health.
Rehab, or inpatient care, is often the primary treatment solution for substance dependence and addiction. Unfortunately, only about 10% of all addicted individuals will ever seek out professional care, and even fewer will ever go to rehab. Inpatient residential addiction treatment is expensive, time consuming, and technically not necessary for everyone but, it can be extremely beneficial, especially to those who have tried and failed to quit using other methods.
If you’re debating options for yourself or for a loved one, it’s important that you understand why rehab is a good option, what your alternatives are, and who should attend rehab.
What is ‘Rehab’ Exactly?
Rehab, or rehabilitation, is a form of inpatient care, typically carried out at a treatment facility. Patients stay anywhere from 7 days to several months (typically 30 days but up to 6 months), sharing rooms, working with a group, and experiencing daily care and treatment.
In quality rehabilitation facilities, therapy begins with a medically supported detox schedule, followed by evaluation, and a custom therapy schedule with counseling, group therapy, and one-on-one behavioral therapy offered by a psychologist. Basic treatment centers will offer some amenities and games and a large number of patients while higher end facilities will offer additional forms of therapy, more amenities, smaller patient groups, and often more value in the form of nutrition and exercise therapy. A good rehab center will also follow up with aftercare programs, support, and the ability to get help after leaving.
In short, rehab is a highly immersive way to get clean or sober, providing a full range of medical and psychological support to ensure recovery.
What Are Some Alternatives to Rehab?
While there are many alternatives to rehab, the two safest and best-supported options are outpatient addiction treatment and sober living.
Outpatient Addiction Treatment – Outpatient treatment is one of your top alternatives to rehab, and a common solution recommended for anyone suffering from a light to moderate addiction. While less intensive than inpatient care, outpatient care allows many people to seek out therapy and help without unduly upsetting their lives. How does it work? Most programs begin with medically supported detox, typically using a prescription drug such as buprenorphine to reduce withdrawal symptoms. During this period, you go into checkups with your doctor, who will monitor your health and ensure that you aren’t continuing to use. After detox, you begin a treatment program, typically seeing a psychologist and counselor on a regular basis (daily to weekly depending on the schedule). You’ll also likely attend group therapy, and be asked to change your diet, start exercising, and take steps to improve your emotional, physical, and mental health.
Outpatient care is excellent if you want to continue going to work or taking care of family and can be added on as just another part of your day. You won’t’ have to take time off work, you won’t have a long leave of absence, and you will save a significant amount of money. However, you won’t receive the same level or depth of care and you will have significantly fewer touchpoints with your counselor and therapist, especially in the first few weeks of care.
Sober Living – Sober living communities or sober houses are communities where inhabitants create drug and alcohol-free environments. Often enforced by early curfews, searches, and losing the ability to stay if you slip up and relapse, sober living homes provide social accountability and motivation. Many also include a wide variety of sober activities and can be positioned close enough to areas so that you can continue to go to work and live your life while living there. Sober living homes do require that you be sober when you move in, which is why they are often chosen as part of after-care, but many people choose them alongside outpatient addiction treatment rather than inpatient care.
Do they help? While sober living won’t replace getting treatment, getting involved in the social and group meeting (typically 12-step) aspects of sober living homes can dramatically improve your chances at a full recovery. If you need a place to stay and don’t mind communal living, sober homes can be an excellent way to ease back into everyday sober life, with a supporting and sober community around you.
Who Needs Traditional Rehab?
While inpatient addiction treatment is a strong solution, many people don’t think it’s right for them. Going means taking a considerable amount of time away from family or off work. It often means revealing your substance use disorder to friends and family, and it can be expensive.
Many treatment facilities do offer workarounds and alternatives. For example, single parents can often seek out child care services. You aren’t obliged to tell an employer medical reasons behind taking medical leave. And, your insurance will often cover a large portion or even all of your treatment. However, many people can try and succeed with alternatives to rehab.
Inpatient care may be necessary if you:
- Have tried and failed to get clean or sober with outpatient care
- Have relapsed in the past
- Have a long history of drug or alcohol addiction (longer than 5 years)
- Have experienced trauma which must be treated
- Suffer a comorbid disorder such as anxiety, PTSD, or depression
- Need additional medical care
- You’re using a substance that can be dangerous to stop on your own
- You suffer a medical condition that makes substance use dangerous
If you need special or emergency care, a rehab facility is almost always the best choice.
Should You Choose Inpatient Addiction Treatment?
Inpatient addiction treatment isn’t always necessary, but it is often recommended. However, the largest influence in outcomes is typically a) the quality of support and family support offered and b) the relevance and quality of medical and psychological treatment given. So, a high-quality outpatient program, combined with a supporting and loving family, can be every bit as effective as an inpatient program. Most people have more access to quality mental and physiological care in treatment centers, where care is available around the clock, which can contribute to why rehab is often a standard option. However, it’s not essential to recovery and you may benefit just as much from an outpatient program.
If you or someone you love is suffering from a substance use disorder, your primary goal should be getting help. If you can’t leave work or family, outpatient care is a solution, and it can be an effective solution, especially when combined with 12-step or other support groups, adequate motivation, and support from family and friends. Just make sure that you discuss any concerns and your medical history of substance abuse with your psychologist first so that they can give you a recommendation based on your personal history.
If you’re unsure whether to choose an inpatient or outpatient program, you can also discuss your needs with a treatment center. Most offer free consultations and later a full assessment to help you determine specific medical needs – which can allow you to make a much more informed choice.
Please contact Lighthouse Treatment Center today for more information. We are to help and happy to provide a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced treatment advisors.