Do Short-Term Substance Abuse Programs Really Work?

Addiction to alcohol and drugs develops as a confluence of several different factors and may occur under a variety of circumstances. At times, individuals develop an addiction as a result of attempting to alleviate stress with substance abuse. Others become addicted after years of abusing substances recreationally while the body becomes increasingly dependent on those substances for even natural processes. Some individuals who suffer from legitimate medical conditions take it upon themselves to increase their prescription medications, rendering those medicinal treatments less effective and leaving them with a habit that requires more of the substance than they get in their prescriptions. Nobody intends to become addicted and most are often surprised when they begin experiencing withdrawal symptoms after going a brief period without their substances of choice. Through biological predisposition, environmental factors, and/or a series of poor judgments, individuals end up with a serious disease that has ruined and even ended countless lives.

Fortunately, there are a number of treatment options available for those who suffer from addiction. As we have developed a more enlightened and informed understanding of the disease of addiction, we’ve develop effective programs that consist of treatments and therapies intended to address the profound effects of chemical dependency. Between counseling and psychotherapy, group sessions, addiction education, life skills training, and relapse prevention sessions, individuals can earn back their sobriety while learning to sustain it for the long-term. However, with the variety of treatments comes the importance of choosing the right program for one’s individual needs and preferences.

What Short-Term Treatments for Substance Abuse are Available?

For individuals in need of short-term addiction treatment, there are a variety of programs available. Short-term inpatient treatment programs tend to last about a month, or 28 to 30 days, and consist of counseling and psychotherapy, group sessions, addiction education, and some other necessary treatments that might include twelve step groups, skills building, and perhaps even holistic treatments. The therapy and counseling individuals receive as part of addiction treatment is often based on cognitive behavioral therapy, which is a goal-oriented approach that tends to be more effective when used for a shorter period of time. In a short-term inpatient program, the intensity of treatment remains fairly high for the program’s duration as the individual adjusts to newfound sobriety while also learning techniques and strategies for maintaining that sobriety. As part of the intake process, individuals will often develop an aftercare plan, which often consists of support groups and ongoing counseling that begins after completion of a treatment program.

There are also short-term addiction treatments that are outpatient rather than inpatient, such as partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs. Those who choose a partial hospitalization program likely have a stable, safe, and drug-free environment in which to live while participating in treatments, which can take place up to five days each week for several hours each day. In a partial hospitalization program, individuals benefit from more medical care and supervision while receiving treatment in a moderately intensive outpatient program. Intensive outpatient programs are similar to partial hospitalization, but is a step down in terms of the program’s intensity. Intensive outpatient programs tend to take place three days each week for only a few hours each day. Oftentimes the focus of an intensive outpatient program is relapse prevention.

Benefits of Short-Term Substance Abuse & Addiction Treatment

For some individuals, short-term addiction treatment can be beneficial. In cases where individuals have job or familial commitments that prevent them from participating in inpatient treatment, outpatient programs are considered more flexible than inpatient treatment, allowing individuals to work treatment into their schedules around existing obligations and responsibilities. Moreover, since they’re not residing on-site in the facility and participating in intensive treatments everyday, individuals can receive treatment for addiction privately without having to explain extended absences to employers, course instructors, extended family members, and so on. Another benefit of short-term and outpatient treatments is that it’s more accessible and less intimidating to those suffering from addiction; it’s common for those in active addiction to have a strong fear of the recovery process, but being able to recover in a short-term, outpatient program makes rehabilitation seem more achievable. Additionally, individuals who complete an inpatient or residential program often use short-term, outpatient programs as a stepping stone between residential treatment and aftercare, making these types of programs valuable for transitioning back to the community after achieving sobriety.

drug rehab group therapy

When Short-Term Treatment Might Not Be the Best Solution

The development of an addiction means that the substance abuse habit has become the central motivator of an individual’s life; he or she plans each day around the seeking, obtaining, and consumption of the substance of choice. Being such an encompassing behavior, recovery from addiction is a lifelong commitment that requires ongoing and continuous effort. It’s been suggested that individuals unable to commit to an inpatient or extended treatment program aren’t exhibiting the determination that is required to achieve lasting sobriety. Moreover, research has found that long-term treatment yields higher rates of success for individuals in recovery for the first time when compared to the first-time success rates of those who receive short-term treatment. It’s thought that with short-term programs representing such a small commitment, individuals don’t feel they are sacrificing much when they relapse after a short-term program rather than relapsing after months of inpatient treatment. In general, it’s said that the longer an individual receives intensive, comprehensive treatment, the greater his or her chances of success in maintaining sobriety will be.

Learn More About Short-Term & Extended Treatment Options Today

Although long-term treatment should always be preferred over programs that are brief, any treatment is better than no treatment at all. If you or someone you love is suffering from chemical dependency and would like to explore treatment options, call Recovery Hub at 888-220-4352. We have a team of recovery specialists available, offering free assessments and consultations to those in need. A better, healthier life is just a phone call away.

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