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Residential Treatment Programs For Addictions

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Updated March 20, 2009

The Bottom Line

Residential treatment programs provide you with the opportunity to immerse yourself in the process of overcoming your addiction. You will be living in the program, which means you will be sleeping, eating and engaged in therapy at the treatment program for the duration of your stay. No other type of program will give you this level of intensity, focus or support in facing and overcoming your addiction.

Pros

  • Residential treatment demonstrates to you and to others that you are genuinely committed to change.
  • It gives you a complete break from your daily life, and addictive patterns.
  • It allows the possibility and potential safety to communicate more honestly for an extended period.
  • It gives you time to understand yourself and work through what causes your addiction.
  • It gives you a good period of abstinence from which to begin your new lifestyle.

Cons

  • Work and childcare responsibilities are not possible while in treatment.
  • You may need to come clean about your addiction in order to make the necessary arrangements
  • You will have to go back to the real world and face your triggers eventually.
  • Residential programs are expensive (although your costs may be covered).
  • Residential programs vary in their continuity of care afterwards.

Description

  • Different programs are available -- find one that is right for your lifestyle and goals.
  • Make sure you can live with the underlying belief system -- medical, spiritual, psychological -- while you are there.
  • The pressures of day-to-day needs, such as housework and preparing food are taken care of, leaving you to focus on recovery.
  • Do it when you are committed -- it is demoralizing and undermining to other clients if you do not adhere to the program.
  • It can be much easier to become abstinent in an environment that is fully supportive of you doing so.
  • While you are in the program, you can break the pattern of complex rituals and behaviors involved in your addiction.
  • You have time to explore ideas you may not have considered before, such as spirituality and resolving childhood issues.
  • Be aware that your old triggers will still be there when you come out of treatment.
  • Sexual and romantic relationships with other clients are not a good idea.
  • Sexual and romantic relationships with staff are unethical and usually illegal.

Guide Review - Residential Treatment Programs For Addictions

If there was ever a time to focus exclusively on yourself, your needs and your feelings, it is while you are in residential treatment. Don’t hold back –- throw yourself into the process, even if you find it difficult. The more you explore and work through in therapy, the better equipped you will be to cope without your addiction.

Make the most of your time in treatment. Some, but not all, residential facilities expose you to alternative means of soothing yourself that you may have never tried before, such as pools, hot-tubs, massage, and exercise equipment.

Many people go into residential treatment hoping that it is a one-shot deal -– 28 days to being cured of an addiction. Success in residential treatment can give you false confidence. With all the support, and so few responsibilities, overcoming an addiction can seem easier than when you have to struggle with all the responsibilities of life, which you will have to face when you return.

Residential treatment is an artificial environment. Maintaining a lifestyle free of addictions takes careful planning and many changes to be put in place in your normal environment. In reality, recovery is a lifelong process, and you are vulnerable to many risks immediately following the first flush of recovery.

Relationships in residential treatment can seem deeper than those in your normal life, in part, because you are freed from other pressures and responsibilities. This can alienate you from your friends and family, and cause you to miss and even feel grief for relationships made in therapy. Generally, it is not advisable to attempt to maintain relationships made in therapy outside, and in particular, to become romantically or sexually involved with other clients.

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