Addiction Treatment


Long Term Treatment Centers – What to Expect

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“What can I expect from a Long Term Treatment Center?”

Most people who are considering getting help for a drinking or drug problem are a little put off by the idea of “long term treatment.” The idea leaves a bad taste in their mouths, and for good reason–it’s a very scary proposition. The idea of long term treatment sounds a lot like voluntarily going to jail. When I made the decision myself to enter a long term treatment program, I must admit that I was devastated and hopeless and would not have much minded if they had suggested I go to jail instead of a long term treatment program. The two ideas carried equal amounts of distaste in my mind.

Of course, long term treatment turned out to be the single greatest decision I could have ever made. It was what gave me my life back, and was the key to finally overcoming my addiction. Previously, I had gone to short term residential treatment centers, only to use almost immediately after getting out. Living for 20 months in a long term facility gave me the support that I needed to get a head start on my recovery. If you are considering long term treatment–for yourself or for someone else–here is what you should know about it:

1. Long term treatment works – Or to put it in comparative terms, long term treatment has a much higher success rate than shorter residential programs. There are lots of facts and figures and percentages out there regarding success rates, and you really have to take them all with a grain of salt, because it is so difficult to get reliable data in this area. But one thing is for certain: long term treatment boasts a much higher success rate than any short term visits. My personal experience proves this to me very well: I relapsed almost immediately after going to two different residential programs, but I am still clean and sober since I left long term treatment almost 7 years ago. It worked for me when other recovery options had failed.

2. Long term treatment provides structure AND freedom – This is the beauty of long term treatment. Most long term programs start you out by giving you a lot of structure: meetings that you have to go to, groups you have to attend, and so on. Most of them will encourage or require participation in a twelve step fellowship, which usually includes getting a sponsor. The structured environment is critical for maintaining sobriety when you are first getting clean. Then, as you continue on in your stay, long term programs slowly give you your freedom back, so that you can learn to be a responsible member of society again. The idea is for you to grow in your recovery and slowly gain back your responsibilities and freedoms.

3. Long term treatment centers are funded differently – Short term residential programs–usually 28 days or less–are very expensive, despite the fact that their effectiveness is so low. Long term programs are almost always funded differently, so that they are much more affordable, and many of them can accommodate people who have no money at all. Some long term programs allow the residents to go back to work and pay a percentage of their paycheck towards the home. However they are set up financially, you should know that long term treatment is not as expensive as it might sound, and is generally an option for just about anyone–regardless of their financial situation.

4. Long term treatment benefits young people – Here is something that I have found to hold true over the years: The younger you are, the more likely it is that you need long term treatment in order to stay clean. Part of the reason for this has to do with the heavy amount of peer influence that is involved with younger addicts. Because of this, it can be very difficult for a young person to maintain any sort of sobriety if they continue to associate with their using friends. Friends make up such a big part of their lives, so it is critical that those old using buddies are replaced with people in recovery. Going to long term treatment makes this transition almost seamless. New friendships are established immediately upon entering a long term program.

5. Long term treatment centers are not anything like jail – Most people think that long term treatment centers are similar to jail; that they are a locked down facility with little or no freedom offered to the residents who stay there. This is not the case–long term treatment is about transitional living, about preparing recovering addicts and alcoholics to become productive members of society.

6. Long term treatment offers you the best chance at lasting recovery – Because of these reasons, long term treatment is the strongest option for recovery. It clearly offers more support and stability than other treatment options, such as short term residential programs, individual counseling sessions, or intensive out patient therapy.

Overcoming Objections to Long Term Treatment

Some people who make excellent candidates for long term treatment programs object to them based on a number of excuses. The basis for most of these excuses is that people believe that they have far to many responsibilities to attend to, and that they cannot possibly put themselves into treatment–because who would take care of these responsibilities? Remind them that they are on the brink of losing everything–including their own life–if they do not get help. Reassure them that things will be handled while they are gone.

Long term treatment will save your life….it affords you every opportunity with which to stay clean and sober in a safe environment. If you have tried other forms of treatment in the past and failed to stay clean, you might want to consider long term. It really is your best chance for success.

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  • jeanette

    how do I do I find a longterm treatment program?

  • Art Mann

    I didn’t catch your name, but I admire you’re writing skills and content.
    Short term vs long term… I guess it depends on the person. What I don’t get is why these places do not have counselors follow up by phone or email after their client leaves. Reminds me of in Shawshank Redemption, the old guy gets released and then hangs himself. I’ve heard of similar stories of people right after leaving rehab. I agree with you, some of us need longterm. But, especially for people who have little or no support system to return to, why can’t rehab centers train people to support their clients to adjust to the transition? Most of the people I met in rehab had been there or other places before. I’m tempted to believe that rehabs are tempted to not help people so much that they’d be likely to not relapse and return.

  • Patrick

    You raise some valid points, Art. Sometimes the treatment center industry feels like a revolving door, because the same clients seem to go in and out. But the industry is not starved for repeat business….the epidemic of addiction among this nation’s youth is enough to keep our hands full. Believe it or not, the treatment center industry is actually trying to help people.

    Jeanette, to find a longterm treatment program in your area, I would start by contacting a local treatment center or detox unit or guidance clinic. If you can’t find one of those, contact a local hospital and ask them to direct you towards any nearby substance abuse facilities or counseling. Those are the people that can help place you in a long term facility.

  • trauma recovery center, post traumatic stress disorder

    There are many centers offering a long term treatment depending on your condition. An easy way to find them is over the internet. Another way would be using the yellow pages. You can ask your doctor to refer you to one if you think it’s necessary.

  • Anonymous

    You have to want sobriety and be willing to go to any lengths to get it.
    For me prayer isn’t working neither is daily attendance at meetings. Neither is daily mediation and prayer.

    Every morning, I read Romans, Chapter 13 and that is not working either. Regular attendance at AA meetings is not working either. I guess I have to change my attitude and behavior. I still want to drink. P.S. Idon’t have a sponsor. That is probably one of my major problems. The truth is: I want to drink.

  • Patrick

    Hi there Anonymous, thanks for your comment. I wouldn’t blame yourself or your failings on the lack of a sponsor…I don’t see that as being critical in achieving sobriety, although it could be helpful.

    It sounds like you just haven’t really surrendered yet. Have you really admitted to your innermost self that you are a true alcoholic? Have you really made peace with that fact? Have you made peace with the idea that you can never drink successfully? Take some time to genuinely explore these questions, really think them through, and I think you will start to accept yourself and your disease and come to a position where you will eventually be able to move forward with sobriety, if that is what you desire.

    But you gotta want it.

    Good luck to you and God bless.

  • michele young

    this is my daughters e-mail please send me more information on this place please

  • Deborah

    Thankyou for your honesty and these articles were very inspiring to me. Gotta stop drinking.
    D Mo

  • http://n/a eric

    This is really useful stuff.
    I am just starting on this road of recovery. Many self doubts, but the time has come.
    Thanks for your help.