Long and Short Term Drug and Alcohol Treatment Facilities

Long and Short Term Drug and Alcohol Treatment Facilities


Some of the more effective drug and alcohol treatment facilities out there are long term rehabs.  There are some good arguments both for and against long term, so let’s take a closer look and break it all down.

First of all, a drug and alcohol treatment facility that can actually put the individual into a pattern of action is very powerful.  In other words, what happens at rehab?  Do you sit there in lectures and groups all day, or are you out in the real world, attending 12 step meetings and actually getting your feet wet with “real world” recovery?  In the case of a long term rehab facility, you are out there experiencing real world recovery.  In my opinion, this is superior to traditional, short term rehab where you are simply learning about stuff passively and being told what will keep you clean and sober.

How do you really learn about something?  We learn best by actually doing it.  Get your hands dirty and get involved and actually do the thing.  That is how we learn best.  And that is what long term treatment offers us.  The chance to do these things that will potentially keep us clean and sober in the long run.  The beauty of long term is that we are being held accountable while we are doing all of this “hands on” recovery stuff.

Nature in my hands
Creative Commons License photo credit: Alessandro Musicorio

Most alcohol and drug treatment facilities are not long term, and there is good reason for this.  Long term is expensive, and it seriously limits the number of addicts and alcoholics that can be treated in a given period of time.  For example, a long term facility that has 12 beds but is a six month program will only be able to treat a few dozen addicts over the course of a year, whereas a traditional rehab that only has a 2 week program will obviously be able to treat several hundred addicts each year. Interestingly enough, about the same number will probably stay clean and sober from each of these two setups.  One is high volume, the other is based on quality.  In both cases, significantly less than half will stay clean and sober for a full year.

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The other big problem with long term is that no one wants to go.  People have families, jobs, and other commitments that seem to get in the way of their making a commitment to long term treatment.  But if they don’t get their addiction under control, then they might eventually lose their jobs, their families, and everything else that they have.


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