Most struggling addicts and alcoholics do not consider the idea of living in a long term drug rehab, because it is too big of a change; too large of a commitment. To just walk away from your current life and live in a treatment center for several months or even years is just too overwhelming for most people to grasp.
When the therapists and counselors initially suggested long term treatment to me, my reaction was that it was too much. I thought that my time was more precious than that and that I had important things to do! Silly me. I proceeded to go get drunk and abuse drugs for another 12 months straight.
Long term treatment is the last house on the block before you get to jail….or before you end up dead. If you’ve exhausted all of your options, tried outpatient treatment, counseling, inpatient treatment, and so on, and nothing has worked for you, then it might be time to consider long term drug rehab.
My goal here is to convince you that it is not that bad. I know, it sounds like a death sentence. But long term treatment is not that bad, and if you give it a chance, it will change your life.
Long term drug rehab = A loss of freedom?
I think my biggest concern with the idea of attending long term treatment was that I believed the loss of freedom in my life would be devastating. I guess at this point I was still thinking that long term would be similar to jail or prison.
Of course, this was not the case, and long term rehab actually did the exact opposite for me. When I was still drinking and using drugs, I was actually trapped in a prison of my own making, caught up in a cycle of addiction, and basically forced to chase down more drugs and alcohol every day. Living in long term treatment changed all that. Within a few months of living in long term, I had gained back all the freedom in the world and was no longer dependent on drugs and alcohol. I had learned a new way to live and I could start enjoying life again.
Now it was true that in the beginning, I did sacrifice a small amount of “freedom.” I went to detox and residential treatment for 2 weeks before moving into a long term program. At the long term program, I was restricted to only 3 hours of personal time each day in which I could leave the facility. I was also focused heavily on meetings and therapy at that time.
Here is the whole key to it though: as I stayed in long term rehab for longer, I was given more and more freedom and responsibility. After a few months it was almost like simply having a room for rent and living with other recovering addicts and alcoholics. I could come and go as I pleased.
In my opinion, this is one thing that really made long term treatment work well for me. You start out with some heavy restrictions, but they slowly give you your freedom and responsibility back. This is exactly what I needed at the time in order to stay clean and sober.
Supportive environment + multiple recovery strategies + accountability = You staying sober
Long term drug rehab worked for me and here is what made it work:
1) Supportive environment – you are living with others in recovery who are all in the same boat you are. You help each other to stay clean. This is huge.
2) Multiple recovery strategies – one luxury of long term treatment is that you have plenty of time to try different things. I was exposed to one-on-one counseling, group therapy, 12 step meetings, sponsorship, and so on. It is more likely this way that you will find something that works for you.
3) Accountability – the long term rehab that I lived at did random drug tests and breathalyzers on us. This helped keep us straight and also kept the environment safe for all of us. This was huge.
There are other advantages to long term treatment but those are the big ones. Basically, if you truly have a desire to stay clean and sober, then long term treatment can give you the tools you need to get there. However…..
Long term is not a magic bullet
Even with all of that support and accountability, I was shocked to see how many people failed to stay clean and sober while living in long term drug rehab. It almost seemed like the rate of recovery is no better than conventional, shorter term treatment. Why is this the case?
I think the main reason is because most people are not really ready to get clean and sober. It still comes back to personal motivation. How bad do you want it? If someone really wants sobriety then long term treatment can give them the means to get there. However, very few people really want to be sober on a deep level.
The level of surrender you must achieve in order to stay sober is an absolute. That means you must surrender fully to whatever is suggested. If you are not beat down enough to that point where you will do anything, then chances are you are not going to make it.
If you are hesitant about going to long term treatment then you should probably skip it. When you are at a point where long term will actually work for you, then you will accept the solution with open arms.
Just my opinion based on my own experience and what I’ve seen from others……