People have asked me in the past: “Can a stay at a long term treatment retreat house increase my chances of staying clean and sober in recovery?”
My answer is almost always a resounding “yes,” with just a few qualifiers.
Let’s take a closer look:
* First of all, long term treatment is almost always the best, most intensive form of addiction treatment that a person can receive. There really is nothing beyond long term that you can do to try to overcome your addiction. If long term fails for you, your only other option is to try other treatment centers or other forms of long term treatment. But using less intensive forms of treatment, such as counseling or outpatient therapy, is probably a step in the wrong direction–at least for the individual who continuously relapses. In other words, if other treatments fail, then seek long term. If that fails, then seek more long term. Not much else can be done.
* Second, anyone who has a true desire to stay clean and sober can almost always get the support that they need by staying in a long term home of some sort. This is because you basically have a 24 hour support system living in there, in that you are living with a group of peers consisting of other recovering addicts and alcoholics. The support is outstanding.
* Accountability is huge in recovery. Most people dismiss the idea because they think they are strong enough to motivate themselves, but they are not. Therefore, the accountability that you get when you live in a long term rehab is incredibly valuable. Certain programs that have shown outstanding success rates (such as MHPRC) do so because the participants 1) Have a lot to lose (they are medical professionals) but also 2) They are held accountable in the long term with weekly random drops that last for years. This is HUGE. Do not dismiss the fact that accountability can help to keep the addict in line. It does not work in every case but it certainly helps when you look at the big picture and run the numbers (MHPRC success rate is like 70 percent or something!).
* Unfortunately, long term care is not a magic bullet for success. If it were, then the treatment center industry would shift greatly in order to accommodate the idea that longer stays produce significantly higher success rates. But the fact is, most treatment centers only offer shorter stays because
1) Funding is limited and there is less money to go around than before, so stays in treatment get shorter and shorter over time, and
2) Statistically, long term treatment only offers a slight edge over shorter stays, and the enormous increase in cost becomes difficult to justify, because the success rate only goes up slightly, rather than significantly.
So the bottom line is that long term addiction treatment does work, and it definitely does work better than shorter stays, but it is not enough of a significant jump to really shift the industry in that direction. The fact is, cost per dollar, tax money that is spent helping addicts can go further if the people only stay in short term residential for 10 days or so, rather than, say, 90 days. The problem is that the vast majority of people who stay in long term centers for 90 days or even longer still end up relapsing shortly after leaving (or even during) their treatment.
That said, long term is still the best choice for anyone who is serious about getting help for their addiction and changing their life. Seek out long term if other methods have failed you.