Which Substance Abuse Services Have the Best Chance at Helping Someone to...

Which Substance Abuse Services Have the Best Chance at Helping Someone to Get Clean and Sober?


There are a number of different treatment options for the struggling drug addict or alcoholic, and many people want to know what the most effective form of treatment is.

Of course this will depend a bit on each individual’s situation, but there are also some general assumptions that we can make about treatment that seem to hold weight. For example, the idea that more treatment is usually better seems to pan out for most people.

If you go to one AA meeting per week and you keep relapsing, what about going to one AA meeting every day? This line of thinking has proven to help many people in recovery, simply be helping them to focus more heavily on their treatment. More is better. This is generally true, and can be shown statistically as well.

Of course there are always exceptions, and perhaps the biggest exception comes down to the individual who simply is not ready to stop using drugs and alcohol. If the person has not yet surrendered to their disease, then guess what? The form of treatment that they use has no bearing on the outcome.

You can’t force a person to get clean and sober. They have to want it. And even then, they might fail, depending on the situation.

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Treatment is hard. Sometimes the best we can do is to push people to keep trying, keep seeking more substance abuse services, and so on.

Why outpatient treatment is not the ideal solution

In my opinion, outpatient substance abuse services is never an ideal solution, even if this option seems to fit the individual the best. The reason for this is because outpatient treatment only educates the person, but does nothing to change their environment directly.

When you go to inpatient rehab, you get the environmental reprieve from drugs and alcohol. It is no longer accessible. But with outpatient rehab, you go home each day, and the threat is always there. You get no protection from the constant threat of relapse.

I believe that success in drug addiction treatment is more about the doing, rather than the learning. Outpatient treatment is set up like school. They are attempting to educate you. But addiction recovery is something that you live, it is a process, not a thing that you memorize and then apply “sometime later on.”

Plus, outpatient treatment is the least intensive choice. “More is better.” The other options offer more treatment than outpatient.

Slightly better treatment for addiction: inpatient rehab

As I mentioned above, if you check into an inpatient rehab, you then get the added protection of a drug and alcohol free environment.

But it is more than that.

You also get the intimacy and the distraction-free environment that comes with staying in a facility for a few weeks. You get a complete reprieve from your whole life, not just from drugs and alcohol.

When you do outpatient treatment, you are still trying to buy groceries at night, feed the kids, and so on. But with inpatient substance abuse services, you get relief from all of that stuff, and get to focus on learning how to live clean and sober again.

That said, inpatient treatment runs awfully short these days, and you would be lucky to stay in a facility for 28 days. Most will probably only have funding or insurance that covers about 10 days or so. This is really too short to make a meaningful difference in most people’s lives, because it is just not long enough of a break for them to get a clean start.

Which is what makes the third option the best one:

Perhaps the best choice for recovery services: long term drug rehab

Practically everyone balks at the idea of long term substance abuse services. “Actually live in rehab for over a month? Are you nuts?” they might say.

People believe that they have all of these responsibilities, and that the world would fall apart if they were locked away in a rehab for any length of time.

This is nonsense. Many addicts and alcoholics die suddenly. Does the world carry on without them? You bet it does. And so it would if they chose treatment instead.

Long term treatment is simply “more treatment” and in all cases it is actually the MOST treatment that you could possibly get. Of course, it will not work at all if the person is dead set against recovery, but it is still the best option for anyone who is desperate to stay clean and sober.

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