“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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