Inpatient Treatment – What the Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know

inpatient treatment

Inpatient treatment is often necessary for those who are unable to stop using drugs or drinking on their own. Perhaps an individual has come to terms with the fact that he has a problem with chemical substance, and has attempted to quit or cut back, finding himself unable. Perhaps he has agreed to attend an outpatient treatment program, and after several weeks of daily group therapy sessions, finds he is still drinking to excess as soon as he returns home. Inpatient addiction treatment offers 24-hour care. In some cases, being entirely removed from a home environment is essential, and being given the opportunity to focus exclusively on recovery is what is needed.

Sometimes, underlying issues are too significant to be remedied in once-a-week therapy sessions. In inpatient treatment, a highly qualified and experienced group of therapists, psychologists, and counselors will conduct a thorough evaluation on each individual patient, developing a personalized and unique treatment plan based on his or her specific needs and preferences. This treatment plan will pay careful attention to the dual diagnoses of the patient, such as depression, an eating disorder, or unresolved trauma. While most treatment plans consist of some variation of intensive therapy and 12-step immersion, specific therapies may be utilized to address specific issues, depending on personal history, interests, and personality.

Quality Inpatient Treatment

When an individual undergoes inpatient treatment, it is important that he or she stays for the entire duration of the program. Ideally, this would mean that the patient would remain in treatment for 90 days or longer. It has been repeatedly proven that it takes a solid three months to begin reversing detrimental behavioral patterns. The National Institute of Drug Abuse issued the following statement in 1999: “The time depends on an individual’s needs. For most patients, the threshold of significant improvement is reached at about 3 months in treatment. Additional treatment can produce further progress. Programs should include strategies to prevent patients from leaving treatment prematurely.”

Yes, 90-day treatment is professionally considered the ‘gold standard’. The 28-day model of inpatient addiction treatment was originally designed by insurance companies, and it is not based on any research regarding effective levels of care. This ‘traditional’ model is often (almost always) not nearly enough, and the vast majority of individuals who undergo a 28 or 30-day program will wind up relapsing within several months after completing the program. Those who undergo a 28 or 30-day treatment program are exceedingly more likely to return to another 28 or 30-day treatment program within a matter of weeks – and here is the crux of the problem.

Addiction Treatment – One and Done

Inpatient treatment, if successful, will be a one-time experience – and it is meant to be a one-time experience. This is the goal. Ideally, an individual will work through all of his deep-seated emotional issues while in rehab, and be guided in the direction of continued therapy with a licensed therapist as well as continuous involvement in a 12-step program. Depending on the specific requirements of this individual, he will also be directed to a psychiatrist, or any other professional that he may need the ongoing assistance of. He will have access to an alumni program, or another form of continuous support (such as MAP Recovery Support, which is explained in more detail here). Essentially, it is the job of the treatment center to do everything in its power to ensure that the individual has a legitimate shot at maintaining long-term sobriety.

Unfortunately, this is often not the case.

Addiction treatment has become quite a lucrative industry – an industry initially founded on good intentions. Over the course of the past decade or so, the addiction treatment industry has rapidly and predominantly transformed to one of avarice, indifference, and sheer profit motive. Attending treatment five or eight or fifteen or twenty-six times in one year has become the norm. Young adults with advantageous insurance plans are being admitted to innumerable 30-day facilities, where they are offered superficial group therapy courses on relapse prevention, the disease model of addiction, and essential life skills. Core issues may be addressed in passing, but intensive therapeutic work is seldom being offered – and as a result, underlying issues persist. And so long as they do, maintaining fulfilled, long-term recovery will be exceedingly difficult. In order for solid and lasting sobriety to be achieved, an individual must heal from the inside out. There is a formula to comprehensive healing, and it is no mystery.

  1. Medical detox – whenever necessary. Physical stabilization is essential to success in inpatient treatment.
  2. Attend a reputable, legitimate, therapeutically-driven inpatient treatment program for 90 days or longer. Work through all underlying, core issues with experienced, compassionate psychologists, therapists, and counselors. Do not leave prematurely.
  3. Aftercare – ongoing support, 12-step immersion, continuous therapy, sober living.

The process of attending addiction rehab, relapsing upon release, and being readmitted should not consume between two and five years of your life. Young adults are being conditioned to believe that attending program after program – being readmitted to the same 30-day program they graduated from several days before relapsing – is not only normal, but beneficial. “I have to go back to treatment,” has become a commonly used phrase amongst many. “I relapsed again, I need to get into a detox.” “I’m going back to rehab tomorrow, and this time I’m going to take it seriously.” “Back to treatment.” “Back to treatment.”

“My friend can get you in if you have insurance.”

The Revolving Door of The Treatment Industry

And it is a vicious cycle and it will continue to be a vicious cycle, until we start to recognize that adequate treatment is in short supply – and that in order to truly recover, we must seek out comprehensive, thorough, and highly individualized care. Care that involves intensive trauma work, high levels of family involvement, and an unwavering devotion to keeping the best interest of the patient at heart. Good treatment does exist; it is out there. Yet even the best programs in the country do not boast exceedingly high success rates, because the truth of the matter is is that addiction is an insidious disease; if willingness, open-mindedness, and honesty are not fully intact, success will be limited. The drive to recover must come from within, first and foremost. And of course, as they say, an individual who truly wants to get sober can do so in any setting and circumstance. Prison, a flop house, your parents’ guest room. But listen – good treatment helps. Delving deep into fundamental relational traumas and deeply-rooted, causal issues helps. Immensely. Some wreckage (deep and devastating) cannot be readily removed by a thorough 4th step. Outside help is sometimes required. In fact, it often is. Almost always.

Addiction treatment is meant to be attended once. One time. The revolving door will keep on revolving, and as it does, a greater number of lives will be lost. If you look back on the past several years of your life and notice that your recent history is marked by near constant relapse and readmission, do yourself a favor – seek adequate treatment. Look into attending a quality, long-term program. 90 days may seem like quite a bit of time, but it is far less time than the years you are liable to squander continuously re-entering short term programs.

Step out of the vicious cycle and into a life of joy, freedom, and fulfillment.