Proven benefits of residential addiction recovery

A case for the benefits of intensive residential rehab.

minute read
By Ronald D. Jensen, MSW

If you’re working in rehab: What should you know?

My business partner recently posed this question to me in an email, for careful thought of addiction as relating to our staff: What should you know if you are working in residential addiction recovery?

I gave this question some deep thought for a few days. I also did the usual Google search, as we have become accustomed to in this era. In the end, I used the search words, “trends” and “best practices” in addiction treatment. What I really wanted to know is where the industry is currently going, and what buzzwords we should pay attention to. Because I help operate a residential addiction recovery facility, the research around this topic from my search caught my attention immediately.

Intensive residential treatment leads to successful outcomes

Research shows that people who complete addiction recovery treatment in settings such as intensive residential treatment programs are much more fit to be successful at a permanent change because they learn to live in a drug-free atmosphere and can practice lifestyle changes in a safe, yet challenging environment. Additionally, if the program uses comprehensive and varied proven therapy methods, the recovering person can be very successful in developing sound relapse prevention plans and continue to build their awareness for a long-term recovery.

Lifestyle changes are essential

“Lifestyle change” was the next phrase that captured my attention. Treatment programs have to be the foundation of profound lifestyle changes that a former addict must make in order to live substance abuse free.

A person in recovery has to find new ways of coping with stress without using substances. This can involve very taxing yet necessary steps such as changing careers, ending toxic relationships and healing supportive ones, finishing a degree, and taking up anxiety relieving activities such as:

  • Sports
  • Arts
  • Meditation
  • Simple horticulture and
  • Other pursuits

Well-trained counselors, case managers, therapists, and other personnel can guide the recovering person through these major life changes to a lasting change. An intensive residential setting that provides well-trained, genuine personnel in a team setting that the recovering person needs for well-planned lifestyle change.

Dual Diagnoses need to be treated at the same time

The phrase “dual diagnoses” has been around for several years. To say that someone is struggle with “dual diagnoses” would mean that an individual may have some sort of a mood disorder such as depression or bipolar disorder as well as a problem with alcohol or drugs. An individual with dual diagnoses has two completely separate illnesses happening and needs to treat both simultaneously.

Many people who become dependent on drugs have underlying psychological problems, which are usually not diagnosed until they enter drug treatment programs. My experience and writings on emerging beliefs in treatment, say this:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Trauma related issues

…and many other psychological difficulties can and must be treated concurrently with drug dependency.

A holistic approach requires focus

At a residential rehab facility, patients can receive more complex, more intense, and more multidimensional treatment than, say, a weekly psychotherapy gathering tacked on to a medication maintenance clinic. This holistic approach to substance abuse treatment provides the necessary framework for building an effective multidimensional treatment.

What is holistic health? A holistic approach to addiction recovery includes all aspects of the mind, body and spirit. It can be as simple as getting outside and finding a spot in nature that feeds all three.

A crucial aspect when providing holistic treatment is addressing and incorporating interpersonal relationships. Each respective relationship, whether with staff, peers, or loved ones plays a key role when addressing the various aspects of treatment. These relationships allow for the building of support networks and model what healthy relationships look like and how they function.

Residential settings provide the framework for recovery

Residential treatment, therefore, can provide a safe yet challenging environment. This environment provides a variety of therapies, activities, and interventions that allow for an exploration and application of lifestyle changes. When lifestyle changes, and a safe environment are coupled with treating dual diagnosis of underlying psychological issues, residents are provided with a framework for ongoing recovery. Successful residential treatment relies heavily on the establishment of healthy interpersonal relationships as a means of achieving necessary support for the duration of treatment, as well as enduring support upon completion of the residential program.

About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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