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Are Short-term Drug and Alcohol Rehab Programs Effective?

by | Last updated Oct 16, 2020 at 12:09PM | Published on Oct 16, 2020 | Rehab Programs

Short-term Rehab Programs

Short-term drug and alcohol rehab programs are popular settings, mostly promoted by insurance companies, to seek addiction treatment. These short-term programs are usually more affordable and promise to yield great results. However, there are confronting views about such programs’ effectiveness, as most research favors long-term rehabilitation programs.

What Are Short-term Drug and Alcohol Rehab Programs?

Most short-term drug and alcohol rehab programs are based on a modified 12-step program. Initially, these programs were a 3- to 6-week hospital-based inpatient rehab program, followed up with participation in a self-help group like AA or NA.

However, today, some addiction treatment centers offer short-term rehab programs that are just 28-days. These treatments are provided to people who have already relapsed after being sober for some time. These 28-30 day programs focus on relapse prevention techniques and intense therapy sessions. Unfortunately, these treatment options are not suited for everyone, and there’s little research that proves their efficacy.

What to Expect from Short-term Rehab Programs 

Different addiction treatment centers will offer various forms of therapy. But, most short-term rehab programs rely on a 12-step approach. Because of this, you can expect a peer-based support program that focuses on accountability, inspiration, and structure. 

These programs will also incorporate individual and group counseling, tap into cognitive-behavioral therapy and use family therapy to help people make progress in their recovery. 

Unfortunately, the problem with short-term rehab programs is that patients don’t have enough time to grasp these therapies’ benefits, let alone initiate change or redirect their behaviors. This is particularly true for those who undergo detox since most substances’ withdrawal phase is about two weeks or more. 

Benefits of Short-term Treatment

One of the most significant barriers to seeking treatment is finances. The National Comorbidity Survey-Replication, a nationally representative survey of more than 9,000 people in the United States, asked why people with mental health and substance abuse disorders did not seek treatment. About 15% of the respondents cited financial barriers as the reason they didn’t seek treatment. 

Short-term rehab programs offer a low-cost option for those in need. Besides, the majority of insurance policies will cover the length of short-term treatments. Almost 17% of those surveyed said they left treatment early due to treatment costs and their insurance not paying for further treatment.

Another benefit of short-term treatments is comfort. Unfortunately, not everyone can place their lives on hold to attend therapy. The reality is that even if we all wish we could do this, it’s not always possible. This issue is particularly common among females with children who can’t leave their homes for so long.

It’s easier for students to take a semester off from school, but it might be impossible for those in the workforce. Short-term rehab programs might be more realistic to those with these types of conflicts.

Are Short-term Rehab Programs Effective?

It can be increasingly challenging to find a high-quality treatment center offering short-term programs. Most of the time, a short-term program will end before a patient even feels ready to start changing.

They won’t have the right mechanisms to cope with triggers, process stressing events healthily, or find ways to walk away from a potential relapse trigger. It’s likely for them to go back to substance abuse after leaving a short-term treatment. This is why you often hear people complaining that rehab doesn’t work. 

Research indicates that most addicted individuals need at least 3 months in treatment to reduce or stop their drug use significantly and that the best outcomes occur with longer durations of treatment. 

Recovery for drug and alcohol addiction is a long-term process, one that you can’t merely put a band-aid over and make it go away. Most accredited treatment centers will offer 90-day programs. Others even go as far as 180-days programs. In fact, the best-known residential treatment model is the therapeutic community (TC), with planned lengths of stay of between 6 and 12 months.

For example, of those choosing 90-day rehab programs, only 17% of people reported relapsing in the following year. That’s in comparison with 37% of those in treatment programs for fewer days.

When Are Short-term Treatments Helpful

Of course, this isn’t to say that short-term rehab programs are a waste of time. Any form of treatment is a step in the right direction. Short-term programs are best used as continued care or aftercare once someone completes a long-term rehab treatment. Because recovery is long-term, treatment may continue at different levels for some time, depending on the varying levels of sobriety, health, and recovery strength.

For example, short-term programs can be incorporated into sober living to provide help and support on those early recovery days. An intensive outpatient program (IOP) can also be considered a short-term program that can expand what you’ve been learning in a residential treatment center setting. Furthermore, outpatient treatment is another excellent choice to try short-term. Other examples could be support groups and attending group therapy sessions after leaving rehab.

Aftercare and continued support are vital for relapse prevention. The longer someone can continue some kind of treatment protocol, the better chances they have of a successful long-term recovery.

How to Find the Right Rehab Center for Me?

Many factors play a role in looking for a short-term rehab center, including insurance, cost, rehab programs offered, length of programs, location, severity and type of addiction, any co-occurring disorders, and much more.

It’s essential to speak with an addiction specialist who can guide you through the different options available. Addiction is a complex and unique disease, and no two addiction cases are the same. One of the principles of effective treatment states that no single treatment is appropriate for everyone. Matching treatment settings, interventions, and services to an individual’s particular problems and needs is critical to their success.

At the same time, treatment attends more than just drug or alcohol abuse. Many struggling with substance use disorders struggle with co-occurring mental health conditions that must be addressed simultaneously to guarantee effective treatment. Finally, an individual’s treatment and services plan need to be modified as necessary to ensure that it continues to meet their needs.

There’s no right or wrong way to choose an addiction treatment facility. However, you must do your due diligence to find a place that fits your needs, beliefs, and expectations.

Getting Help

With so many alternatives for substance abuse treatment, it can be overwhelming. The most important thing is that you know seeking treatment should always be your north star. Substance use disorders can destroy your family and relationships, not to mention, they can lead you to a path of destruction that can be life-threatening. Don’t let drugs or alcohol win the battle. 

At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, our intensive outpatient programs are popular among those seeking drug addiction treatment. However, we don’t believe in cookie-cutter treatment plans for our patients. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, contact us today to learn about our different treatment programs.

After a therapist evaluation, our clinic therapists recommend the best treatment plan that might incorporate a drug and alcohol rehab, partial hospitalization, inpatient treatment, follow up with an outpatient program, and even suggest aftercare recovery solutions. We believe in doing whatever it takes to help you and your loved ones move past addiction and enjoy a full, healthy, and inspiring life. 

Stop waiting for the right moment and reach out today to learn more about our insurance policies, treatment plans, and more. 

Geraldine Orentas

Geraldine Orentas

Geraldine is Lighthouse Recovery Institute’s Digital Marketing Manager. She has a Bachelor’s in Journalism and experience in the digital media industry. Geraldine’s writing allows her to share valuable information about mental health, wellness, and drug addiction facts, hoping to shed light on the importance of therapy and ending the stigma.
Medical Disclaimer:

Lighthouse Recovery Institute aims to improve the quality of life for anyone struggling with substance use or mental health disorder. We provide fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options, and their outcomes. The material we publish is researched, cited, edited, and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide in our posts is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be used in place of the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider.

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