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What Are the Different Types of Residential Treatment Programs?

What Is a Residential/Inpatient Treatment Program?

Residential treatment programs provide live-in treatment for addiction and mental health disorders.

These treatment programs are also sometimes referred to as inpatient treatment programs. There are numerous residential treatment programs that specialize in specific issues, including:

  • Drug or alcohol abuse.
  • Eating disorders.
  • Gambling addiction.
  • Other mental health disorders.

Some residential programs will treat more than one issue at a time. For example, at Laguna Treatment Hospital, we accept individuals suffering from substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders, such as depression or PTSD, into our inpatient facility so that they may receive integrated care.

Is Inpatient the Same as Residential?

Inside one of the patient rooms at Laguna Treatment Hospital

Frequently, these terms are used interchangeably, but inpatient treatment generally reflects a higher level of care than residential. Often, someone in an inpatient program will receive more medically intensive treatment and 24/7 medical monitoring.

The goal of inpatient treatment is to stabilize acute symptoms, develop a treatment plan, and ideally get the individual into a long-term residential program. Inpatient treatment is a good choice for individuals who are not yet medically stable enough to be in a less intensive residential environment. Residential treatment often denotes a long-term stay whereas inpatient may be a shorter-term intervention.

Many treatment programs, however, will make no real distinction between a residential and an inpatient program—they will both simply denote the live-in level of care offered at the facility.

Should you or a loved one require intensive medical or psychiatric monitoring, check to make sure that any inpatient program you choose actually has the resources to provide the high level of care needed.

Components of Residential and Long-Term Treatment

Medical assessment

Residential treatment programs may provide a variety of different services, which may include some or all of the following:

  • Withdrawal management (detox). During detox, the patient goes through withdrawal from any and all substances on which they are dependent. Some programs will provide only a sober place to withdraw while others will provide medical detox where doctors and nurses offer care and sometimes medication to keep the patient safe.
  • Medication-assisted treatment. This form of treatment, which combines therapy with medication, can help people get and stay sober. Medications given might include methadone, buprenorphine, acamprosate, or naltrexone, among others.
  • Group therapy. Most residential programs revolve around group therapy and educational group classes where participants learn about drug addiction and share their experiences.
  • Individual therapy. Patients meet one-on-one with a therapist to discuss issues they’re dealing with and learn new ways to cope.
  • 12-Step or other recovery groups. Residential programs will often introduce patients to the 12-Step model and may even offer alternative groups, such as SMART Recovery, for those who are looking for more secular options.

Forms of Residential Treatment

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and other mental health professional organizations, such as the American Psychiatric Association (APA), state that successful treatment interventions should be customized to fit the needs and specific style of the individual. Forms of residential treatment programs include:

  • Short-term residential treatment: Short-term residential treatment programs provide very intensive but brief interventions. Often, these programs last a few weeks to a few months. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, short-term residential treatment programs often rely on a 12-Step approach that is modified for the shorter length of the intervention and then transfer the individual to extended participation in 12-Step groups and outpatient therapy.
  • Long-term residential treatment: Long-term rehab programs are less intensive but longer stays in residential treatment facilities. Comprehensive interventions are delivered in these environments that can include the use of medications and therapy as well as support services aimed at job-training, tutoring, speech therapy, etc. Benefits of long-term residential treatment are many. Firstly, they provide the support of a recovery community. This community will regularly share with and even confront each other about their negative/harmful beliefs, giving everyone a chance to change and grow. Residential treatment also lets patients do intensive work on their recovery in a safe, drug-free living space.
  • Therapeutic communitiesTherapeutic communities are a form of long-term residential treatment where stays tend to range from 6-12 months or longer. These programs typically focus on re-socializing individuals as the major form of intervention and are designed to help clients develop attitudes, self-concepts, and behaviors that are constructive, allowing them to accept responsibility for themselves and lead productive lives. Therapeutic communities have been modified for special populations, including adolescents, women, homeless individuals, and those who have been in prison.

Residential Treatment for Co-occurring Disorders

Doctor and patient

Other types of residential and inpatient programs specialize in providing treatment to individuals who have co-occurring disorders, sometimes called “dual diagnosis.” Typically, these types of programs use an integrated treatment approach that combines treatment providers from different disciplines to work together to assist the individual in their recovery.

For instance, an individual who has an anxiety disorder and a co-occurring substance use disorder could be treated by a team of providers that includes an addiction medicine physician, a psychiatrist who specializes in anxiety disorders, a therapist who specializes in substance use disorder treatment, and more.

Case managers also help to provide a path for the individual in and outside of treatment. For instance, a homeless individual might have a case manager who concentrates on placement for the individual once they are released from the program, or an individual with a co-occurring physical health issue might need physical or occupational therapy. The integrated team develops an overall treatment plan together, treats the individual for specific issues related to their specialty, and communicates with each another through progress notes and scheduled meetings.

Do Residential/Inpatient Programs Use Holistic Treatment?

Holistic treatment takes into account all of the issues the person is dealing with and not one specific diagnosis.

Holistic programs take into account all of an individual’s needs before developing a treatment program and would aim to address the individual’s physical health, psychological health, and social situation.

Holistic treatment programs often add complementary and alternative interventions in their overall program to address all the needs of clients. These may include treatments such as massage and acupuncture. Some programs may also offer complementary therapies such as meditation, mindfulness, and yoga.

Often, programs will try to find a balance between Western approaches and complementary therapies. For example, they may offer medication for anxiety disorders but also provide mindfulness and yoga to help further help patients manage their anxiety and calm their minds and bodies. Complementary therapies are just that—complementary. They are not a replacement for other approaches but may be a great addition to them.

Complementary therapies you may find in residential treatment programs include:

  • Yoga.
  • Meditation.
  • Mindfulness.
  • Guided imagery.
  • Acupuncture.

Additionally, some programs will offer music or art therapy or even animal-assisted therapy.

How to Choose a Residential or Inpatient Center

Woman in therapy

Not all residential programs are created equal. Some may lack the accreditation that lets you know the program has been evaluated by an accrediting body and meets the standards for quality care. Some may not offer the kind of medical treatment necessary for the patient. Some may employ staff without the credentials you would expect.

It’s important to do some work ahead of time to make sure you’re not sending yourself or a loved one to a program that is less than trustworthy. As with any service, there are options that are better than others. With rehab—a program that can be life-changing—you want to make sure you’re choosing the best residential facility.

There is a helpful list of guidelines offered by the Federal Trade Commission for parents seeking residential treatment for adolescents, but this list can be used by anyone attempting to determine the quality of a residential or inpatient rehabilitation program.

What Makes a Good Residential Rehab?

The basic tenets of a good residential treatment program are outlined below.

  • Treatment that meets the patient’s needs. A residential/inpatient drug rehab will be most effective when offers the kinds of treatment the patient needs most.
  • Thorough assessments. Good treatment is based on treating the individual. Rehab staff may get to know a patient’s needs through comprehensive assessment of the person’s physical, cognitive, emotional, and social functioning and then develops a treatment plan based on the findings of the assessment. The treatment plan is continually reviewed, updated, and altered as needed based on the individual’s progress in treatment.
  • Most research studies indicate that the effective approach to treating mental health issues is to use a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Psychotherapy should be available (in group or individual sessions, or both).
  • The right duration. The treatment program should be of sufficient length to address the goals of the treatment plan. Lengthier periods of time where the client maintains their participation in an organized treatment program are associated with greater overall success rates for any type of mental health issue.
  • Treatment for co-occurring disorders. It is extremely common for a substance use disorder to occur alongside another mental health disorder. Certain facilities, such as Laguna Treatment Hospital, are equipped to provide treatment for co-occurring disorders, or dual diagnosis. If you suffer from a dual diagnosis, try searching for a residential program that offers this type of treatment.

FAQs about Inpatient/Residential Rehabilitation

What are the benefits of inpatient/residential treatment?

There are many benefits of going into an inpatient program, such as getting out of a substance-using environment and giving your sole focus to recovery. You’ll also benefit from a whole community that supports you in your efforts and with structured daily schedules to help you regain a sense of responsibility and lessen the sense of chaos that comes with a life in addiction.

What types of therapy are offered?

The therapies offered in a residential facility will depend upon the specific treatment provider. Many facilities will offer therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and/or dialectical behavior therapy. Others may offer specialized therapies for trauma, such as eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) and/or expressive therapies, such as music or art therapy. Always ask prospective programs about what their program includes and how often therapy is offered.

What kind of aftercare and sober livings do they offer?

Different programs will have different levels of aftercare planning and may or may not offer sober living options nearby. Laguna Treatment Hospital knows the importance of aftercare and begins creating a plan for a patient from day one and adjusts it as necessary.

How long is inpatient/residential rehab?

The duration of your treatment will depend on what you’re looking for. And you may spend a brief period of time in inpatient and move to residential treatment once you are more medically stable. Discuss with prospective facilities what the ideal length of treatment is for you.

Does insurance cover rehab?

Insurance coverage very often will pay for at least part of your coverage, depending on your policy. You may need to do some leg work in searching for programs that are in-network with your insurance. You can verify your benefits for free with our quick and easy verification of benefits form.

Why Choose Laguna Treatment Hospital?

Laguna Beach

When you’re looking for residential treatment, Laguna Treatment Hospital is a choice you can feel good about. We are fully accredited with a staff full of credentialed, caring treatment providers. We offer many levels of care from hospital-based medical detoxification to outpatient to take you from the beginning of your journey to a point where you feel you can live at home and continue your efforts on your own. We also treat co-occurring disorders, so you can rest assured your needs will be met when you come for treatment with us. We are so confident in your recovery, we offer a promise to let you come back to treatment with us for free for 30 days if you complete 90 consecutive days with us and relapse within a year.

About The Contributor
Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff, American Addiction Centers
The editorial staff of Laguna Treatment Center is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed... Read More