Doctor examining his patients blood pressure in medical officeWatching a loved one suffer from addiction is heartbreaking, and it often leaves family members feeling powerless, but when the individual is finally ready to seek help, it can be an immense relief
 
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), treatment for addiction requires continuous evaluation and modification, and it is similar to the approach that healthcare professionals take to treat other diseases. In fact, NIDA reports that relapse rates for addiction are similar to those for other chronic diseases, like hypertension, asthma, and diabetes, and relapsing does not mean treatment was a failure. When it comes to hypertension, 50-70 percent of people relapse, whereas 40-60 percent of people relapse from drug addiction.

No single program is effective for everyone, which is why it is so important to do adequate research when seeking addiction treatment for a loved one. There are various options available for helping individuals both get and stay sober, and each has its pros and cons. Many people employ multiple approaches throughout the course of their recovery. For example, residential treatment and outpatient services are two of the more popular ways to combat addiction, and many people start with residential treatment before moving on to outpatient services.

Why Choose Residential Treatment?

A residential treatment program can be beneficial for those who need a significant amount of structure and support while overcoming an addiction. Residential treatment provides more care than traditional outpatient programs, and it can be an effective first step to staying sober. There are various types of residential programs, and they typically last for 30-90 days. Some benefits of a residential treatment program are:

  • Structure: Though most residential programs grant clients at least a little free time throughout the day, they rely heavily on daily schedules that incorporate therapy sessions, group meetings, and recreational activities. Many people suffering from addiction lacked structure in their life before attending treatment, and residential treatment provides this structure, filling up the free time that people used to spend using substances.
  • Comfort: Residential treatments are not sterile, unwelcoming places, which is what many people feel hospitals and even doctors offices’ are. Because clients live at the facility where they are attending treatment, staff goes out of their way to make it warm, inviting, and comfortable.
  • No substances: One of the greatest benefits of residential treatment is the lack of access to drugs or alcohol. If a loved one has tried to quit in the past but struggled because there were still substances available, resident treatment can provide the environment necessary to avoid substances. There is no access to substances of abuse, so there is no possibility for relapse while in treatment.
  • Access to healthcare 24/7: Withdrawal symptoms vary depending on the extent of a client’s addiction, but most people experience some symptoms when they stop using. Certain substances can have life-threatening complications if someone stops using them rapidly, but in the medical detox portion of a residential treatment program, clients have access to healthcare professionals 24/7. Supervising doctors, nurses, and technicians know how to handle even the most severe symptoms that withdrawal can bring, mitigating discomfort and ensuring safety throughout the process. According to NIDA, medical detox gives healthcare professionals the chance to manage acute physiological side effects for clients before moving on to tackling the psychological side effects of addiction.
  • Support: Most forms of addiction treatment rely on providing clients with extensive support, but residential treatment is the only kind of care that provides that support on a continual basis. Clients will have access to qualified healthcare professionals, as well as to other individuals who are going through the same experiences they are. In addition, many residential treatment facilities also allow visitors at some point during the program, which means family and friends can support their loved ones during treatment too.

A con of residential treatment for some clients is the cost; however, there are affordable financing options that make it possible for families to get their loves ones the treatment they need. It is important to keep in mind that treatment will also eventually pay for itself over time, because the individual is no longer spending money on substances. There are societal impacts to getting sober as well. According to NIDA, every dollar invested in an addiction treatment program yields a return of $4-7 in reduced theft, criminal justice costs, and drug-related crimes.

When Does Outpatient Treatment Make More Sense?

Another valid option for treating addiction is outpatient care. Many people attend an inpatient program before switching to an outpatient one, but those with less severe addictions, or with life obligations they can’t put aside to pursue inpatient care, may simply enroll in outpatient services from the start. The pros of attending an outpatient program are similar to some of the pros of attending residential treatment and include:

  • Structure: Though they do not provide nearly as much structure as residential programs, outpatient services still give clients a significant amount of stability during recovery. Intensive outpatient programs require a serious time commitment on the part of the client and typically meet at least three days a week for at least four hours at a time.
  • Freedom: Some clients do not need care around the clock, and for these people, the freedom that an outpatient program provides can be beneficial. Individuals with extensive obligations, like work or raising a family, may prefer to attend outpatient treatment because the stress they would feel from missing these obligations during residential treatment would hinder their recovery.
  • Privacy: Clients who attend a residential treatment program that lasts 30 days or more need to find a way to explain their absence to friends, family, and coworkers. Not everyone is comfortable discussing their addiction with acquaintances. Attending an outpatient treatment program means clients do not have to explain any extended absences.
  • Support and family involvement: Because clients return home every evening while attending outpatient treatment, there is often more family involvement than in residential treatment. Though clients do not have as much support from professionals as they might in residential treatment, they can still develop a strong support structure during outpatient therapy. According to a report published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), group counseling and therapy are core components of outpatient treatment.

Finding a Treatment Center

Once a loved one has committed to attending a treatment program, family members can help to find the right one. It may take a bit of research to find a preferred program that has space available. According to SAMHSA, many residential treatment programs regularly operate at 82-96 percent capacity. Family members can help by presenting the individual with the various options and offering to take care of certain obligations, like childcare, during the treatment period.

NIDA reminds readers that quitting any substance starts with a detox period, during which individuals often experience withdrawal symptoms. Depending on the particular substance and the extent of the addiction, symptoms can be incredibly uncomfortable and even have lift-threatening consequences. Medical detox is always required for certain substances of abuse, such as alcohol, opiates, and benzodiazepines. In some instances, detox may be done on an outpatient basis; however, an initial medical assessment is needed to determine the best course of action.

When selecting a residential treatment facility, there are a few factors to consider. For example, some people prefer local facilities, where their family and friends can check up on them during visiting hours regularly, whereas others need to get away for a while so they can focus solely on their recovery. In that case, an out-of-state facility is typically best.

Individuals should also consider the quality of the staff working at the facility. Do they have any accreditations or licensures? What are their credentials? Since so many treatment centers operate at near full capacity, do they have enough staff to do so? These are just a few of the questions to ask before selecting a residential treatment program.

The cost of the prospective residential program should also be considered. Residential care is generally more expensive than outpatient treatment due to the costs of room and board. Insurance may cover at least some of the cost of treatment, so it’s important to check with the particular facility and the insurance provider prior to enrollment. Be clear on all out-of-pocket costs so there are no surprises down the road. Many addiction treatment facilities also offer payment plans to offset the initial financial burden of treatment.