For those people who have never been to a residential drug treatment facility, what might a potential patient expect to find? If a person has never been, it’s easy to build up misconceptions about what does occur during rehab. The first surprising thing might be that the patient is free to leave the program at any time. Even if the criminal justice system has placed an individual there, it’s possible to walk out; admittedly, there are consequences for these actions later, but it’s still possible to go.

Why no locks on the door? Why do patients experience such freedom? Because rehabilitation and treatment programs are not effective if the patient isn’t willing to be there. If a client arrives knowing that he or she is going to drink again or use drugs again, then the treatment generally won’t work. However, if the patient arrives at the center with stopping the addiction in mind, he or she will find a helpful and supportive environment.

The first step in drug treatment is detoxification or detox. While some residential drug treatment centers have an in-house detox program, an individual will find that some rehab centers want their clients to finish detox before arrival. Patients need to be clean and sober before they even walk through the doors. Whether the clients are in a place that has an in-house program or in a facility that specializes in drug and alcohol withdrawal symptoms, they’ll find that this is a five to seven day in-patient process.

Residential drug treatment centers number in the thousands in the U.S., and they can be quite different from one another. They can range everywhere from nearly camp-like settings (provided in some cases for troubled teens) to Malibu luxury, although most fall somewhere in-between these extremes. The treatment can be expensive; in some cases, it’s a matter of what the insurance or the individual can afford. The physical surroundings, though, do not matter when it comes to being successful in the sobriety of the patient.

Residential drug treatment has existed for over forty years and differs from other methods in important ways. Through a resident treatment program, the individual can leave the toxic environment in which they’ve lived and enter an atmosphere of sobriety. At home, the individual would be reminded daily of the places in which they kept alcohol or drank, where they did drugs, and so on. In a residential setting, they have a community of counselors that usually consists of those who have confronted and overcome the same problem, but also a group of peers who have the same goal of recovery, people who can act as a support system 24 hours a day.

In a residence, then, a patient can have the ability to talk to peers and staff at any hour, an invaluable resource. It allows the individual to live in a drug-free environment, where he or she can be safe from the temptation of the drugs. Studies have shown that those individuals who have successfully completed residential treatments had lower levels of criminal behavior, unemployment, lower levels of alcohol, cocaine and heroin use, and lower levels of depression than before they entered treatment.


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