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Is Long-Term Drug and Alcohol Treatment the Best Option for You?


Is long-term drug and alcohol treatment the best option for you? We think so.

After all, you’ve decided to get help for your addiction or alcoholism, and you’re feeling the flutter of something you haven’t in a long time: hope.

The future, it seems, is a wide-open possibility. After shrouded for so long in a fog of drugs and alcohol, you may have questioned, before seeking help, whether you would even have a future. Perhaps you had come to accept the drudgery of an existence that was little more than getting, using or drinking, and finding ways and means to do more.

Now, you have an opportunity to arrest your disease. You can receive necessary tools to keep it at bay. You’ll be introduced to a sober community of like-minded peers who will accompany you on this journey. The biggest question you need to ask yourself at this point is: How deep does your commitment to this transformation go?

In other words, is long-term drug and alcohol treatment the best course of action? All signs point to yes, as the Magic 8-Ball, that favorite childhood toy, might say.

What is Long-Term Treatment?

is long-term drug and alcohol treatment the best option for youAccording to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) [1], “Long-term residential treatment provides care 24 hours a day, generally in non-hospital settings. The best-known residential treatment model is the therapeutic community (TC), with planned lengths of stay of between 6 and 12 months.” At Cornerstone of Recovery, long-term treatment is almost indistinguishable from other lengths of stay, at least in the beginning.

Upon arrival and admission, you’ll be escorted to Medical Detox, where a safe, medically supervised regimen of medication and rest will help rid your system of drugs and alcohol. After a typical three- to five-day detox stay, you’ll transition into one of our four inpatient programs for the first phase of your treatment journey. As NIDA points out, the goal of treatment is the “resocialization” of the individual, and to do that, we “use the program’s entire community — including other residents, staff, and the social context — as active components of treatment. Addiction is viewed in the context of an individual’s social and psychological deficits, and treatment focuses on developing personal accountability and responsibility as well as socially productive lives.”

Whether you choose a long-term treatment option at the outset, however, may dictate what your individual treatment plan entails. For those who choose short-term treatment, residential inpatient can be a whirlwind of information and counseling. If we know up front that we only have a few weeks in which to treat you, then we’ll work diligently to pack as much therapy and education into those weeks as possible. A long-term treatment commitment, however, will give us, and you, more time to develop a plan of action that will carry through your 90-day stay or longer.

What Happens After Inpatient?

Part of long-term treatment planning involves a premeditated decision to transition into Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP), combined with residency in our Support Living facilities (SLF). After 28 days in inpatient, that may seem like overkill, but there’s a powerful mantra in one of the 12 Step recovery programs that reminds us “we didn’t become addicted overnight, so remember: easy does it.”

Think of IOP/SLF as another layer of the safety net that’s cushioning your descent back into the “real world.” According to NIDA [2], “recovery from drug addiction is a long-term process and frequently requires multiple episodes of treatment,” and “research indicates that most addicted individuals need at least 3 months in treatment to significantly reduce or stop their drug use and that the best outcomes occur with longer durations of treatment.”

How does IOP combined with SLF help? For starters, patients remain a part of the therapeutic community. Given how fragile early sobriety can be, individuals who remain plugged in to a treatment environment while slowly working toward reintegration back into life outside of rehab have a better chance of staying clean and sober. IOP involves three hours a day, four days a week, but there are opportunities for volunteer work on campus, and patients are encouraged to find employment locally. Most importantly, they can rely on the safety and security of living, learning and recovering alongside a group of peers, all of which broadens the base of their recovery.

Does Long-Term Treatment Really Help?

is long-term drug and alcohol treatment the best option for you?Absolutely. An examination of three different studies of recovering women, published in 2004 in the Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse [3], found that “despite differences in treatment programs, client profiles, follow-up intervals, data collection methods, and other factors, all three studies found high treatment success rates — ranging narrowly from 68% to 71% abstinent — among women who spent six months or more in treatment. Success rates were lower, and between-study differences were larger, for clients with shorter stays in treatment.”

Most importantly, long-term treatment helps patients establish healthy recovery habits. From the beginning, treatment at Cornerstone of Recovery includes education about the benefits of committing to outside recovery programs. Whether religiously affiliated or aligned with the 12 Steps, these support groups, which meet regularly in communities around the world, provide patients with a “tribe” of fellow recovering addicts and alcoholics. Long-term treatment helps establish regular routines of attendance, so that when the time comes after the standard 90 days of treatment — 30 days of residential inpatient, 60 days of IOP, although some episodes of care can last even longer — clients who leave Cornerstone have a support network in place.

A 2007 article in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs [4] puts it succinctly: “Findings from studies using follow-up periods of up to 2 years indicate that participation in formal treatment … and longer time in treatment … are consistently associated with better outcomes.” In addition, “post-treatment 12-step affiliation is also is a critical ingredient in the recovery process, increasing the likelihood that gains made during treatment are reinforced and sustained.”

In other words, scientific findings back up the anecdotal evidence collected throughout our 30 years of treating addicts and alcoholics here at Cornerstone. Long-term addiction and alcoholism treatment may not be the right fit for everyone, but it can indeed help everyone who chooses to take advantage of it.






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