For many, detox is the first step of the recovery process. It’s during detoxification that people make the initial transition from physical dependence to sobriety, but with the benefit of a team of medical professionals and recovery specialists monitoring them to ensure their safety and alleviate any physical or psychological discomfort.
However, a detox program isn’t necessary for every type of addiction. People addicted to alcohol, benzodiazepines, or opioids like heroin and painkillers will be in need of a medical detox.
A medical detox program takes place in a residential-type rehab, which is a facility that can accommodate clients during a prolonged stay. For most people, the detoxification process takes about a week, but it’s not uncommon to need more or fewer days than that. The length of time a person needs to complete a detox program depends on certain factors such as the length of time he has been chemically dependent and the substance to which he or she is dependent.
Since a person suffering from addiction will experience withdrawal upon cessation of alcohol or drug intake, the goal of a detox program is to help the chemically dependent get through that period of withdrawal to rid their bodies of alcohol, drugs, and any other toxins; however, as withdrawal symptoms are known to be unpleasant, people in medical detox programs will typically be given so-called “comfort medications” to alleviate their physical discomfort.
Some of the medications commonly offered in detox programs include mild benzodiazepines, muscle relaxants, and sedatives that help if a person is having trouble sleeping. By the end of the detox, the individual will be sober and no longer physically dependent on alcohol or drugs.
There’s a common misconception that outpatient care is the opposite of inpatient care with regard to treatment intensive. The only way these two types of treatment are opposites is because inpatient programs require on-site residency during treatment while outpatient programs mean an individual completes a form of treatment while continuing to live at home or in a transitional living facility.
When it comes to the intensity of outpatient care, there’s a large degree of variation. Some outpatient treatments are designed with accessibility and flexibility in mind while others are a major commitment and would be incredibly difficult to complete while negotiating day-to-day responsibilities.
Of the different types of outpatient care that exist, one of the most consistent features is their low cost relative to other forms of treatment. Additionally, due to being viewed as less intensive, outpatient care tends to be more accessible, attracting those who are intimidated by recovery. Outpatient care is best suited to those who are in good physical health, have a safe and stable living environment, and have a strong support network of family and friends.
An addiction treatment program doesn’t necessarily have to be at a maximum level of intensity to be effective. When a person suffering from a substance abuse problem is still in generally good health with stable, supportive living arrangements, he may not require the full intensity of an inpatient rehab or partial hospitalization program, but would still benefit from receiving the essential treatments that form the core of any effective rehabilitation program.
In many cases, this person will likely have exhibited the potential and desire to achieve sobriety but feels uncertain with so much free time that had previously been taken up with substance abuse.
Intensive outpatient programs (IOP) provide a minimum of nine hours of treatment per week, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Due to offering significantly fewer treatment hours than an inpatient program, an intensive outpatient curriculum is typically limited to the essentials such as individual counseling, psychoeducational group therapy, interpersonal process groups, and other types of group treatment.
For most people, an intensive outpatient curriculum is broken down into one three-hour block of treatment three days of the week; however, there’s the potential for up to five days depending on a person’s needs. And despite being less intensive than inpatient and partial hospitalization programs, an intensive outpatient program is still a major commitment. With more flexibility than partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient treatment gives individuals the possibility to continue fulfilling some of their other obligations while in treatment for addiction.
It’s common for a person to need a more intensive treatment regimen, but because of being unable to reside in an inpatient rehab for the duration of treatment, he assumes that recovery isn’t a feasible or realistic option.
However, if a person with a drug problem has a stable, supportive living situation where there’s no risk of relapse, he or she might prefer to continue living at home rather than to enroll at an inpatient rehab. But, if there’s a need for an inpatient-level of care and supervision, such an individual would need something that could offer a comprehensive treatment curriculum in the form of an outpatient program.
Fortunately, a partial hospitalization program (PHP) is an ideal compromise for just such situations.
Partial hospitalization programs are intended for people who are medically stable and, therefore, aren’t in need of detox treatment, but who still need a high level of supervision to help them resist the temptation of alcohol and drugs.
By enrolling in a partial hospitalization program, a person can receive an average workday’s worth of recovery-oriented treatments and then return home. Alternately, a person might choose to participate in partial hospitalization treatment while staying in a transitional living facility, utilizing the partial hospitalization program as a form of continued care and follow-up to an inpatient program.
Typically, a partial hospitalization program will offer many of the same treatments and services that are offered by an inpatient rehab, but with an added layer of flexibility, allowing patients to commute to rehab at least five days per week.
Anyone who’s looking for the most effective form of treatment with round-the-clock care will find inpatient rehab to be the best fit. These types of facilities offer residential accommodations that allow patients to live on-site for periods ranging from several weeks to several months; however, the majority of those enrolling in inpatient treatment will receive between 30 and 90 days of continuous care.
Each inpatient rehab will have its own unique offerings, which typically includes a number of elective treatments from which incoming patients can choose for the purpose of individualizing or customizing the inpatient curricula. Depending on the focus or methods employed at any given inpatient rehab, patients may be able to choose from holistic treatments, luxury services like massage therapy, or even a number of demographic-specific options, which might include faith-based treatment or group sessions for women.
While there’s much potential for personalization, there are a number of treatment essentials offered in most if not all inpatient rehabs. In particular, there’s near-universal emphasis on individual counseling and its modalities in addition to group therapy with sessions consisting of groups of patients, peers, or one patient and his or her family.
Moreover, there are more focused groups that are often staples of inpatient treatment, including life skills training, relapse prevention, and even nutrition or hygiene sessions when necessary. Inpatient rehab is optimal for those who feel uncertain about their ability to remain sober without a safe, supervised, alcohol- and drug-free environment.
What’s more, inpatient rehab is effective not just because it is a temptation-free atmosphere, but because patients receive much more treatment than they’d get in other programs and because inpatient rehab removes people struggling with substance abuse from the places, circumstances, and individuals that may have contributed to their becoming addicted.