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One of the most frequently asked questions when embarking on a drug treatment programs is: “How long do I have to stay in treatment?” Concerned about their ability to afford a lengthy stay in drug rehab and the needs of people who are left on their own at home mean that most people are hoping to hear that a 30-day stay is more than plenty.
This is not, however, the case. A new study published in the journal Open Journal of Psychiatry found that the longer an individual stays actively involved in an intensive treatment program, the more likely it is that they will still be living a sober life one year later. That is, at a one-year follow-up point, 55 percent of people who had undergone a 30-day rehabilitation program were still sober as compared to 84 percent of those who stayed in treatment longer.
Should you extend your stay in drug rehab or stick to the 30-day program?
For many, the primary issue is payment. In most cases, health insurance companies will only cover 30 days of residential treatment and that’s when they do not first require the patient undergo outpatient treatment. This means that families are left holding the bag when it comes to financing the rest of their stay, putting them in the position of determining how much they are able to sacrifice to get effective care for their loved one and if it is even possible to find the money under any circumstances.
People living in addiction without family support and no insurance must face managing the whole bill on their own, and they are often only eligible for care that is covered by government funding. This means that many choose how long they will stay in rehab based on their wallet rather than by finding the best possible treatment program for their needs and staying as long as necessary.
The problem with choosing any medical care based on price alone is that it does not take into consideration whether or not the program will be effective. All drug rehabs are not created equal. The caliber of staff members as well as the range of services offered and the ratio of clients to staff all play a part in determining how the client will respond long-term.
A free program with bare-bones treatment options provided by undereducated (and underpaid) staff members that applies a “one-size-treats-all” philosophy to treatment plans in an overcrowded setting is less likely to be effective than a program that offers individualized treatment plans that offer a range of therapeutic options provided by well-educated staff with a low client-to-staff ratio. The more intensive and unique the program, the more likely it is that it will provide the firm foundation necessary to launch into a successful life in recovery.
Dr. Akikur Mohammad of the University of Southern California was the leader of the study. He said: “Aftercare is crucial once an individual has completed drug or alcohol treatment and is in recovery. There is a continuity of care that should be followed once initial treatment is completed.”
No matter how long the program, the chances that a person will live a long life without relapse after transitioning into independent living in recovery increase exponentially when that person remains actively engaged in recovery after treatment. This means:
The more actively engaged someone is with recovery, the more likely it is that they will make use of the positive coping mechanisms learned in treatment when they are out on their own.
Treatment should be highly individualized, which means that the treatment program that is right for you should be uniquely designed based on your experience in addiction, your current level of addiction, your drugs of choice, your home situation, and your goals for recovery and beyond. The more that your personal needs and experience are used to determine the course of care, the more likely it will be to provide you with a strong foundation in recovery – and the longer you stay, the better.