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Addiction treatment is highly personal, so what works for one person may not work for another. For this reason, choosing the right recovery program is a critical step for early recovery. Seek help to understand whether a loved one needs hospital-based treatment or residential care.
Key Differences to Treatment Approaches
Getting sober is difficult, overwhelming and disorienting. For many, detox—the process by which the body eliminates chemicals—is especially grueling. All professional addiction treatment begins with this step, which, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, aims to minimize withdrawal symptoms and to safeguard health, all under the careful oversight of medical practitioners.
On the other hand, the most intensive level of service is offered through hospital-based centers. Best suited for people who struggle with acute physical or psychiatric problems or advanced addictions, these treatment types often start their care with a 48-hour observation period. During this time, the following services are delivered:
- Intensive assessment and treatment of withdrawal symptoms
- Continuous evaluation for up to 48 hours
- Determinations made at 24 and 48 hour intervals to assess changes to care
To qualify for this level of care, candidates for acute hospital-based detox must meet the following criteria:
- Have documented proof of a principal diagnosis that reflects psychoactive substance use disorder
- Voluntarily accept detox services
- Failure to meet criteria for medically-managed detox help or outpatient treatment
- Pose risk of seizures, hallucinations, delirium tremens and severe psychiatric disorders
- Present evidence of acute intoxication or withdrawal symptoms in the absence of other changes in mental status
Patients typically exhibit the following symptoms before entering hospital-based treatment:
- Prior history of delirium tremens
- Blood pressure exceeding 160/100
- Pulse exceeding 100 beats per minute
- Prior history of withdrawal seizures
- Temperature exceeding 100.9 F
Treatment at hospital-based centers is short, typically lasting between five and seven days to stabilize the patient’s physical health. Criteria required for a patient’s discharge include the following information:
- Completion of prescribed treatment
- Control and stability that demonstrates one’s capacity to thrive in less restrictive treatment
- Discontinuation of all medications used for detox, except those used in continued management
Although detox is essential, medical experts do not consider it a stand-alone treatment. In other words, getting through withdrawal symptoms is simply not enough to break the addiction cycle. For this reason, patients who leave hospital-based programs almost always need further professional help.
Inpatient vs. Outpatient Treatment
People with severe and/or long-term substance abuse problems have the maximum opportunity to recover through inpatient rehab. According to a 2009 National Institutes of Health study, this kind of treatment will ideally last for 90 days, the length of time professionals say will produce the most positive outcomes. Research findings reveal that lengthy treatment stays yield the following benefits:
- Brain recalibration – It takes a minimum of 90 days for the brain to heal enough to begin thinking clearly, which means people will need that long until therapy restores their ability to retain new information
- More post-detox treatment – People who withdraw physically for several weeks often need extra time to address psychological and emotional issues
- Opportunity to establish new habits – It takes time to learn to use recovery tools, such as attending support group meetings, talking with a sponsor or therapist and building sober friendships, but such ventures pay off through stable recoveries once rehab ends
- Reentry can be jarring – If attempted too soon, returning to society as a recovering addict can be overwhelming and trigger relapse
People in early stages of addiction may opt to attend outpatient programs. This setting provides counseling, education and family therapy while still allowing patients to live at home. This is a viable option for people maintaining work and family responsibilities, and these programs typically last from 60 to 90 days. However, in spite of their differences, both inpatient and outpatient treatment typically include the following components:
- Counseling to identify emotional and mental roots of addiction
- Ongoing therapy to boost coping skills
- Relapse prevention training
- Family therapy
- Introduction to 12-step support groups
- Spiritual guidance
Many people fail to stay sober when they become stuck in ruts during recovery. In contrast, people who stay active through community service, expansive spirituality and rich, sober friendships often achieve lasting abstinence. According to a study by the American Psychological Association, the trick to recovery is to develop and draw on a wide range of strategies. Keeping recovery fresh and dynamic is the key to avoiding relapse after treatment ends.
Recovery from Addiction
If you or someone you love struggles with addiction, then know that you are not alone. Admissions coordinators at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline can guide you to wellness. Please call now to start your recovery today.