Drug Treatment – Length of Stay Makes a Difference

It has been proven that drug treatment works. It not only restores the life of the addict, it also restores the family unit. The effects of drug treatment are wide ranging and far encompassing. It has a positive effect on society as a whole, both socially and economically, which cannot be denied.

When discussing drug treatment, there is a direct correlation to time spent in a treatment center and the outcome of their stay. In several studies it has been shown that:

  • The length of time patients stay in treatment is directly related to improvements in follow-up outcome
  • Patients who were more motivated, stayed in the treatment centers longer and developed better relationships with their counselor which helped keep them off the drugs once they left the treatment centers
  • Patients who gave in fully to the process by attending more counseling sessions and discussed a broader range of topics in sessions stayed longer, thereby improving their chances of staying clean
  • In a five year follow-up of cocaine abusers, only one out of every four patients who attended some type of treatment program used again
  • Daily consumption of alcohol decreased from 22% to 8% in people who sought treatment

And these are just the positive outcomes for the addicts themselves. It has also been shown that society as a whole gains the benefits of drug treatment as well.

Scientific research shows that treatment programs are working. Many people, who get some type of treatment, change their destructive behavior, avoid relapse, and successfully stay sober. That being said, it is also true that recovery is a long-term process and it often takes multiple trips to treatment for it to stick. But ultimately, it does.

The fact of the matter when it comes to drugs is that addiction is a treatable brain disorder. It is classified as a chronic condition, and that is why it often takes repeated attempts until abstinence is achieved. Ultimately the goal of treatment is to sustain long lasting sobriety, but there is an immediate need of treatment for the addict as well. The first goal of treatment is to get the addict clean because while the drugs are still in their system there is no hope of getting them to truly understand their need to be there. There is also a safety issue to factor in, both for the addict and the staff caring for them in the treatment facility.

Although it has been proven to work, treatment doesn’t get to everybody who needs it. In 2004, approximately 22.5 million Americans aged 12 or older needed treatment for illicit drugs, but only 3.8 million got it. The implications of these statistics are devastating, and it affects us all.

The costs of drug abuse to our economy are astronomical. In fact, illicit drug abuse is estimated to cost society $181 billion. Successful drug abuse treatment programs can go a long way in reducing that cost. In another estimate of the costs of drug abuse to society, it is shown that for every dollar spent on addiction treatment, there is a $4 to $7 reduction in the cost of drug related crimes. In that same five year study discussed earlier, it was shown that illegal activity declined from 40% to 25% with the success of drug treatment programs.

Clearly the benefits to drug treatment are worthwhile. Drug treatment has come a long way. There are so many options available to people now that there is really no excuse not to go. There are inpatient facilities where patients stay for an extended amount of time, which allows them to go through a cross sectional rehabilitation process. The intensity and time spent in inpatient rehab, allows the staff to concentrate on every aspect of a person with substance use disorders recovery. At inpatient centers patients receive physical attention, emotional attention, spiritual attention and community with other people suffering with their illness. There are also given job training, and in some cases, job placement so as to help enable the addict to reintroduce themselves into society when they get out.

For people who aren’t comfortable with the idea of going away for 6-12 weeks, sometimes even months, there are outpatient programs they can attend. These programs may include daily visits and therapy sessions with doctors, but at night they get to go home and sleep in their beds. In some cases, people just cannot leave their lives for extended periods of time, so the outpatient program allows these people the opportunity to get help as well. With all of the different treatments that are out there, there is always group therapy involved as well.

Many people feel it beneficial to be in the presence of other addicts that have been winning their battle with drugs. It helps show them that it is possible, and gives them people they can turn to who know exactly what they are going through. In return, they do the same for newer member when they have achieved a certain level of success. Along with all of these treatments, many addicts turn to alternative treatment methods to enhance the traditional programs they are already going through. They feel things like acupuncture and acupressure help relieve a lot of the stress that comes with trying to change your life, and wean yourself off of a chemical dependency.

There are other useful holistic methods of treatment a person with substance use disorder can seek out as well. Picking which type of treatment to use is really a matter of personal choice. They can all work if the addict truly wants it to. Drug treatment is out there, it is safe, it is beneficial to addict and society alike and it can be a life line to a person who is hanging on by a thread.


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