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Saying Yes to Residential Treatment

Saying Yes to Residential Treatment

When someone decides that it’s time to get treatment for drug addiction or alcoholism, the first thing to cross his mind is a vague series of images involving some horrible residential treatment center complete with abusive staff and demeaning rules. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Most substance abuse treatment starts with outpatient therapy, because state addiction treatment boards require licensed facilities to recommend the least restrictive level of care for each person who needs help. That means if you’re just beginning to explore your options for treatment, you can call the phone number of any rehab center and ask first about outpatient therapy. Exceptions are made for those whose blood tests reveal high levels of substances in their bodies or for anybody using heroin.

So nobody is going to force you into residential treatment just because you step forward and admit that you need help. However, if you’ve tried outpatient therapy and you find you’re still using, then residential substance abuse treatment is your next obvious choice. And it is a choice, too—make no mistake about that. If you say you don’t want to go into residential treatment, most rehab centers will not accept you. Even if you’ve been ordered into residential treatment by a judge, or if your spouse is going to leave you, it’s still a choice:  Some people choose lock-up. Some people get divorced.

Why go to those extremes, however, when all you really need is more information about residential treatment.  Just what can you expect if you make the decision that staying at a facility 24/7 for a few months is the best way to interrupt your life and get it back on track?

When you make your initial call, you’ll be scheduled to come in and visit the facility. There you will meet with an intake counselor who will talk with you about what substances you’ve been using, how often, your method of using them, and your prior efforts to quit. The counselor will also talk with you about the facility’s rules and policies so that you understand what’s expected of you. Some facilities provide a full assessment before your actual admission. Other facilities simply meet with you for a consultation, and they complete the assessment on the day you begin treatment.

Once you’re admitted, you will meet a counselor—usually someone with a master’s degree, licensed by the state and certified in addiction treatment by his state’s counseling board—who will be in charge of your treatment during your stay. At most facilities, rooms are semi-private, so relax: You won’t sleep in a huge dormitory. A roommate who has been there a while can help you get through your first few days.

Those first days can be intimidating because you won’t know the staff members or the other clients, and you still have to learn the facility’s rules. Rest assured that once you familiarize yourself with your surroundings and your new acquaintances, your time there will fly by quickly. Most facilities implement a full schedule of group and individual therapy sessions as well as adjunctive therapies like yoga, massage, and movement classes.

Contact with the outside world will be limited for a while. You need to get your head into treatment, and so talk with your counselor about who you can contact and when. It’s also important to confront family issues that may have contributed to your addiction. As you make progress in your treatment for drug addiction, your family’s participation in your treatment becomes a very important part of your recovery.

As your progress through the phases of treatment, you will gain more free time and enjoy some passes. When you leave, you’ll buttress everything you’ve learned by attending aftercare classes for a while. Some treatment centers actually offer extended care facilities where you can live but enjoy some independence as well. Ultimately, the choice is yours. Why not make that first phone call?

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