Drug and alcohol addictions can have detrimental consequences for your health, family life, occupational success, and overall functioning. However, with intervention and treatment, you can achieve recovery.
There are many types of drug and alcohol rehabs available for you or a loved one, and residential rehab centers are one such option. As the name suggests, patients live in a rehab center for a certain amount of time and receive various forms of treatment during their stay, including:
- Medical supervision.
- Supportive individual, group, and family counseling.
- Supplemental therapies.
- Group activities.
This type of continual oversight and support, especially early in recovery, can help lay a strong foundation on which to build a successful, long-term recovery.
Learn More About Tolerance & DependenceWhile these two conditions often arise in tandem, there are important differences between them. Understanding those differences can give you a clearer picture of substance abuse and help you know when it’s time to seek professional help, like residential treatment. Read More
What’s the Difference Between Residential and Outpatient Treatment?
Residential treatment differs from outpatient rehab in several ways:1,2
- Living situation. Residential rehab centers require that you live at a rehab facility, while outpatient treatment programs allow you to live at home while attending treatment during the day.
- Type of therapy. Most rehab programs (residential and outpatient) offer individual, family, and group therapies. Outpatient programs offer these therapies a couple times a week (depending on how often you attend), while daily therapy is typical in residential treatment programs.
- Length of treatment. Some residential programs can last from 6 to 12 months, and research indicates that most people need 90 days of treatment to achieve ongoing recovery. Outpatient programs may last anywhere between 30 days and 1 year, depending on the structure of the program and your recovery support needs.
- Intensity. Residential rehab programs are designed for people who need more intensive therapy than those provided in an outpatient setting. However, neither type of program is designed for people with acute needs, such as people who are actively suicidal—a hospital setting is needed in these cases.
- Cost. Residential rehab programs are generally more expensive than outpatient programs because they provide more services and do so around the clock.
What Services Do They Offer?
Programs at residential rehabs vary based on the age groups served and the specific needs of residents. For instance, many programs work with people with dual diagnoses, meaning that they have both a mental health and a substance abuse diagnosis.1 Other residential programs specialize in a certain demographic, such as women-only or faith-based.
Regardless of a given center’s specialty, standard services offered across the board at many residential treatment facilities include:1,2
- Detox. First, you go through a period of detox to get your substance of choice out of your system and to ensure that you are medically stable. This could take place at a separate detox facility or a different section of the residential rehab center.
- Assessment. You receive a thorough and comprehensive assessment of your needs, underlying psychological issues, history of drug use, and physical health to ensure that you receive the best treatment possible for your situation.
- Development of individualized treatment plan with goals. Using the information gained from your assessment, your treatment team (primary therapist, psychiatrist, and other relevant staff) develop a unique treatment plan for your stay, including the goals they will help you work toward before you leave.
- Individual and group therapy. Most programs offer a combination of group and individual therapy to help you process the issues that underlie your addiction, and to help you avoid using drugs in the future as a means of coping with stressors.
- 12-step meetings. When people are in a residential rehab program, attending 12-step groups provides additional support and familiarizes them with a tool they can use after leaving rehab.
- Aftercare planning. A quality program begins to prepare you to continue to make progress in recovery after leaving residential treatment. Aftercare planning covers elements such as where you will live and addresses educational or occupational needs to help you make a smooth transition back to your community after leaving treatment.
Most programs use certain types of therapy, the most popular of which include:2,3,4
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a form of behavioral treatment common for addiction that teaches you to recognize faulty thought processes and how they affect your behaviors. You then learn healthier ways to think and act, and apply it to your recovery.
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). DBT is a form of behavioral treatment used for people with both mental health and substance abuse disorders. DBT focuses on your desire to change; enhancing your strengths; developing new, positive behaviors for coping; and enhancing the environment in which you live. DBT also focuses on building skills to handle urges to use.
- Motivational interviewing (MI). MI is a technique designed to work with your motivation to change and to enhance that motivation to help you abstain from using drugs.
- Family therapy. Family Behavior Therapy (FBT) is one form of family therapy that has shown promising results for recovery through addressing both addiction and co-occurring family issues, which can maintain and promote recovery of the person with an addiction. 1
Some residential treatment programs specialize in treating certain populations, providing sought-after accommodations, or incorporating distinct treatment philosophies into their therapeutic approach, including:
- Luxury programs. These types of programs cost more than an average treatment program but provide such amenities as specially prepared meals, private rooms, and surroundings that feel more like a luxury spa or hotel than a hospital or institutional environment.
- Teen-specific. Certain drug and alcohol rehab programs exclusively serve teenagers, focusing on the unique needs of adolescents and gearing therapy and curriculum to this stage of life.
- Gender-specific. Some residential rehab programs offer male- or female-only programs, which may be a better choice for people who feel uncomfortable discussing their personal issues in front of the opposite gender. For example, a woman whose sexual abuse is an underlying cause of her drug addiction may not want to discuss the abuse in front of men. Some people also find that the distraction of being attracted to a person of the opposite sex while in drug and alcohol rehab prevents them from fully participating in their drug and alcohol treatment.
- Faith-based programs. Some people want the assurance that their personal faith will be part of a treatment program and draw strength from a spiritual emphasis in their recovery.
How to Choose a Center
No one program is right for everyone, so think about the following factors before deciding on a specific rehab:
- Location. Location is a major factor for most people in choosing a program for treatment because of the costs associated with traveling, as well as proximity to family and friends.
- Cost. Some programs won’t fit your budget, and your insurance may not cover certain facilities, so picking a rehab program you can afford is important. Most people begin by figuring out which programs are covered by their insurance.
- Treatment approach. Some programs offer 12-step–based treatment, while others may employ a holistic approach to rehab. Consider these and other options when deciding on a residential rehab program.
- Staff experience. Some programs have a strong reputation for quality, supported by a staff with decades of treatment experience. Ask about the staff’s experience at the rehabs you’re considering, and do a tour to meet some of them in person to see if your personalities might work well together.
- Amenities. For some people, private rooms and luxury amenities are very important, which may lead them to choose a more expensive program that can provide these extras. Dietary needs, location, and program rules may also be factors in choosing a treatment program.
- Co-occurring disorders. Underlying issues, such as depression or bipolar disorder, also need attention during drug and alcohol treatment, so if you have a co-occurring disorder, it’s important to choose a program equipped to handle these issues as well.
- Aftercare. A program with a strong alumni community can be a great resource for continued recovery.
- Opinion of others. Online reviews of various drug and alcohol programs may provide insight into what a certain treatment center is really like. Just keep in mind that the complaints one person has, while likely valid, may not be as big an issue for you. For example, complaints about food may not concern you or your loved one very much, while it is a major consideration for someone else.
Cost and Payment
While it may be difficult to reach out and ask for their help, friends and family may be more than happy to assist if they can.
The length of stay, various amenities provided, and geographic location of a rehab program all play a role in costs. Insurance coverage is a major factor too—by staying in-network, your insurance will cover a much higher percentage of the costs than out of network.
Various ways to pay for treatment include:
- Insurance. Be sure to speak to your insurance company to see if they cover your treatment.
- Payment plans. Some facilities will work out a payment plan, stretching payments over several months.
- Credit cards. Many facilities accept credit cards as payment; just be sure you can afford the payments.
- Loans. Some people take out a personal or medical loan to pay for the cost of rehab.
- Borrowing. If you have supportive friends and family, they may be willing to lend you the money to pay for treatment. While it may be difficult to reach out and ask for their help, they may be more than happy to assist if they can.
- Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. (2011). Residential Treatment Centers.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment. A Research-Based Guide. (3rd Edition).
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Behavioral Therapies.
- Dimeff, L. A. & Linehan, M. M. (2008). Dialectical behavior therapy for substance abusers. Addiction Science and Clinical Practice, 4(2), 39–47.