There is a common phrase among the rooms of twelve step meetings used to describe people who just can’t seem to stay sober, despite their best efforts. Chronic Relapser” is what you will hear people call themselves, when, time after time, they are baffled by how they fall victim to relapse despite experiencing horrible consequences and repercussions of their drinking and using. If there was one finite group of people in which long-term drug treatment would MOST benefit, it would be the chronic relapsers.
That is not to say that long-term drug treatment is ONLY good for chronic relapsers. On the contrary, it can widely benefit people from all sorts of backgrounds and situations. For example, folks who struggle with dual diagnosis disorders and people who have experienced extreme trauma will also find solace in a long-term drug treatment program. Here is why.
What Is The Difference Between Long and Short Term Treatment?
Apart from the difference in the number of days, there has been a lot of research into the benefits of a long-term drug treatment program in comparison to the typical 30-day stay. Yeah, it can be a real bummer being separated from life for that long, however, when you really think about it, can you admit that the life you are putting on pause was probably filled with a lot more bad than good?
Now that we are thinking about the positives of long-term drug treatment, let’s keep the ball rolling! Here are some more examples as to how a long term stay can benefit you:
- You have more time to get comfortable and adjusted.
- You get to actually do some real work with a therapist.
- You get to connect with the other people in there with you and watch them go through some pretty awesome growth.
- You get to take a break from the outside world to really reset your system.
- By the time you get out, you already have 90-120 days sober.
- You will have time to adjust to any medication that you may need to go on.
Once you can get over the fear of being in treatment for that long, the rest of the work can really begin. So again, who is long-term drug treatment really good for?
For those who cycle in and out of 30-day rehab programs and wonder why they can never get more than three months, there are some underlying factors here that usually play a role in why this happens. They are uncomfortable to hear, and maybe even difficult to swallow, but you will hear it all the time in the rooms when people come back from a relapse. The reasons are:
- They never really tried to work the steps
- They had some (many) lingering reservations
- They had too many resentments
- They never fully hit a bottom, or they had more “digging” to do
- They never fully surrendered
The main reason why long term treatment helps chronic relapsers is the same reason why it helps other people so much because it allows people to undergo some real thorough, sober therapy. In a 30 day program, by the time you sober up and start to actually trust your therapist a little bit, you are probably closer to the end of your stay, and working on the deep stuff doesn’t really get to happen. In a long-term drug treatment program, you are able to get sober, get comfortable, and still have a few more months to start uncovering the real issues.
Most people who use drugs and alcohol experience some form or other of trauma – but there are some people who have really seen some sh**. Some pretty common traumatic experiences among people who abuse drugs and alcohol are:
- People from alcoholic and abusive households
- People who have been the victims of sex trafficking or assaults
- People who have survived terrible car accidents in which a friend or loved one died
- People who have been in war
- People who have watched or found friends die from an overdose
- Death of parents or family members
The list can actually go on and on. The point is, the benefit of long-term drug treatment is the same here as it is for chronic relapsers, and many times, these two groups of people can be one and the same. It can be extremely difficult for people who have experienced trauma to be able to trust others. This is why having a therapist for only 30 days can put a real damper on the trauma work that could potentially save their life.
In a long term program, the window for trust and security opens up a lot more, and deeply rooted trauma work can actually take place. Processing and healing from trauma can actually eradicate problematic behavior patterns, trust issues, and can open people up to working the steps and being honest with another person.
Dual Diagnosis Patients
More often than not, people who struggle with addiction and alcoholism also struggle with mental and mood disorders that can make it difficult to stay sober and live functional lives. The mental disorders that occur for people who struggle with addiction are often fueled by drugs and drinking, and drugs and drinking are often fueled by mental disorders.
Some of the more common mental and mood disorders that are diagnosed alongside addiction are:
- Eating Disorders
- Bipolar Disorder
- Antisocial personality disorder
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
For the folks who also struggle with these disorders, it usually brings into the forefront the topic of meds. People who have bipolar disorder generally do a lot better in sobriety when they have medication to level out the different mood swings. However, in a 30-day program, many of these disorders can often be misdiagnosed as they are eerily similar to the effects produced by drug and alcohol use and withdrawal.
For this reason, a long-term drug treatment program allows individuals ample time to get sober from the drugs and booze, and for psychiatrists to make a more accurate diagnosis of any co-occurring mood or mental disorders that might be at play. Once diagnosed properly, the individual will also have the ability to get accustomed to these meds before going back out into the world.
There are a lot of reasons why long-term drug treatment is beneficial. There are also a lot of reasons why it freaks many people out. When we are getting honest with ourselves, we have to admit that the main reason many people opt out of getting long term treatment, is because they know it means they really have to stop drinking and getting high. When the time comes and the end of the road is approaching, rather than dragging out the process with the same old 30-day cycle, consider a long term stay and really getting down to business.