How do I choose a treatment program?

Updated: Dec 14, 2019

Admittedly choosing the length of treatment for your loved one can be intimidating. However, research shows that the best outcomes are with longer durations of treatment. You need to ensure that the decision allows for an opportunity for a higher chance of long-term success.


In our blog article about why in-treatment is suggested, there are 4 aspects mentioned:


  1. Detoxification

  2. Brain chemistry changes

  3. Psychological and social factors

  4. Confronting life on life’s terms


Exploring these may help you with your decision on choosing the length of treatment.


1. Detoxification:

Has your loved one tried stopping before? What physical symptoms did they experience? Their ability to participate in the program has an impact on the time-frame required on the program. Even with supervised detoxification in-hospital, muscle ache, cramps, etc. usually require extra downtime which influences the therapeutic component of the program.


2. Brain chemistry changes:

Longer-term substance abuse has an implication on how brain chemistry changes. The decision-making process is therefore compromised and their motivation for change is ultimately hindered. There is no exact statistic on amount of time needed to alter our brain chemistry but it is reasonable to think that someone who has been drinking excessively for 2 years compared to someone who has been drinking for 10 years will be significantly different. However, with some illicit drugs, we have found that due to the composition of these drugs (chemically altered ingredients) some drugs have shown excessive changes within a shorter period of time.


3. Psychological and social factors:

Self-Esteem, distress tolerance and emotional intelligence – to name but a few – influences the way we deal with everyday life around us. Exploring these factors, in-treatment creates an advantage for your loved one and how they will function back home after treatment. Our end goal is behaviour modification and depending on the client’s ability to actively use the tools they are taught is the biggest factor.


4. Confronting life on life’s terms:

What life events are currently in their immediate environment? Family conflict, work or unemployment related issues, procrastinating on big decisions, etc. Would they benefit from a program that looks at the surface or is a more in-depth program needed to dig a little deeper? Our end goal is behaviour modification and being in a safe environment allows us to effectively monitor progress with therapeutic initiatives taught through counselling. Being in a safe environment does not mean they are isolated from real-life events to the contrary, many of our day-to-day struggles come forth in treatment. Effective communication, boundaries, identifying emotions, etc. are commonly exposed when living in a recovery community.


Why is the 3 months program the most popular?

This program allows us to explore the underlying causes of drug or alcohol use. Ultimately, the substance use is not the only problem, the behaviours associated with a substance use dependence needs exploring and dealt with as well. This allows for more therapeutic interventions and the ability to combine a more thorough aftercare plan based on the challenges observed.


When is a 1-month program recommended?

Less severe withdrawal is expected with minimal downtime from the program. Your loved one knows they have a problem and is willing to commit. Emotionally they’ll be able to be pushed to dig deep into their drug use and reservations to use again is minimal. If they are typically procrastinators this program is not suggested. Someone who has done an intensive treatment before and maintained long terms of sobriety at a time before relapse is also good candidates for this program.


Why would the 6-month program be ideal?

When someone has been through numerous in-treatment programs with short-term relapsing results, it might be that there are underlying issues yet to be discovered and/or dealt with. Severe dual-diagnosis (substance abuse disorder with an underlying mental illness) could also have an impact on the treatment term. It is important to be aware that with a dual-diagnosis, your loved one may experience prolonged periods of high or low moods which has an impact on the treatment outcomes.


What happens if I choose too little time?

Part of our evaluations and formal family sessions will be to advise if we feel more time is needed with your loved one. Typically, we will advise on a month-to-month extension where after progress are monitored.

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