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Long Term Drug Treatment Programs

If you or a loved one is suffering from a serious drug addiction, long term drug treatment programs may provide the best chance for long-lasting recovery. Recovery from drug addiction is not a simple process. For severely addicted individuals, detoxing and attending a few weeks or even months of therapy isn’t enough to ensure a successful outcome. Drug addiction often evolves over years, leaving addicts lacking in many of the basic skills they need to function as a member of regular society. Long term drug treatment programs that last for 6 to 12 months give addicted individuals the extra time they need in treatment. They have the chance to learn self-responsibility and develop essential skills that will enable them to function in society while staying drug-free and safe from relapses.

3 Minute Read | Published Sep 18 2023 | Updated Jun 02 2024 Expert Verified
Emma Collins
Written by
Ashley Bayliss
Reviewed by
Emma Collins
Written by
Ashley Bayliss
Reviewed by

Why long term drug treatment programs offer the best chance at recovery

Are long-term drug treatment programs effective?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has found that patients who participated in drug treatment at 6 month rehab facilities or programs that were even longer had consistently had better recovery rates at the five year mark. One NIDA sponsored study, the Drug Abuse Treatment Outcome Study, found that individuals who successfully completed a long-term drug treatment program had lower levels of cocaineheroin, and alcohol use; criminal behavior; unemployment; and depression indicators than they had before treatment.

In another study, this one funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), individuals who received treatment in long term drug treatment programs (longer than 90 days) were found to be 22–43% more likely to be employed in the year following treatment than those who participated in shorter programs.

What are the characteristics of long term drug treatment programs?

Long term residential treatment programs, also known as therapeutic communities, focus on developing personal accountability and establishing a socially productive life. These programs can range in length anywhere from six months to 18 months or longer. While they offer many different options to meet individual needs, most long term drug treatment programs share certain characteristics:

  • Highly regulated daily regimens where residents have clearly stated responsibilities with punishments and rewards for compliance.
  • Community as method with community residents and staff participating jointly in the management of the community.
  • Social learning Peer influence plays a large role.
  • Designed to treat individuals with specific needs Programs are geared towards treating populations with specific needs such as gender-specific groups, criminal offenders, homeless individuals, adolescents, and patients with co-occurring psychiatric disorders.

What happens when you enter a long term drug treatment program?

Patients entering a six months to one year drug rehab program can expect treatment to progress through three stages:

Stage 1: Immersion

When residents first arrive at a long term treatment program, they are expected to participate fully in the community. For some addicted individuals, this is their first exposure to an orderly, functioning life-style. Other residents may be in need of re-socialization to regain their formerly productive lives.   This immersion in community is meant to disrupt old drug-using habits and help establish positive behaviors. Residents are made aware of their drug-using behaviors.

Stage 2: Behavioral treatments and therapies

Treatment consists of social learning, with role playing and confrontations where residents challenge and influence each other in “right” behavior. Patients undergo intensive group, individual, and peer counseling sessions and behavioral cognitive therapy to change old patterns of destructive behavior.

Stage 3: Preparation for separation

To prepare residents for successful re-entry into the larger community, long term drug treatment programs provide help with outside arrangements. This includes teaching residents relapse prevention strategies as well as helping residents secure employment or entry into educational or training arrangements.

Resources

bullet National Institute on Drug Abuse (2020)
"Principles of Effective Treatment"
Retrieved on January 31, 2017
bullet Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2015)
"Treatment Improvement Protocol: The Role and Current Status of Patient Placement Criteria in the Treatment of Substance Use Disorders"
Retrieved on January 31, 2017
bullet American Society of Addiction Medicine (2015)
"The ASAM Criteria: Treatment Criteria for Addictive, Substance-Related, and Co-Occurring Conditions"
Retrieved on January 31, 2017
bullet Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2016)
"Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder: Guide to Implementing Evidence-Based Practices"
Retrieved on January 31, 2017
bullet Drug and Alcohol Findings (2020)
"What Makes for Effective Treatment?"
Retrieved on January 31, 2017
bullet National Institute on Drug Abuse (2021)
"Types of Treatment Programs"
Retrieved on January 31, 2017
bullet Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (n.d.)
"Treatment Services Locator"
Retrieved on January 31, 2017
bullet Recovery Research Institute (n.d.)
"Levels of Care in Addiction Treatment"
Retrieved on January 31, 2017
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