Inpatient Addiction Treatment


The main benefit of inpatient addiction treatment is also one of the main problems. When someone agrees to be confined and receive detailed medical care, they are simultaneously under treatment and watched to make sure they do not obtain alcohol or drugs. The positive effect of concentrated medical and psychological care has to be balanced by the artificial nature of the situation. Eventually, they have to be released back into the “wild.”

Inpatient addiction treatment is an artificial environment. Like a greenhouse for plants, addicts are protected and nourished while simultaneously confined. The physical withdrawal is dealt with first – and modern treatment centers are very good at this. Then, the real battle begins. How to best repair, and prepare, the newly sober person to reenter their own life?

Studies have shown two things clearly. The first is that the overall success rate of inpatient addiction treatment is better (at least short term) than an outpatient program when dealing with substance abuse. (The jury is still out for other addictions – e.g., sex, food.) The second proven fact is that a longer period of inpatient addiction treatment is better than a shorter term. By longer, I mean months instead of days.

Everyone who needs it can’t take advantage of longer term inpatient addiction treatment. Despite the proven benefit, it is too expensive. Inpatient addiction treatment costs a great deal and there aren’t many resources available to pay for it. Medical insurance usually stops after a short, initial phase and public money is restricted. But even those who can afford it – celebrities and the wealthy – usually check themselves out early. It’s no surprise that when someone starts to feel healthier, they want to get back to their lives.

The best that inpatient addiction treatment can do is to try to give addicts the skills they will need to stay on the right track. This includes drilling down to discover underlying problems that contribute to the addictive behavior.

By no means is the treatment meant to be a cure. Follow up is essential, either with outpatient care and repeated visits, group meetings (like AA or NA) or some combination. One excellent addition is having family members and loved ones participate in some related therapy or educational program related to addiction.


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