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Packing for outpatient treatment.
May 30, 2017

Benefits to Referring a Patient to an Offsite Drug or Alcohol Rehab

Packing for outpatient treatment.At-home drug or alcohol treatment has its advocates—but if you’re referring a patient to substance abuse treatment, you may be doing them more of a service by encouraging them to do rehab away from home. Explore the treatment benefits of an offsite rehab experience:

Addiction is never easy to overcome. The hardest part is the decision to accept and go into treatment for the disease. Once the patient makes the decision to get help for an addiction, however, the next step is to decide what kind of treatment is appropriate and the best place to get it. As a medical professional, given a thorough understanding of your patient’s medical history and the type of addiction he or she is trying to overcome, you have two options for referrals: outpatient or residential treatment. For many addicts, the best choice is going to an offsite drug or alcohol rehab.

There are several benefits to inpatient treatment. Each is an integral part of learning to overcome the disease of addiction. Combined, they offer the most promising chances for effective treatment and recovery.

Personalized Treatment Plan

There is no one-size-fits-all plan for treatment that works for everyone. Just as individuals vary in terms of taste, personality, body type, intelligence and other characteristics, each person is also affected differently by addiction. To maximize the likelihood of getting clean and remaining in sobriety, you should encourage your patient to strongly consider residential treatment. After an initial assessment, during which all relevant medical conditions and an in-depth discussion of the kind, type, and duration of drugs taken, the addict seeking to overcome addiction is accepted into treatment and a personalized treatment plan prepared.

Such an individualized plan for treatment is not as effective, if it’s even offered, on an outpatient basis. This is not to say outpatient treatment holds no value, for it is a viable choice for many people who cannot afford residential treatment, can’t be away from family or a job for the time residential treatment requires, or other reasons.

Detox Services

While medical professionals know this, your patient may not. The first step in overcoming addiction to drugs or alcohol or a combination of both, or a dual diagnosis of mental health issues and substance abuse, is detoxification from the harmful substances. The protocol and process of detoxing varies depending on the substance or substances of abuse. Some detox requires longer than others and involves dealing with unpleasant to severe withdrawal symptoms. Heroin addiction, for example, is a rough withdrawal, as is addiction to prescription opiates, whether used for medical or recreational purposes.

Let your patient know that an offsite drug or alcohol rehab facility best serves the person who wants a seamless transition from detox into subsequent treatment. The treatment staff is comprised of medical professionals available 24/7 to appropriately manage the patient’s withdrawal symptoms and help him or her deal with cravings and urges while the substances are removed from the body. Certain medications may be prescribed and administered to alleviate some of the discomfort of those symptoms, relieve anxiety and depression, and make the detox process more comfortable and less intimidating.

Individual Counseling

A big part of treatment for addiction involves individual or one-on-one counseling. Your patient who goes into an offsite drug or alcohol rehab will receive counseling from a therapist one to three times a week. During the therapy session, topics discussed may include dealing with recurring cravings and urges, a discussion of goals for treatment, how certain treatment modalities are working or need adjustment, relapse prevention, relationship issues, family problems, worries and concerns of the patient and other areas of interest.

The continuity of counseling and the development of respect and rapport between patient and therapist aids greatly in motivating the addict to do the work necessary to heal from addiction. When counseling occurs during residential treatment, it’s part of a comprehensive and multi-faceted program that’s generally more effective than outpatient therapy.

Group Counseling

In addition to individual counseling, another benefit of residential treatment for drug or alcohol abuse or addiction is group counseling. As the name implies, such counseling takes place in a group and typically occurs three to five times a week. Topics discussed during group therapy may be much the same as those that happen with an individual and his or her therapist. Other topics may be sharing between group members or a topic that the group decides to discuss. Groups may also cover topics such as transition skills, how 12-step groups work, anticipating a return home, how to prepare for going back to work and more.

Advise your patient that there’s strength in numbers, particularly when members of the group are all motivated by the same desire to overcome addiction. Group members encourage and support each other’s efforts to heal and help reassure the newcomer or those who are feeling discouraged that they are not alone.

Treatment Modalities, Alternative Therapies, Lifestyle Activities and More

While in residential treatment for drug or alcohol abuse, dependence or addiction, your patient will receive several different treatment modalities, alternative therapies, and lifestyle activities. These may vary according to the treatment facility and the type of addiction, but may include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
  • Educational groups for drug and alcohol abuse
  • Process groups
  • Gender-specific groups
  • Therapeutic massage
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Weekly family events
  • Planning for transition and aftercare
  • Structured planning for short- and long-term aftercare

Residential treatment is a healing community, a welcoming haven to begin the process of overcoming addition to alcohol or drugs. By being part of and involved in such an environment, your patient will be encouraged to maintain a commitment to sobriety upon completion of treatment.

Relapse Prevention

After detox and treatment, maintaining sobriety is still not guaranteed. It is, however, more likely to be achieved with a solid plan and knowledge about relapse prevention. This is a critical part of residential drug or alcohol rehab. Without a thorough understanding of and an intensive discussion about a relapse prevention plan, falling back into addiction is not only more likely, it’s also predictable.

A relapse prevention plan helps the individual to identify the triggers and stressors that may prompt a return to using, as well as develop an effective plan to deal with them when they occur. Such discussions often center around freedom from alcohol or drugs and the kind of lifestyle choices that facilitate the goal of sobriety.

Another key part of relapse prevention is the encouragement to participate in 12-step recovery groups after leaving treatment. Everyone in recovery needs the support of their family, friends and allies as a part of their ongoing recovery efforts. Family support is foremost, while 12-step or self-help groups are also a vital component of effective relapse prevention and ongoing sobriety goals.

When your patient turns to you for advice on what to do to overcome his or her addiction to alcohol or drugs, be prepared with knowledgeable information that can help him or her get the help they so want and need. Stress that while both outpatient and inpatient treatment have the same goal of sobriety for the individual with addiction, residential drug or alcohol rehab is likely the better fit and offers the prospect of more effective long-term sobriety.

Sources:

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Therapy Manuals for Drug Addiction Series, “Individual Drug Counseling.” Retrieved April 25, 2017

National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Drugs, Brains and Behavior: The Science of Addiction,” “Treatment and Recovery.” Retrieved April 25, 2017

National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition), “Types of Treatment Programs.” Retrieved April 25, 2017

Psychiatric Clinics of North America, PubMed, “Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Substance Use Disorders.” Retrieved April 25, 2017

Publications, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), Alcohol Research and Health, “Relapse Prevention.” Retrieved April 25, 2017

The Fix, “How to Fight Those Addiction Triggers.” Retrieved April 25, 2017

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