Short-Term Residential Drug Treatment Program: Is It Right for You?
People whose substance use is mild or moderate may receive sufficient treatment through the general health care system, while those with more severe substance use issues will most likely require structured addiction treatment. Early intervention is the most effective way out of substance use issues before the condition starts to progress.1
There are different treatment options to choose from, varying in terms of intensity, duration, and extent. One of the options is a short-term residential treatment. This type of treatment usually entails working through an intensive addiction program while staying at a rehab facility for a relatively short time, approximately one month (3-6 weeks).2
A Brief Overview of Short-Term Treatment
Short-term programs became popular during the cocaine epidemic of the ‘80s. They were originally designed as intensive programs for treating alcohol addiction using a modified 12-step model. They were later adapted to treat other types of substance use disorders (SUDs) as well.2
Original short-term residential treatment was a hospital-based inpatient program followed by a longer period of outpatient therapy and participation in self-help groups, like AA. Individuals were encouraged to remain involved in outpatient aftercare programs to reduce the risk of relapse after leaving the residential environment.2
Scientific evidence shows that SUDs can be treated effectively, with similar success rates as those of other chronic illnesses, such as asthma, diabetes, or hypertension.2,3
Clinical trials and other outcome studies examined the effectiveness of different types of substance abuse rehab programs. The general conclusion is that there is no single approach that is guaranteed to be effective for everyone, and there is no overall advantage for residential or inpatient treatment over outpatient care.4
Of almost 16.000 substance abuse treatment facilities in the U.S., as of 2019, 15% of them offer short-term residential treatment that lasts 30 days or less.5,6
What Does a Short-Term Residential Drug Treatment Program Look Like?
Substance abuse treatments have the same goals and use similar methods to those used for other chronic illnesses. They aim to reduce key symptoms and improve overall health. This is also applied to patients with co-occurring disorders. The main components of care typically include medications, counseling, behavioral therapies, and other supportive services that aim to help eliminate alcohol and/or drug use.1,Potential physical or mental health problems are addressed as well.3
This initial part of the treatment consists of withdrawal symptoms management. This step entails the mitigation of the physical and emotional symptoms that most people experience after they stop using a substance. Depending on the substance, duration and amounts used, and the overall health or age of the patient, the intensity and duration of withdrawal symptoms can be different. Some substances produce significant physical withdrawal effects, others primarily emotional and cognitive ones.1
The detox process doesn’t address psychological and behavioral problems associated with alcohol and drug addiction, which is necessary for lasting recovery. That’s why it should be accompanied by an assessment and referral to individually tailored addiction treatment.1
Tailored Treatment Plans for the Users
Treatment varies depending on the substance, the severity of SUD, potential comorbidities/co-occurring diseases, and individual preferences.1
Trained professionals conduct assessments and make the diagnosis. This is crucial to understanding the nature of the circumstances that may have led to substance abuse. This assessment is a basis for the recommendations for the intensity of care and the treatment plan.4
Counseling and Support Groups
Short-term drug or alcohol rehab commonly includes counseling and other forms of social support, like community recovery groups. This is typically based on a patient’s needs and level of family and social support.1 Individual counseling is based on one-on-one conversations with a therapist, while group counseling involves a peer setting where members help one another.7, 8
The idea behind group therapy is to create a sense of closeness by sharing similar experiences and feelings.9 Mutual support through 12-step groups such as AA or NA and related groups is an important form of continuing care. This kind of fellowship can help during the recovery process, enabling users to change old behavior patterns, react responsibly to cravings, and build hope and determination to become and remain abstinent. It also helps avoid stressful situations and environments.9
Like with any other chronic condition, recovery from drug addiction depends on behavioral change to improve outcome. Cognitive and behavioral therapy approaches help patients recognize and change maladjusted behaviors, develop new or improved social skills that will encourage and sustain recovery, and learn how to react to cravings without relapsing. It usually consists of motivational enhancement and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).9
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a short-term approach that usually consists of 12 to 24 weekly sessions. This is the time to discuss the positive and negative consequences of substance use, and learn to use self-monitoring mechanisms to recognize cravings and situations that might lead to relapse. Therapy sessions also help the patient to develop coping strategies.5
Successful long-term recovery extends beyond the initial treatment period, and the best way to achieve this is to have an established aftercare plan. An individualized aftercare plan can prepare patients to manage the challenges they might face after discharge from short-term rehab facilities. Adhering to such plans can significantly help them maintain sobriety.10
Relapse prevention is an important goal of intensive short-term treatment that puts a strong emphasis on aftercare following discharge. Participation in aftercare or self-help groups appears to be associated with more successful outcomes.10
What’s a Typical Day in an Inpatient Short-Term Drug Rehab Facility?
Most inpatient drug treatment centers have very similar daily schedule framework that, excluding elements of treatment specific to individual facilities, consists of:9
- Therapy sessions.
- Support group or meetings.
What Happens After a Short-Term Residential Drug Treatment Program?
A great number of rehab programs prepare patients for potential relapse and try to help them recognize and avoid “triggers” that lead to resumed alcohol or drug use. They aim to teach patients to recognize those cues, handle stressful situations, cravings, and suggest what to do if they have a “slip.”4
This is usually accomplished through:9
- Outpatient care.
- Sober living.
- Follow-up counseling.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Short-Term Residential Drug Treatment Programs
The most common advantage of short-term rehab programs is the lower cost of treatment since they’re more likely to meet the requirements of health insurance policies than longer treatment options. They are also better suited for people hesitant to commit to prolonged treatment, such as pregnant women. They provide a quick and safe inpatient drug detox.10
Additionally, people with less complex or deep-rooted addiction who want an option that’s less disruptive to their life might benefit from shorter-term rehab. It provides the same level of care as long-term options and more intensive support that increases the probability of remaining sober.10
When it comes to the disadvantages of short-term rehab, there are also a few that users may want to consider. Primarily, for some patients, this type of program may not be sufficient to significantly benefit from the addiction treatment. The first few days (up to a week) of the program are usually taken up by the detox process. This might not leave enough time for individual and group therapy. That means not enough time to practice and adopt new habits, or to address the underlying issues which are causing addiction in the first place.11
People with more serious addictions might require a longer stay at a facility to overcome their dependence. It also might not work for people with previously unsuccessful short-term rehab attempts or those who have had multiple relapses.11
In addition, those who commit to treatment for longer periods of time are more likely to achieve better outcomes. In general, the duration of the treatment of 3 months or longer is often more likely to bring a successful outcome.11
Optimal results are generally achieved when the patient is actively participating in treatment. Also, prolonged abstinence after completing a treatment program increases the chances of lasting success. Almost 90% of those who manage to remain abstinent for 2 years are also drug/alcohol-free even after 10 years.12 Continuous participation in aftercare or self-help groups is also associated with success.4
Do Short-Term Inpatient Drug Rehab Programs Provide Sufficient Care?
This mostly comes down to the individual needs of each patient, and the severity of the addiction. Mild SUDs can be identified quickly and reliably in many medical and social settings. These less severe disorders might respond to brief motivational interventions and short-term treatment.4
However, severe, complex, and chronic SUDs most frequently require longer treatment and continued post-treatment support.2
Even if patients opt for short-term treatment, for any of the reasons discussed above, the quality of care should never be compromised due to the duration of the rehab program. Even after the completion of the program and the final evaluation, patients may be encouraged to extend their stay at the facility in case additional treatment time is needed. Recovery may continue with the same program or a transition to another modality.2
How Much Does a Residential Short-Term Drug Rehabilitation Program Cost?
The cost of short-term residential rehab treatment depends on the chosen facility, its location, as well as treatments, services, and amenities it offers to its patients. Individual insurance coverage is a significant factor as well. Programs that last 28-30 days usually cost a few hundred dollars per day.
All types of SUD treatment (inpatient, residential, and outpatient) are cost-effective compared to no treatment at all.2 Every dollar spent on treatment saves $4 in health care costs and $7 in criminal justice costs.13
Does Insurance Cover Short-Term Residential Drug Treatment Programs?
Short-term rehab is more likely to be covered by health insurance than a long-term one. A large number of healthcare insurance plans usually cover short-term drug rehab, but it would be best to call the insurance company and ask about the specifics to make sure. Insurance specialists at recovery facilities can also help find the program that will be covered.14
Most private insurance providers, such as Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Humana, United Healthcare, will cover some form of addiction treatment but your coverage will depend on your particular policy and the short-term rehabilitation center you choose in your area. State-funded options like Medicare or Medicaid provide coverage as well. To find free short-term rehab programs near you, try using SAMHSA’s Directory of Single State Agencies for Substance Abuse Services.
Many facilities offer payment plans to help with covering the expenses of rehab. Most treatment centers, including American Addiction Centers (AAC), accept commercial insurance that will cover some or all costs. AAC is in-network with the major insurance carriers nationwide and works to help achieve manageable payment plans. AAC also offers free verification of benefits, so you can discuss your potential costs and coverage according to your insurance plan.
How to Find Short-Term Rehab Programs Near Me?
When searching for a potential treatment facility, the main consideration for a great number of patients and their families is the rehabilitation center’s financial policy. However, there are other factors to be taken into consideration, such as staff expertise, patient amenities offered at a facility, success rates, total cost, aftercare services, and location. You can also learn about a specific facility by reading numerous patient reviews.
The easiest way to find the right kind of short-term rehabs near you is to call a helpline and ask about your options. For instance, the AAC team can also verify the insurance coverage for you.You can easily get all the information you need by calling the AAC helpline and talking to an admissions navigator who can quickly verify your insurance benefits and explore different payment options while you’re on the phone. You can also do this by filling out the online form.