Long-Term and Short-Term Treatment Options

Finding the Right People for Your Support System
February 8, 2021
Outpatient Programs
February 12, 2021

The options for treating addiction are as diverse as the people who need it. Treatment programs can vary widely in approach, setting, and duration of services. If you or a loved one are battling addiction or problems related to substance abuse, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the variety of methods available to you. One of the most common questions raised when choosing a path of recovery is whether you need long-term or short-term treatment.

Most long-term treatments in a residential setting last at least 90 days; some may last a year and a half. Anything under three months is typically considered short-term treatment. Most recovery programs begin with a three-to-six-week inpatient treatment program, after which a patient will assess their progress and possibly move on to outpatient care. Recovery always takes time, and each person’s path will be different.

The Benefits of Long-Term Treatment

Addiction to drugs or alcohol is similar to diabetes or any other chronic illness:  it must be treated with ongoing care and management. Depending on the severity of your condition, you should be prepared to put time and effort into your recovery. Prolonged substance abuse can cause chemical changes to your brain, which can require long-term treatment to repair.

Beyond the ways in which addiction can affect you physically, a psychological rewiring has to take place in your mental approach to everyday life. Some goals you might expect out of inpatient treatment can include regaining self-sufficiency, learning how to cope with stress and other negative emotions without abusing a substance, being held accountable for your health, developing stronger social skills, and achieving stable employment. These goals make up an extensive process that cannot be rushed, and it’s worth it: after treatment, you will be in a better position to overcome your cravings and avoid relapse. 

Outpatient Treatment

Long-term treatment has proven to be highly effective if the addiction was long-term or especially severe. Although many patients reside at the site of their treatment throughout the process, sometimes they will stay off-site and come in for several meetings and appointments each week, which is known as outpatient treatment. This form of care allows you to go out in the real world to relearn your social skills and grow accustomed to a life in sobriety. It also provides a substance-free environment that is available to you as needed. If you choose an outpatient program, you will need a certain amount of time and space away from potential triggers. Having access to your treatment center gives you all the time you need to break the cycle of relapse and dependence. 

Short-Term Treatment 

In some situations, short-term treatment can offer only 30 days free from drug use. While these programs may fall under the guidelines of insurance policies, some practitioners believe that they may not provide sufficient time to completely combat an addiction. Short-term programs are beneficial for those who want the chance to take a break from an addiction to regroup. Temporarily removing yourself from conditions that were negatively affecting your mental health can be beneficial in the short run and even has the potential to act as the catalyst for you to begin seeking lasting change. Unfortunately, short-term treatment may put you at higher risk for relapse when you go back home. 

Figure Out What Works Best for You 

Ultimately, you have to find the treatment that best addresses your specific situation. If you have been addicted to a substance for multiple years, chances are high that you will need long-term assistance. In some cases, a person may even need both, using short-term treatment as a period of detox and then following it up with long-term care. If you are still functioning at work, school, and in your relationships, you may just need short-term treatment to press the reset button. If your budget is a factor in your decision, short-term residential treatment may be preferred. Finances, work requirements, and family obligations are all legitimate reasons to consider short-term treatment.  

People struggling with severe addictions to dangerous substances like heroin or meth, people who have been fighting addiction for a long time, and those who have experienced multiple relapses will likely require a long-term plan of action to ensure that they get the proper care that they need. If your addiction is preventing you from succeeding or maintaining your position at school or at work, it may be time to shut everything down and tackle the root of the issue. Even if a problem hasn’t been going on for long, some addiction-related issues can quickly become more severe, making it critical to find a more extensive solution.  

A critical component of overcoming addiction is finding out which method of treatment works best for you or your loved one. If you have been struggling with sobriety for an extended period of time, a long-term treatment plan may be the most effective for you. Long-term treatment can also be a worthwhile option if you are struggling with highly addictive substances like meth or heroin. You should ultimately make this decision based on your specific needs and circumstances to ensure that you receive an adequate amount of treatment. If you need to detox, or simply need a break from your triggers, short-term treatment can temporarily relieve stressors. If you or a loved one are looking for long-term treatment, contact Kimberly Center. We provide long-term care for people struggling with addiction, substance abuse, mental illness, and other forms of personal challenge. We utilize evidence-based therapies that are designed to last a lifetime. Contact us at (855) 452-3683 to learn more.

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