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How Long is the Addiction Treatment Process
Why does the drug addiction treatment process take so long?
Addiction treatment is a long process. For it to be effective, it should go on as long as the patient needs it to, depending on the severity of the addiction and what is comfortable for the patient. Some facilities have set times that a patient will stay and be treated, but the needs of the patient should always be the focus of the treatment plan.
Inpatient Addiction Treatment
Inpatient treatment is most effective when it lasts for several months. The NIDA states that "participation for less than 90 days is of limited effectiveness," so most facilities follow treatment plans of three months or more. In these facilities, a person is given 24-hour care, medically-assisted detox and behavioral therapies. There are often other treatments available in these facilities like exercise programs and cooking and vocational classes.
Inpatient treatment is often necessary for those with severe addictions who cannot go through the withdrawal stage and its after effects alone. Inpatient facilities allow patients to step away from the difficulties of their daily lives and focus on getting better. This is why these treatments can last for 90 days or longer.
Outpatient Addiction Treatment
Providing patients with another option, outpatient treatment is necessary for those who:
Are facing addictions which are less severe than patients in inpatient treatment.
Have gone through inpatient treatment and relapsed.
Need to continue with their responsibilities and lives while in treatment.
Have strong support systems made up of friends and family members.
Outpatient treatment has a similar rate of success as inpatient treatment after 90 days. However, there are types of outpatient treatment that require longer commitments. "For methadone maintenance treatment, 12 months is considered the minimum, and some opioid-addicted individuals continue to benefit from methadone maintenance for many years" (NIDA).
Why Does Addiction Treatment Take So Long?
Even the minimum time that a person should remain in treatment for it to be effective is three months, so why does drug addiction treatment take so long? The NLM states that "substance use disorder is a serious condition and not easy to treat." Here are some of the reasons why drug addiction has such a long treatment process:
Detox, successful completion of a treatment program, or even a certain length of time a person is sober does not mean that he or she is over the addiction. Addiction is a "brain disease" that does not go away but can be worked through with certain treatments.
Some treatments are not about getting a person to a state of total abstinence. Methadone maintenance treatment is necessary for individuals who have been addicted to heroin or other dangerous opiates for a long time, and the goal is not to quit but to maintain a lifestyle that is without intense drug abuse.
Treatment is often not a one-time affair. Many people stay in a treatment facility and then, after leaving the facility, are encouraged to attend regular support groups or make frequent trips to outpatient centers as continuing treatment.
According the NIDA, "no single treatment is appropriate for everyone." People's needs also change during and after treatment. Because of these reasons, it can be difficult to say how long treatment takes for each person, although a minimum of 90 days is usually recommended for most.
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