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Extended Care

Extended care rehab centers are programs of over 90 days and up to about two years. Overcoming substance use disorders is tough, especially when addiction has taken hold. Because of this many people seek help at rehab centers. The kind of help offered at rehab centers for substance use disorders varies depending on the type of program, the drug of abuse, and your specific circumstances.

One thing is for certain, however, and that is that the length of time spent in treatment is correlated with the level of benefits you can receive from the treatment. According to the US National Library of Medicine, staying in treatment for longer will increase your likelihood of achieving the maximum treatment benefits. Treatment durations of longer than three months often show successful outcomes, meaning long periods of abstinence from substances when compared with shorter programs.

Benefits of Extended Care Rehab

One main benefit of long-term rehab is that the outcome of treatment improves in direct relation with the treatment’s duration. One of the reasons for this is the fact that with longer time in treatment you have a better chance at putting to use the skills you’ve learned in treatment. Rehab centers help individuals get clean and sober through a variety of methods that include teaching skills to remain sober and introducing activities to do in the time that you previously spent using substances. It can take a long time to get out of old habits, especially if they’re all you’ve ever known, and extended care programs provide that time while you are still supervised and have access to a wide variety of helpful resources. Generally, long-term rehab gives individuals the healing time they need to let their minds and bodies recover from the effects of substance abuse and addiction.

These four things represent some of the main benefits of long-term rehab:

  • Improved treatment outcomes
  • Integration into society as a drug-free individual
  • Vocational skills and employment training
  • Development of social skills

Who Needs Extended Care Rehab?

addiction recovery

Long-term substance abuse treatment helps people develop the social, professional, and emotional skills necessary to maintain recovery.

While long-term rehab can be a great help to anyone struggling with an alcohol abuse or drug addiction problem, there are certain at-risk groups that may need it more than others. If you’ve tried rehab before and been unsuccessful, chances are with a longer program you may have a more positive outcome. Also, if you’ve been using drugs for a long time and really can’t imagine life without them, extended care rehab could greatly help you transition into a drug-free lifestyle. If you’ve been coerced into treatment by the law or some other force, you may not fully realize your problem or be committed to changing. After a longer stay in rehab that could change, and your commitment to living a healthier lifestyle free from substances would have a chance to develop and stick.

Generally, these groups need long-term rehab the most:

  • People who have tried short-term programs and not succeeded
  • Individuals who are addicted to methamphetamine, as the cognitive impairment associated with this drug and recommended treatment period is generally long-term, according to the Illinois Attorney General.
  • People who have abused substances for an extended period of time
  • Individuals who are reluctant to get treatment
  • People with severe dual disorders, whose mental health issues may necessitate more time to treat

Methods of Treatment at Extended Care Rehab Centers

According to the State of Maine Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, the additional services at extended care rehab include:

  • Life skills training
  • Relapse prevention
  • Development of a social network that supports recovery

Therapeutic Communities

One of the most common forms of extended care drug rehab is the therapeutic community. Therapeutic communities (TCs) are hierarchical, community-based drug-free residential settings that follow a treatment model with different stages. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, each stage of the therapeutic community model involves an increased level of personal and social responsibility. Peer influence is a huge part of recovery in a therapeutic community as it is used to keep people accountable, motivated, and to help re-learn effective social skills and norms that will be very important upon leaving treatment. Some individuals in TCs have a history of normal social functioning, skills, and a relatively orderly lifestyle which was eroded by substance abuse, while others have never had such functional lifestyles.

Everyone in a therapeutic community is required to work on maintaining the community and living space as well as on developing vocational skills. This is sometimes referred to as work as therapy and is very helpful in teaching individuals to work with others and to work under others. This is particularly important for people who have a disdain for authority and a distrust of others. Forming bonds through work is indispensable in terms of its benefits for recovering addicts and their futures.

Therapeutic communities are founded on two principles, seeing the community as an agent of change, and seeing self-help as an effective recovery tool. In the communities, individuals are expected to follow certain behavioral norms which are reinforced through rewards and punishments. They help people learn to practice self-control and responsibility. These communities also focus on vocational training and reintegration into society. Individuals who leave TCs after completing treatment successfully do so employed or in school. Research from the University of Auburn shows that TCs are some of the most reputable and studied long-term addiction recovery programs.

Extended care in therapeutic communities and otherwise encourages involvement in 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. Usually people in extended care attend meetings as part of the program and are encouraged to keep doing so after treatment to work on maintaining recovery. In addition, conventional group and one on one therapy is also part of long-term drug addiction treatment.

Difference from Traditional 30- and 90-Day Programs

The National Institute on Drug Abuse recommends treatment lengths of longer than 90 days, claiming that treatment of less than that amount is of limited effectiveness. What extended care addiction treatment does it is gives individuals enough time to put to use the skills they learn while in rehab. During the first 30 days or so of treatment, people in treatment are just getting used to the idea of becoming drug-free. They’ve gone through detox and withdrawal, which likely would have affected the first few days or week of treatment, and have been coming to terms with their addiction. The rest of the time will most likely be spent with therapy and education, but if after 30 days this person is released from treatment, they are unlikely to have had enough time to really soak up what they’ve learned. Especially in cases of severe addiction and long-term use, a short rehab stint may not be enough to affect a lifetime of recovery.

With 90 days in treatment, individuals often learn skills necessary to living a drug-free life, but they may not have enough time to put these skills to work. For example, someone may learn to have an honest relationship, start learning hobbies and skills that don’t involve using substances, but then leave treatment before these practices are actually integrated in their lives. At long-term treatment, people are given the chance to fully integrate into a substance-free lifestyle before leaving the security and comfort of a treatment environment.

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