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Is a Therapeutic Community Right for Me?

According to a study from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “Therapeutic community residential treatment is best suited to patients with a substance dependence diagnosis who also have serious psychosocial adjustment problems and require resocialization in a highly structured setting.” As this treatment option has been known to be extremely beneficial to many individuals, those with multiple issues associated with their substance abuse should consider whether it may be the right option for them.

How Does Treatment at a Therapeutic Community Work?

This type of treatment works by focusing on the “resocialization of the individual and us[ing] the program’s entire community––including other residents, staff, and the social context––as active components of treatment” (National Institute on Drug Abuse). It helps patients see their drug abuse and addiction through a social context and begin to understand the psychological and social deficits in their life. While they are surrounded by others who become part of their treatment, even other patients and volunteers, it helps them begin to understand the problems in their lives and how they may stem from their inability to adjust to others as well as understand themselves.

This treatment option, however, is not easy. It is best attended by those who have attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors associated with their drug abuse that are in extreme need of change. The treatment itself can also be confrontational in order to draw these issues out. The program is also highly structured, ensuring that residents attend all of their classes, sessions, and meetings throughout the day with little free time and strict times for waking up, taking meals, and going to bed. “Planned lengths of stay” for these programs are normally between 6 and 12 months.

According to the NIDA, “Patients in therapeutic communities may include those with relatively long histories of drug addiction, involvement in serious criminal activities, and seriously impaired social functioning,” but there are other types of programs that follow this treatment model. Pregnant women and individuals with young children may also want to receive treatment in a therapeutic community, as well as homeless individuals, adolescents, people with mental disorders, and those in the criminal justice system. People in these groups often have special needs when it comes to treatment, and a therapeutic community can be designed for groups of these types.

Do I Need to Attend a Therapeutic Community?

therapeutic community

Socialization is a key aspect of therapeutic treatment.

Ask yourself the questions below to decide whether you may benefit from treatment in a therapeutic community.

  • Am I a part of one of these groups:
    • Pregnant women or individuals with young children?
    • Adolescents?
    • Homeless individuals?
    • Criminals in the justice system?
    • People with severe mental disorders?
  • Do I feel very isolated from other people?
  • Do my loved ones tell me my attitude toward my drug abuse is dangerous?
  • Will I require constant care and encouragement while in treatment?
  • Do I lack a strong social support system?
  • Do I sometimes feel I have problems understanding others and even myself?

If you answered yes to the questions above, a therapeutic community could be a beneficial treatment option for you. Call 800-481-6320Who Answers? if you or someone you love is addicted to drugs and in need of intensive treatment.

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