First-Time Drug Rehab Clients
Entering drug addiction rehabilitation for the first time can be daunting. Choosing to enter treatment is the first step in the long process of recovery and understanding the treatment process can help you feel prepared.
Drug addiction is a chronic illness that involves intense cravings for the addictive substance, along with seeking out and using that drug, in spite of negative consequences. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that the chronic drug abuse present in addiction is a result of the drug’s effects on the brain. Illicit drugs affect areas of the brain responsible for reward and motivation, along with impulse control and decision-making. This makes it very difficult to stop using the illicit substance once an addiction has been formed. As a result, an effective treatment plan is an important component of recovery from addiction.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) reports that in 2009, 23.5 million people in the US needed treatment for drug or alcohol addiction. Of those, only 11.2 percent received treatment at a specialized facility. Approximately 41.4 percent of admissions to treatment facilities in 2009 entered treatment for alcohol abuse, while 20 percent entered treatment for drug addiction.
First-time rehab clients may be unsure about various aspects of the process, and the truth is that your chosen rehab center will be able to alleviate many of your concerns. There are, however, a few things to know and expect that are pretty universal across all facilities.
When packing for a residential program, only a few sets of clothing are typically required. Laundry facilities are usually available on site. Clothing should be modest and comfortable. Most facilities require that clothing be free of any inappropriate images or logos, such as drug paraphernalia, drug-related phrases, or offensive expressions. You will also need basic toiletries and any personal items you wish to have with you, such as a journal, books, or family photos. Most facilities will provide a list of recommended items to pack as well as a list of items that should not be brought to rehab. Policies on electronics vary, but smartphones and laptops are typically not allowed.
An average day in drug rehab will involve individual therapy, group therapy, and group recreational activities. Residential programs typically have both private and shared rooms available; most people who enter rehab share a room with other people who are also in treatment. Meals are often shared in a cafeteria, restaurant, or other dining facility.
While in rehab, you will interact with many different staff members, ranging from technicians to therapists to medical nurses and doctors. In addition, various staff members will lead and assist in therapy; this includes individual therapists as well as focused therapists, such as those who specialize in equine-assisted therapy, art therapy, or adventure therapy.
According to Substance Abuse Treatment for Persons with Co-Occurring Disorders the average client-to-staff ratio of outpatient rehab programs can range from 15:1 to 25:1. Residential programs typically have a much lower ratio, averaging one client for every three members of staff during day shifts. High-end, private programs generally offer the best staff-to-client ratios, offering the most individualized forms of care.
Visitors to residential programs are often only allowed on specific days of the week, and individuals may have to be a close family member to be allowed to visit. Visitation often needs to be approved ahead of time by your therapist. Phone calls are typically allowed during specific times of day. These limitations are in place to help clients focus on recovery and build healthy relationships within rehab.
Inpatient vs. Outpatient
Drug rehab may be provided in an inpatient or residential setting, or on an outpatient basis. Long-term residential programs typically last 3-12 months. According to NIDA, these programs provide 24-hour care and incorporate a community approach into treatment. The residential setting is used to help develop healthy social skills and behaviors, and the controlled, drug-free environment is helpful in establishing a sober lifestyle.
Short-term residential programs may last weeks or months, and incorporate many of the same aspects on an accelerated timeline. It is typically recommended that residential treatment be followed by outpatient treatment, and time spent in treatment be gradually reduced as the individual improves.
Outpatient treatment can provide many of the same services as residential treatment, including individual and group therapy. Outpatient treatment can be more appropriate for individuals with a stronger support system outside of the treatment facility and those who can’t take a leave of absence from work, or family life, to focus on treatment fulltime.
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