Substance abuse treatment is the only real option for many people addicted to alcohol or drugs. Treatment can be done on an inpatient or outpatient basis and there are advantages and disadvantages to both types of treatment. Some programs are restricted to alcohol or other drugs, while other programs incorporate both alcohol and drugs into the same program.
Inpatient substance abuse treatment is more intense than the outpatient programs. The inpatient program can last for 30 days or can extend indefinitely, depending on the funding of the patient. People live in a confined setting and are monitored for detoxification. They are often prevented from leaving the program and they attend group and individual therapy during the day. They may have recreational programs but these are not part of the actual treatment. Inpatients work hard on their issues and try to find out the underlying problems that have contributed to their substance use. If they graduate from this type of program, they often go to outpatient therapy, AA or NA programs.
Outpatient substance abuse treatment is appropriate for those who don’t expect to have any problems with detoxification and who have a strong family support. Many outpatient programs are day programs, with the bulk of the day spent in various group therapies, family therapies and sometimes individual therapies. AA or NA is often part of outpatient programs and the individual is encouraged to find a sponsor. Outpatient programs can last for up to a month as well but it depends on the program and the funding of the abuser.
Some substance abuse treatment is directed solely at those addicted to alcohol. Issues around detoxification are addressed and medication can be prescribed which lowers ones risk of drinking again. There are even medications that control the urge to drink. Alcoholics can come together to discuss issues related to their alcohol use and are encouraged to attend AA and find a sponsor. Many patients are asked to attend alcohol treatment by a judge after they were arrested for a DWI or DUI. A court ordered alcohol treatment doesn’t share the same success as voluntary treatment.
There are some who believe that narcotic substance abuse treatment should be separate from alcohol treatment because the issues are so different. Narcotic users can be given medication to help with cravings. Users of other drugs have their own issues with withdrawal and learning to stay away from drugs. Those who use drugs, particularly narcotics, can transition into NA as an outpatient to get as much support for staying clean as possible.
The goals of substance abuse treatment are (1) the detoxification of the patient from their drugs of choice, (2) managing withdrawal symptoms, (3) learning new coping methods around drug abuse and (4) reintegrating into society without drugs. If the person doesn’t have a stable living situation or has a lot of friends who use and abuse drugs or alcohol, it will be more difficult for the individual to recover completely from substance abuse. This is why inpatient therapy is sometimes better for those who don’t have the family or other support they need.