Maybe you’ve known you need treatment for a while but didn’t want to face reality. Maybe your family has been urging you to seek help and you need a little more information to finally make a decision. Maybe you have a friend who’s embarking on a recovery journey and you want to better understand what they’re going through. Or maybe you have completely different reasons for wanting to learn about the basics of an alcoholism treatment program.
Whatever your reason for finding this post, we’ve got all the pertinent information to help you become well-versed in the fundamentals of alcohol treatment. We’ve split this post into different sections. The first covers the basics of what a substance use disorder can look like as well as the fundamental definition of a treatment program. The second section dives deeper into more detail about what those programs often look like. Then, we’ll cover other general questions people tend to have about alcohol treatment programs: How much they cost, how long they last, where they take place, and how successful they are.
If those are questions you’ve ever wondered about alcoholism treatment programs, then read on for all your answers.
First Things First: A Definition
An alcoholism treatment program is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. When someone’s alcohol use starts causing problems in their lives, it’s time to look into an alcoholism treatment program. They might have a substance use disorder. Here are some of the signs to watch out for, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
- Drinking for a longer time or drinking more alcohol than you had intended to
- Not being able to follow through with attempts to cut down on drinking
- Spending too much time on drinking or being sick from drinking
- Having intense urges to drink
- Neglecting your responsibilities (family, work, school, etc.) due to drinking and its aftereffects
- Continuing to drink despite recognizing that your drinking causes issues with your friends or family
- Choosing drinking instead of activities that were important, interesting, or fun to you
- Finding yourself in risky or dangerous situations several times during or after drinking
- Continuing to drink in spite of knowing that it was negatively impacting your physical or mental health
- Experiencing a memory blackout
- Having to consume significantly more alcohol than you used to to get the same effect
- Having withdrawal symptoms as the effects of alcohol wear off. These symptoms can be physical, like insomnia, restlessness, nausea, sweating, and shakiness. Withdrawal symptoms can also be mental, like increased anxiety, irritability, depression, or sensing things that aren’t there.
An alcoholism treatment program strives to help you get your life back on track through alleviating these symptoms. The best alcoholism treatment programs also aim to treat any co-occurring conditions in their clients. Oftentimes, people turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with other mental health conditions, so it’s important to make sure those are under control as well as their addiction.
The most important part of any alcoholism treatment program is that it’s tailored toward exactly what you need. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach that’s going to work for everybody. The medical professionals at an alcohol rehabilitation center are trained to personalize their approach based on the unique needs of each patient.
The Steps in a Treatment Program
Like other kinds of addiction treatment, an alcoholism treatment program is going to have different parts of the process. First, you’ll detox. How intense and difficult the detox phase is will depend on the amount you’ve been drinking and how long you’ve been drinking heavily. Detox is often best done at an alcohol rehabilitation center. That way, trained professionals can monitor you while you’re experiencing withdrawal symptoms. They’ll take care of you and make sure none of your symptoms get out of hand.
The other steps will vary widely between different alcoholism treatment programs. You’ll probably have some kind of therapy, whether that’s group, family, individual, or a mixture. The kind of therapy is one of the main ways in which different alcoholism treatment programs differ from each other. Some offer more traditional kinds of talk therapy, while others are more willing to branch out into experiential therapies, like equine, art, or music therapy.
How much does an alcoholism treatment program cost?
It’s impossible to give you a simple answer to this question. Lots of different factors affect the cost of an alcoholism treatment program. We cover a lot of those different factors in the other sections of this post — length and type of program are the two major ones. Another big factor that we don’t discuss elsewhere, though, is the geographic location of your alcoholism treatment program.
It’s true that no matter where you are, treatment for substance use disorders is often expensive. However, if you have insurance, it might cover the cost of an alcoholism treatment program, or at least a good chunk of it. It’s definitely worth looking into if you’re worried about the cost.
There are also state-funded alcoholism treatment programs that you might qualify for if you can’t pay for your treatment in any other way. This type of alcohol rehabilitation center is paid for by the government. At these facilities, treatment is free for those who meet the eligibility requirements. You’ll have to check with the state you live in for the specific rules as well as how much funding an alcohol rehabilitation center can get from the government. Therefore, it also follows that the quality of these facilities varies from state to state.
The bottom line is that alcohol rehabilitation centers want to make sure you get the help you need, and cost shouldn’t stop you from getting sober. You might have to get on a waitlist for a state-funded alcohol rehabilitation center, but they’re there to be more accessible for people who can’t afford a private facility. Those can be very expensive.
How long do these programs last?
The duration of your participation in an alcoholism treatment program is going to vary greatly depending on the type of treatment you’re seeking and the policies at your specific alcohol rehabilitation center. Typically, an inpatient program lasts for about a month. However, different alcohol rehabilitation centers will vary. How long they recommend you stay will also depend on your specific circumstances. Some will keep you for a long time — some types of treatment methodologies last several months.
When we’re talking about the length of treatment beyond just an inpatient alcoholism treatment program, it’s also important to look at what kinds of aftercare are in place. Your recovery will last a lot longer than your initial treatment program. There are all kinds of ways that you can receive support after your stay at an inpatient alcohol rehabilitation center: Support groups, outpatient therapy, sober living situations, etc. It’s a big red flag if the facility you’re considering is promising to “cure” you in 28 days. The medical professionals in charge of your care should have a clear plan for what happens after you leave their walls.
What are the different types of alcohol treatment programs?
Most people are at least a little familiar with 12-Step programs. That’s definitely one of the most popular types of alcoholism treatment programs. While these programs have a long history of helping people, they also don’t work for everyone. The most common issue people run into with 12-Step programs is the reliance on submitting to a higher power. That doesn’t always sit right with non-religious folks. Now, it’s definitely possible to find a secular 12-Step program, but it still isn’t the right kind of alcoholism treatment program for everybody.
That’s why there are other types out there. We touched on the fact that there are different types of therapeutic techniques and philosophies in the section about the different steps in the treatment process.
Different Treatment Settings
Part of differentiating the types of alcoholism treatment programs is pointing out the different places where those programs take place. As such, in this section, we’ll dive into the different settings in which you can find an alcoholism treatment program. There are inpatient alcohol rehabilitation centers, which is probably the first type that comes to mind. An inpatient alcohol rehabilitation center houses its clients for a period of time, usually a month or more. As we already stated, these tend to be well suited to the detoxification phase of recovery.
There are also outpatient options to treat substance use disorders. These types of programs vary a lot, but they typically only take a few hours a week, and the client doesn’t spend the night at an alcohol rehabilitation center. These sorts of settings can be great for people who have a less severe addiction and also need to keep working while they start recovery. It can also be a useful way to receive ongoing treatment after you complete an initial inpatient program.
How successful are alcoholism treatment programs?
It’s actually quite difficult to pin down success rates for alcoholism treatment programs. The concept of a successful treatment might sound like a pretty easy thing to define, but it’s actually not that straightforward.
Different alcohol rehabilitation centers measure success in different ways. Some look at the percentage of people who finish their initial course of treatment, while others keep track of how many graduates of their program remain sober for a certain amount of time. Therefore, it’s important to know what statistics the different programs you’re considering are using. You need to compare the same kinds of numbers to get an accurate idea of how different programs measure up.
The other thing to keep in mind is that relapses are quite common among people who have “successfully” completed an initial stay at an alcohol rehabilitation center. Depending on how a particular facility defines success in their statistics, a relapse and then ultimate recovery might show up or might get completely buried or skewed.
This is all to say that when you’re determining the worth of an alcohol rehabilitation center, you need to take more things into consideration, not just the success rate. Often, the staff’s ability to answer your questions is a better indicator of the program’s quality. Do they believe in individualized treatment plans? What kinds of treatment modalities do they utilize? What kinds of accreditations does the alcohol rehabilitation center have, and what kinds of credentials do the staff hold? These questions are all going to give you a clearer picture of how well the facility functions.
If you’re really stuck on the success rate part of the equation, though, know that this is a really difficult business. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, around one-third of those who participate in an alcoholism treatment program don’t have any further symptoms a year after they complete their program, and lots of others report fewer alcohol-related issues in the same time frame.
Now you know the basics of an alcoholism treatment program.
Substance use disorders can be really scary, isolating, and intimidating. Having more information about your treatment options can spur you to make the decision to get help. And if you’re here looking for information about treatment programs for a loved one, you should now be able to help them with their decisions.
From the basics of what a substance use disorder is to the fundamentals of the treatment process, we’ve covered most of the foundations. We also endeavored to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about the basics of this type of treatment. And while we think we’ve been pretty thorough here, there’s always more to learn.
If you’re interested in one of our programs here at Harris House, you can reach out to us here. We tried to cover all the basics about alcohol treatment programs in this piece, but we couldn’t possibly answer every potential question you might have in a single blog post. We offer a variety of programs to help people reach lasting sobriety. You can learn more about our different programs here.