In addiction recovery, some treatment is always preferable to none. However, longer treatment times often lead to better outcomes. While many rehab programs last between just one and three months, others span six months or even one full year.
Long term rehab is highly recommended for people who’ve relapsed multiple times in the past. It’s also an excellent choice for those who have lengthy histories of using highly addictive substances and those with other risk factors for relapse. Long term rehab gives recovering addicts ample opportunity to develop healthy coping skills, increase their distress tolerance, and develop safe, sustainable lifestyles.
More importantly, it ensures that people have solid relapse prevention plans and the benefit of other evidence-based relapse protection techniques. Relapse is common among newly recovered addicts. In fact, it’s so common that it’s considered a normal part of the recovery process. Relapse protection prepares people for the challenges of reentering the outside world by helping them identify the many stressors, temptations, and other triggers that they’re likely to face.
Long term rehab facilities equip each patient with multi-pronged and needs-specific strategies for staying on course. This starts with educating patients on the different phases of relapse, identifying the best post-treatment support tools, and addressing all co-occurring disorders among other things.
What Are the Different Phases of Relapse?
For many people, the best form of relapse protection is simply understanding what relapse is. Although a full-blown return to alcohol or substance use certainly constitutes relapse, relapse itself starts long before this actually occurs. In fact, relapse typically occurs in three distinct phases known as:
- Emotional relapse
- Mental relapse
- Physical relapse
When people in recovery experience persistent feelings of depression, anxiety, or general discontent, they’re often entering emotional relapse. They may begin distancing themselves from others, limiting their participation in post-treatment support groups, and changing their lifestyles in other ways.
During mental relapse, it is not uncommon to daydream about using drugs or alcohol, make plans to get substances, and even start bargaining with yourself about how substances will be used. Many people promise to only use drugs or alcohol just one time or in a limited, controlled capacity.
After weeks or months of abstaining, and after a person’s physical tolerance levels have greatly declined, the physical return to substance use poses a significant risk of overdose. By teaching patients about the different phases of relapse, long term rehab centers stress the importance of seeking help long before physical relapse is reached. Getting the right interventions during mental or emotional relapse can make it infinitely easier for people to turn their course.
Co-Occurring Disorders and Psycho-Education
Co-occurring disorders are incredibly common among people who struggle with drug or alcohol addiction. These are mental health issues that occur simultaneously with addiction. They include:
- Bipolar disorder
- General anxiety disorder
- Panic disorder
- Major depressive disorder
More often than not, people with active, untreated addictions have yet to have their co-occurring disorders diagnosed and properly managed. Moreover, they often abuse substances as a way of self-treating the mental and emotional anguish they feel. Receiving dual diagnosis treatment during long term rehab eliminates this major risk factor for relapse.
However, receiving treatment for a co-occurring disorder while in rehab isn’t enough to prevent this all-too-common relapse risk from causing problems going forward. When co-occurring disorder treatments work, many people eventually feel better and stop taking prescribed medications, attending ongoing therapy, or taking other essential steps to keep their symptoms at bay. Sometimes people voluntarily discontinue their co-occurring disorder treatments because they feel confident in their abilities to maintain mood balance on their own.
As part of their relapse protection services, many long term rehab facilities offer psycho-education. This goes hand-in-hand with various psychotherapies by providing information on the importance of continuing care. People learn how abruptly stopping prescribed treatments for co-occurring mental health issues affects their brain chemistry, their mental and emotional well-being, and their general health. They also learn more about their options for having prescribed treatments modified when the efficacy of current methods appears to decline.
Long-Term Life Planning
Addiction diminishes the overall life-quality of people who live with it in numerous ways. When people heavily abuse drugs, they often:
- Lose many of their meaningful relationships
- Lose custody of minor children
- Experience housing loss and job loss
- Face overwhelming legal issues
Although rehab is largely focused on helping people reclaim their physical and mental wellness, rehab professionals also recognize that joblessness, homelessness, and other stressful circumstances rank among the top risk factors for relapse. Thus, in long term rehab, people have the chance to learn more about local resources that will help them proactively resolve these and other problems.
They can find options in career training, look for job opportunities, and find sustainable housing. From helping patients transition into sober living facilities and halfway houses to helping them apply for various form of public assistance and other support, long term rehab programs ensure that patients exiting treatment have access to stable, sustainable lifestyles.
Relapse protection techniques in long term rehab can also be medication-based. The most effective rehab programs always take a targeted and individualized approach to identifying and mitigating the unique risk factors that each person faces. If you want to find out more about about relapse protection or if you need help finding a long term rehab, call us at 844-639-8371 today.