Inpatient, or residential, treatment is a well-known approach to addiction treatment, and it involves a patient being treated in a residential environment.

In this environment, residents will undergo a more laid-back, relaxed treatment program.

The general length of residential treatment is long-term and can range anywhere from 30 days or less up to over 90 days (for more severe addictions).

Residential treatment is best suited for those who have a psychological addiction and require long-term, low-intensity treatment but do not have a stable living condition.

Commonly referring to the long periods of time that a patient stays on-site during treatment, the use of the term “residential treatment” is commonly mistaken for “inpatient treatment.”

Though residential treatment is a form of inpatient treatment, the difference between them is the fact that residential treatment programs explore the psychological reasoning and roots behind a patient’s addiction.

Other inpatient treatment programs generally take place in drug rehab centers and hospitals as opposed to a residence, and they focus more on treating physical dependence and addiction.


Why Residential Treatment?

When considering residential treatment, a common question that pops into someone’s head is, “Is it really necessary?”

In fact, the necessity of professional treatment is a hotly debated topic in today’s society. Many people that recognize that they have a substance abuse disorder do not believe that undergoing full treatment is necessary and that detox is more than enough to treat their addiction.

By going “cold turkey,” someone struggling with addiction will cease all substance intake to avoid going through medically-supervised detox.

Although it may be effective in cleaning substance residue and toxins from the body, quitting a substance cold turkey does not count as recovery and does little to nothing in treating the psychological factors behind addiction.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) NCBI that while medical detoxification serves a vital role in addressing the acute physical symptoms of substance withdrawal, by itself, it does little to change long-term drug use.

Quitting cold turkey is not only ineffective but also can lead to serious withdrawal symptoms. Convulsions, sweating, seizures, nausea, and agitation are all common withdrawal symptoms that many people will experience during cold turkey withdrawal symptoms.

Not only are they uncomfortable, but things such as seizures can sometimes prove to be fatal, so seeking the correct medical detox program is essential to retaining a patient’s health.

Another risk associated with quitting cold turkey is that the body will quickly lose tolerance for alcohol and drugs. If someone relapses and takes their usual amount of a substance, they can put themselves at a greater risk for overdose, according to Verywell Mind.

With certain substances, an overdose could mean permanent damage and death.

As the first step in recovery, medical detox is one of the most difficult and intensive steps in the path toward recovery. The success of detox directly correlates to the success of overall treatment. Clients that complete detox have a much higher rate of success than those who do not.

Make no mistake, however, completion of medical detox does not mean recovery is over.

While detox completion is a significant step, without further treatment, the effect is like cutting a weed and ignoring it: it will simply grow back if the root is not addressed.

This is where residential treatment comes in.


The first step in nearly every addiction treatment program is medical detox. Why is detox so necessary?

Medical detoxification is defined as the cessation (tapered or immediate) of a substance in an attempt to remove any residue or toxins built up from past abuse and addiction. The point of this toxin removal is to ensure that the body’s different organs such as the lungs and liver are working without any hindrance. By having a sober body throughout drug treatment, each individual organ can focus solely on recovery without the interference of a substance’s effects.

Detox can be very difficult for many people, and to encounter withdrawal symptoms is not uncommon. Depending on the severity of past addiction, withdrawal symptoms can range anywhere from mild insomnia to life-threatening seizures.

When someone undergoes a medically-supervised detox, they are monitored 24-7, and a team of doctors and nurses ensure that proper steps are taken to counter the withdrawal symptoms that occur.

This is to ensure that the overall detox experience is as comfortable for the patient as possible.

If a patient is not medically supervised while going through detox, the withdrawal symptoms can easily lead to relapse and the development of another addiction.

Residential Treatment and Relapse Prevention

Relapse prevention is the aim of any reputable drug treatment program. In many cases, however, relapse or succumbing to substance reuse and addiction is inevitable. Why? Because that is the nature of substance addiction.

The very nature of addiction means that relapse is probable.

In fact, the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) defines addiction as “a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory, and related circuitry.” ASAM extends this definition to include the likely hallmarks of addiction, which it describes as the inability to consistently abstain from use, the exercise of poor behavioral control, having persistent cravings, exemplifying a diminished recognition of behavior and poor interpersonal relationships. ASAM also adds that displaying a dysfunctional emotional response is also a sign of addiction.

Relapse occurs to a larger population than you would think.

The relapse rate for people treated for substance addiction is between 40 to 60 percent, according to NIDA. That rate is comparable to people who are treated for medical conditions such as asthma and hypertension.

Relapse is stigmatized because many view it as a failure. A person in recovery has effectively taken “two steps back” due to a relapse episode.

To doctors and those providing you with medical supervision, however, relapse can be beneficial in determining the cause of previous addiction and ultimately may help in preventing future relapse and staying sober after treatment.

SMART Recovery® asserts that relapse can be a “stepping stone” or another step toward eventual recovery.

“Many people relapse, and if you think of each attempt at sobriety as a means of getting closer to your end goal—a stage in your cumulative recovery, so to speak—your relapse won’t be in vain,” states SMART Recovery®.

It is important to remember that just because relapse can sometimes benefit from the identification of the reason behind someone’s addiction, it should never be viewed as acceptable. The end goal is to avoid relapse.

The Following List Consists of Tips to Help Someone in Recovery Avoid Relapse:

  • Making friends with those that have been successful in their recovery process can be beneficial. A person who underwent successful treatment can have useful tips and advice to help make your recovery easier. Simply being around someone who is successful in recovery can influence you to make beneficial decisions.
  • Though it is generally encouraged, distracting yourself from your withdrawal symptoms can sometimes negatively affect your recovery as a whole. Many people will overwork themselves in an attempt to ignore their withdrawals. Doing so can lead that person to become a workaholic. To best avoid this, you must remain vigilant in noticing your behavioral patterns in response to the addiction. If you find yourself often preoccupied, you should consider taking a break from your work.
  • On the subject of overworking, you should always remember that recovery is a process to be appreciated and enjoyed. If your residential treatment feels more like a punishment than a residence, you should consider talking to your case manager or even seeking an entirely new facility. The patient’s comfort and happiness is the main factor in determining whether or not treatment is a success, and a happier resident is a successful one.

What to Expect from Residential Treatment Programs

Effective residential treatment programs use clinically-proven methods to treat substance abuse and addiction. Therapy models such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and Motivational Interviewing (MI) are three of the most popular and commonly used methods in residential treatment programs. In these activities, both doctors and patients interact with one another and explore the psychological reasons behind the patient’s addiction.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

According to NIDA, Cognitive Behavioral Theory (CBT) is based on the idea that in the development of a substance abuse pattern, learning processes play a pivotal role.

Thus, individuals in CBT learn to identify and address problematic behaviors related to substance abuse “by applying a range of different skills that can be used to stop drug abuse and to address a range of other problems that often co-occur with it,” states NIDA.

CBT is one of the more successful, well-established methods of treating mental disorders and illnesses, substance addiction included.

Originally used to treat depression, CBT has undergone multiple studies which demonstrate that it can be used to treat other mental health disorders such as anxiety, PTSD, addiction, and personality disorders.

When used in conjunction with expertly-administered medications such as benzodiazepines, it can treat obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD), severe depression, opioid addiction, bipolar disorder, and many more physiological disorders.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical behavioral therapy is a branch of cognitive behavioral therapy, and thus shares many of the same methods and traits. According to PsychCentral, DBT was developed to better treat borderline personality disorder (BPD)

In the context of addiction, DBT aims to help patients achieve self-acceptance while also accepting the need for change, according to a report from The Fix.

The four modules of DBT include distress tolerance, mindfulness, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.

Both of them are referred to as talk therapy, but DBT follows a much more laid back structure and focuses on the social aspects of addiction as opposed to CBT, which focuses on why and how certain emotions interact with one another in a certain way.

While it may not be as widely used as cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is still commonly used.

Effective in treating personality disorders, DBT has been proven to be effective in treating negative behavioral patterns such as self-harm, suicidal thoughts, substance abuse, anger management, and other behavioral disorders.

Motivational Interviewing

First referenced in 1983, the idea of Motivational Interviewing (MI) was first proposed by Dr. William R. Miller in an article in Behavioral Psychotherapy.

Titled “Motivational Interviewing with Problem Drinkers,” the article challenges the traditional idea at the time: that the motivation for problem drinkers is attributed almost entirely to the individual’s personality.

Motivational interviewing asserts that a therapist, through certain tone, word choice, and speaking style, can influence someone suffering from alcoholism to make behavioral changes.

Through the resolution of ambivalence (known commonly as “mixed feelings”), motivational interviewing can help someone personally identify the downsides of abusing a substance. Through MI, someone in recovery can consider the cons of addiction versus the pros.

Why Choose Residential Treatment at Arete Recovery?

Drug addiction is dangerous. if left unchecked, it can severely affect a person’s life and those of their loved ones. Early detection is crucial, and if you or someone you know suffers from an addiction, it is essential that you seek help immediately.

At Arete Recovery, we treat every case as its own.

There is no room for shortcuts when it comes to addiction treatment. Cookie-cutter approaches for substance addictions can do more harm to a client than good.

Our team of professional doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, and case managers will create a plan for you on day one and will gladly provide any resource or support you may need while in recovery.

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