This is the fourth and final installment in the series examining the 20 research facts about addiction rehabilitation published by Addiction Today, the National Addiction Centre and eATA. This final set of five facts breaks down the fundamentals of a successful rehab clinic. It weighs the comparative benefits of daycare, residential programs and aftercare, and offers insight into determining the role that medication, staff-client rapport and organization play in recovery.
These are the last five research facts about drug and alcohol rehab:
16. Residential and Daytime Programs Both Have Their Place
For those seeking alcohol rehabilitation, a primary consideration is whether to enroll in a daycare program or a full-time residential program. In the most severe cases of alcohol dependence, holding down a job becomes next to impossible. In this case, enrolling in a residential program is an obvious choice. Meanwhile, those with less severe problems may be tempted to enroll in a part-time rehabilitation program to avoid taking a leave from work.
Full-time rehab is especially recommended for those suffering from the following complications:
- Social isolation
- Unsupportive home situations
- Psychiatric illness
- Severe personality disorders
- Severe drug or alcohol dependency
Admitting to the world that they have a problem can be humiliating, which is another reason problem drinkers prefer to enroll in a program that lets them go on with daily life. Even so, evidence suggests that a residential program brings about more significant results. This is especially true if a previous round of daycare-oriented rehab was unsuccessful.
Opposite this, a daycare program can supply exactly what is needed after a round of intensive full-time alcohol rehab. In this case, part-time support serves to extend the benefits of rehab over a longer period of time.
17. Medication Can Make a Difference
Pharmaceuticals have been shown to accomplish relatively little in the way of recovery when used by themselves. However, medication can be highly beneficial as an adjunct to treatment. For alcoholics, disulfiram is a particularly well-reviewed pharmaceutical. Addiction counselors at alcohol rehabilitation centers may recommend this medication to clients.
Beyond this, clients who are also struggling with psychiatric illness are strongly advised to seek medication in addition to routine dependency counseling. In some cases, the only way that a person can even begin to move toward recovery and sobriety is by first addressing underlying psychiatric problems. Trying to eliminate a drinking problem without getting help with mental illness is next to futile.
18. Aftercare and Self-Help Programs Boost Results
Research suggests that full-time and part-time rehab services are practically worthless without dedicated follow-up. The only way that a client can hope to avoid relapse and continuing implementing strategies developed during rehab is with ongoing professional and family support.
The most successful aftercare programs are offered on a professional basis. It is important for recovering alcoholics to entrust themselves to the care and guidance of trained counselors. Self-help groups, while proven less helpful than professional aftercare, can also play a role. In situations where aftercare is not possible due to logistical or financial reasons, enrollment in a self-help group is highly recommended.
19. Treatment Staff Are Essential
Any well-regarded addiction rehab center will have expert staff on hand. These include professionals in psychiatry and addiction counseling. However, more than this is needed. A high staff:client ratio plays heavily into the favor of recovering alcoholics. It is important that staff members are well trained and closely supervised. They also need to display genuine empathy for their clients.
There is some debate about whether the effectiveness of staff members and attendants depends on their own history with dependence. Some insist that staff-client empathy is only possible where the staff come from a background of addiction, as this is the only way they can truly understand what clients are going through. This aside, some research suggests that the most successful teams are more eclectic than this. Ideally, some staff members will be in recovery; others will have no history of substance abuse.
20. Organizational Standards Make a Difference
Naturally, organization matters. A rehabilitation clinic with poor organizational structure will have a difficult time encouraging their clients to develop and implement long-term sobriety strategies. This may go without saying, but it is corroborated by strong evidence and certainly bears mentioning.
For an idea of what constitutes sound organizational standards, clients can take a look at the Auditing Standards set out by eATA or at QuADS, which was developed jointly by Alcohol Concern and DrugScope.
One of the main points of this study is the importance of comprehensive, flexible treatment that can be tailored to a particular client’s disposition. A program that is sensitive to the client’s background and works to incorporate relevant strategies has a much better chance of producing long-term results.
One of the surest ways to ensure that an alcoholic seeking recovery receives a tailor-made recovery plan is to enroll in an alcohol rehab center that promotes a variety of treatments. Centers that are well-staffed and well-versed in a range of treatment options can achieve better results for their clients.