Last month, interventionist Sam Davis spent a week with a family in crisis. Their adult son had been to treatment a dozen times, but no matter how many 30-day programs he attended, he couldn’t stay sober. What causes this cycle, and how can families break it? In most cases, the answer is to find a long-term rehab program.
The Origin of the 30-Day Program
“Long-term rehab” refers to treatment lasting several months or more. Typically, these programs take 60 or 90 days, but some may continue for over a year. This approach is backed by scientific findings from governing bodies like the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In contrast, the traditional 30-day approach is based on two things: an outdated model and the preferences of insurance companies.
Many people are surprised to learn that there’s nothing evidence-based about a 30-day length of stay. That policy originates from the “Minnesota model” of treatment: a 1950s approach that sought to liberate alcoholics from locked wards. The idea was to stabilize patients, which doctors reasoned would take four weeks, before allowing them to re-enter society.
From there, in the words of Marvin Ventrell, executive director of NAATP (the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers), “It became the norm because the insurance industry was willing to pay for that period of time.”
While 30 days may be enough for some addicted individuals, Anne Fletcher, author of Inside Rehab, says, “it isn’t the case for most people. It’s like any other chronic disorder; it waxes and wanes.”
Some treatment centers have begun to push back on the 30-day Minnesota model, while others maintain the status quo. Regardless, one thing is certain. In the event that a person has not responded to one or more short-term stays, experts strongly recommend a long-term rehab program.
Why is Long-Term Rehab Necessary?
Time and again, research has shown that long-term treatment is the gold standard of recovery programming. There are multiple reasons for this.
- It takes time to live life on life’s terms. Substance use disorders are chronic conditions—they develop (and worsen) over a period of weeks, months, or years. It takes just as long to establish a substance-free lifestyle. A long-term program provides a distraction-free setting to do just that. Typical areas of focus include the development of a routine, daily self-care activities, and healthier habits like journaling or exercising.
- Healing doesn’t happen overnight. Addiction devastates a person’s physical and mental health. To begin undoing all that damage, a significant time commitment is required.
- Co-occurring disorders need to be treated. Often, substance abuse begins in response to trauma, complicated grief, or mental illness. Therapy can help those in early recovery process these issues, but multiple sessions are needed.
- Companionship encourages program adherence. Peer support is a crucial aspect of recovery. By participating in a long-term rehab program, people can build strong bonds, find camaraderie, and stop isolating themselves the way they did in active addiction.
- Recovery-first environments promote healing all day, every day. On-site care is crucial during the earliest phases of recovery, but it remains essential in the months afterward. Long-term inpatient programs provide 24/7 access to recovery resources, education, and relapse prevention efforts.
If your spouse, child, or parent is still using after multiple 30-day programs, don’t lose hope. To break the cycle, you need to try a new approach. Consider talking to your loved one about the points raised above.
From Intervention to a Long-Term Rehab
Asking someone to go to treatment again is challenging—especially if they’ve participated in multiple programs. They may claim they don’t have time or already know everything the rehab employees will say.
If you need help convincing someone you love to enroll in a long-term rehab program, contact Intervention On Call. Our expert interventionists will work with you to counter potential arguments, clearly express your point, and convey the importance of long-term care. We provide proven tactics to break through your loved one’s denial. Reach out today for more information.