There is no doubt that the majority of alcoholics and drug addicts need outside help and support in order to live a sober life. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the most common reasons people who needed treatment did not seek help were:
- financial concerns (39 percent)
- not ready to stop using drugs (29 percent)
- fear of a negative opinion from others (18 percent)
- concern it would affect work (17 percent)
Making the decision to enter a rehabilitation treatment program for alcohol or addiction is an important, but often difficult, first step.
Once the choice to enter an inpatient program is made, there are a variety of factors involved. For many, there are financial constraints, logistical issues, and the inability to take time away from daily responsibilities.
Although there is no "quick fix" for alcohol or substance abuse, a short-term program can offer a viable option for many who are seeking treatment to achieve sobriety.
What is "Short-Term" Rehab
Short-term addiction treatment refers to the length of time spent in a rehab program. “Short-term” usually implies a period of 30-days.
Short-term inpatient programs offer residential accommodations while the individual completes a one-month program. There are also short-term outpatient options where an individual lives at home. However, living outside a substance abuse facility allows for greater temptations and distractions that may cause a person to return to using alcohol or drugs.
Inpatient Short-Term Treatment
Residential centers offer advantages, especially for those attempting to make life changes in a brief 30-day period. These benefits include:
- A stable, substance-free sober environment
- Medical and psychiatric monitoring
- Minimal triggers to use drugs or alcohol
- Intensive counseling sessions
- Professional and peer support
A one-month time period can provide a briefer period of intensified treatment. In this condensed form, recovering addicts receive most of the high-quality treatments that are offered in longer programs, but in an abbreviated format. In fact, short-term programs may involve over six hours of treatment per day.
If someone is unsure or doubtful about entering rehabilitation, has family obligations, has concerns about their job, or is under financial constraints, a short-term program is a good place to start. A 30-day program can be more manageable, does not require months of commitment, or force someone to put everything on “hold” for an extended period of time.
Benefits of 30-Day Treatment
Although it may seem that a month-long rehabilitation is too brief to create lasting results, there may actually be advantages for many addicts in choosing this length of time for getting help.
- For individuals who are hesitant about entering any type of treatment facility, a short-term program can be the best option to overcome hesitations in entering treatment
- A 30-day situation allows for necessary medical monitoring and support during detox and withdrawal, which can be one of the most difficult parts of becoming sober
- Short-term in-house recovery provides intense counseling opportunities and access to experienced professionals
- One-month rehab can be more affordable than longer-term treatment and may be covered by health insurance
- A 30-day rehab provides a concentrated program and a change from the environment where the addiction to alcohol or drugs exist
- A setting that is managed by professionals helps remove most of the risks that can jeopardize the recovery
- A well thought out aftercare program can identify resources and steps to help an individual continue their journey to a sober lifestyle
Experiencing 30-Day Treatment
And so, it begins.
Regardless of the length of treatment, there are common components to most rehabilitation programs. They include:
This is a process that requires a physical exam as well as documenting the patient’s medical history, including the substance abuse history. This data will help determine which therapies will be most beneficial in reaching the objectives of recovery.
- Supervised Detoxification
Eliminating the toxic substance of alcohol and drugs in the body is done under close medical care. The effects of withdrawing can be unpleasant and even severe. Therefore, it is essential that trained professionals manage the physical and emotional detox process to ensure a safe and positive outcome during this difficult period
Learning new skills, how to handle triggers, and avoiding relapse are only some of the benefits of individual and group therapy. With peers experiencing similar challenges, a recovering addict can interact with others and gain support.
Preparing to enter back into daily life must be part of the focus in short-term rehabilitation since it is likely that additional counseling will be needed. Aftercare plans can encompass a wide variety of support systems ranging from family therapy to drug testing.
How to Choose the Right Short-Term Program
There are several factors when evaluating short-term drug rehab programs such as:
- As with every type of therapy, there are costs involved for short-term recovery programs. Be sure to understand the cost and payment requirements for the center you choose. If the price is beyond immediate financial means, it is a good idea to ask about payment plans, coverage by insurance, and financial planning.
- Research the experience and credentials of the staff members who will guide the rehabilitation process. Ask if the facility has medical physicians who can prescribe medications in case they are needed. Take the time to find out if the professionals who are treating patients are on-site or contracted by the center.
- Staff-to-Patient Ratio. Personal attention in the form of the patient-to-staff ratio is a vital component of any successful treatment program. The more staff members on the premises for each patient, the more individualized care that can be provided.
- Explore the options such as single rooms, holistic treatment opportunities (yoga, fitness, massage, meditation, etc.), food planning, etc. and whether or not they are included in the cost.
- Success Rate. This is one of the most important factors to take into consideration. Talking to individuals who have completed the short-term program can be beneficial. Although relapse from alcohol and substance abuse is not uncommon, it is important to understand the rate of positive outcomes at the facility you choose. Statistics suggest that 40 to 60 percent of drug addicts will relapse from their plan of treatment, so you want to enter a program with the highest potential for success.
- After Rehab. When the 30-day program concludes, the hard work is often just starting. Confirm that the facility will provide a comprehensive aftercare program that addresses therapy, meetings, encouragement, and support for long-term sobriety.
A Word of Caution
Short term rehab facilities offer a safe environment to detox and address cravings and addictive behaviors. But for some, a 30-day rehab program may not be sufficient to truly benefit from addiction treatment. Some addicts may simply require a longer stay to overcome their dependence or to rebound from a relapse.
A short-term stay may also not be appropriate for those suffering from dual diagnosis, defined as a person who struggles with a substance addiction and a co-occurring mental health issue (depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, etc.). Dual diagnosis affects almost 8 million Americans.  When stacked together, the process of treating two issues at the same time is much more difficult and typically long-term rehabilitation is necessary to fully recover and avoid the risk of relapse.
The National Institutes on Drug Abuse states, "for residential or outpatient treatment, participation for less than 90 days is of limited effectiveness, and treatment lasting significantly longer is recommended for maintaining positive outcomes."
Short-Term Rehab Can Work
However, not every individual is in a situation where long-term treatment is the best decision. The time commitment required for long-term care may not be manageable due to family responsibilities or a demanding career. A short-term treatment program is, therefore, a better choice.
Short-term in-patient rehab centers can work well for people who do not have a complex or deep-rooted addiction. For example, for a person at the beginning stages of an alcohol problem who has not yet become alcohol-dependent, a relatively short treatment time may be an option.
A 30-day residential treatment may also be beneficial for recovering addicts who plan to follow-up the short-term program with another form of treatment, such as an outpatient program or staying in a transitional living facility.
There’s no right or wrong way to achieve lasting recovery. The key is to take the first step and just get started. For many, short-term recovery programs offer a practical and worthwhile stepping stone to a life free of alcohol and drugs.