About Residential Drug Rehabs

By Hannah Rice Myers

It is estimated that over 19 million Americans suffer from a drug or alcohol addiction. Many of these 19 million people ay have lost their jobs, their homes and their families due to their drug and/or alcohol abuse. There are some drug addicts who have lost even more than this–over 9,000 have lost their lives in the past year. Residential drug rehabilitation centers are a means to an end of these statistics.


The first drug rehabilitation program of any kind was Alcoholics Anonymous, formed on June 10, 1935, when its co-founder, Dr. Bob Smith, took his last drink of alcohol. Having been a long-time alcoholic, he formed AA with Bill Harris, who had also suffered for many years from this disease. They used a combination of the spiritual teachings provided by an Oxford group by the name of The Christian Evangelical Organization, and the principles of Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist. Using the spiritual approach provided be the Oxford Group, Bill Harris was able to share his own experiences with alcohol addiction with others experiencing the same problem. In 1938, Harris and Smith created the 12 step program, which is an integral component of the Alcoholics Anonymous program. Their principals are the basis for addiction treatment today.


Residential drug rehabilitation programs allow the addict time to detoxify their bodies from the drugs they used, while providing treatment of the addiction itself through individual and group therapy. The average time spent in a residential program is 45 to 60 days, depending upon the nature and severity of the addiction. They are a voluntary program, meaning that addicts can sign themselves in and out on their own. Parents can also sign their children in if they feel that their addiction is uncontrollable. In Florida, the Baker Act has allowed the court systems to mandate a drug addict be placed in a residential drug rehab center when they feel it is warranted. The average cost of a 45-day residential program is $23,000 plus the cost of the medical care provided by the physician and any medications prescribed. In some cases, a scholarship is available to cover a part of the cost, and some insurance companies may cover the cost as well.


Residential drug rehab centers provide 24 hour medical supervision of the addict, especially while they go through the withdrawals during detox. Physicians and nurses carefully monitor the addict to provide emotional support and to help ease their withdrawal symptoms with medication. This constant monitoring gives the medical team the ability to adjust the patient’s plan of treatment accordingly. Once patients have successfully detoxed, they are mentally and physically prepared to begin the therapeutic treatment offered by the residential program. This includes individual and group therapy sessions with those who are experiencing the same difficulties with addiction and who may have experienced the same losses. Since it is communal living, the patient is able to interact regularly with other addicts, providing a positive system of support for them when they feel as though they can’t make it through the program.


Residential drug rehab centers offer the addict an opportunity to remove themselves from the environment which may have caused the addiction in the first place. By removing the temptations and stress factors that surround them outside of the residential center, they are capable of concentrating solely on recovering from their addiction. The therapy they receive allows them to get to the heart of their addiction and to develop ways of preventing the same addictive behaviors once they are released. Many centers also offers holistic treatments, such as the use of Chinese herbs that decrease the cravings for drugs and alcohol, and the use of scented oils to help relax the patient when moments of stress arise. While each person has their own, individualized treatment plan, they participate in the development of their plan with the help of an on-site counselor. Upon leaving, they are given a treatment plan that will aid them once they are back in their environment. Some may be referred to an outpatient program to continue their therapy, while others are sent to participate in a 12 step program. In cases where the addiction is more severe, the patient may be placed in a case management program, meaning they report periodically to their counselor at the residential center to monitor their progress.


Many addicts who consider signing in to a residential drug rehab, or who are doing so at the prompting of their family, suffer misconceptions about the residential center itself. They are unable to understand the why’s and how’s of the rehabilitation program because the drug still has control over them and they do not yet understand their addiction. Some feel that their families are embarrassed by them and place them in a residential center as a means of hiding them away. Some feel that they are being punished and that their need for rehabilitation is bad. Many also believe that their treatment will consist only of medications. They do not realize the extensive forms of treatment a residential drug rehab will offer them.