DO 28-DAY PROGRAMS WORK?
In spite of a relapse rate averaging 90 percent or more, thousands of so-called 28-Day Alcohol Rehabilitation Inpatient Programs continue to flourish in cities and towns across the country.
Many operators of 28-Day Programs privately acknowledge that the stay is too short, but they feel trapped by the limitations placed on them by insurance companies refusing to pay for longer, more effective programs. In fact, many 28-Day Programs encourage patients to stay longer — even if the insurance company won’t pay.
Decades of research and follow-up surveys of drug and alcohol inpatient rehab reveal that reduced relapse rates and improved long-term sobriety are directly tied to the length of time spent in an inpatient rehab setting — regardless of the methods employed during program.
The message is abundantly clear:
The more time an alcoholic spends in rehab, the greater the chances of permanent recovery.
CHOOSING AN INPATIENT ALCOHOL REHAB PROGRAM
The first question to ask about any rehabilitation facility is, “What is your relapse rate?” Most 28-day Programs are reluctant to provide this information, because their relapse rate is often over 90 percent.
People knowledgeable about addiction treatment know that the vast majority of alcoholics need to be in a safe, controlled environment, where they can learn ways of dealing with life without drugs or alcohol.
Bitter experience has proven that at least 60 days, and more if needed, offers the best chance to avoid relapse.
The time is vital because not just the physical aspects of alcohol dependence, but all the emotional and mental elements of addiction need to be addressed, and solved once and for all.
And of course, before you begin rehab, you will need to complete an alcohol detox to reduce or eliminate the physical craving for alcohol. Because of the extreme dangers of alcohol withdrawal, this must be done under medical supervision.
Most people elect a knowledgeable and experienced medical alcohol detox clinic, offering round-the-clock medical supervision and an program individually tailored to your specific metabolic and general health requirements.
FOUR WEEKS ARE OFTEN ACTUALLY TWO WEEKS
One of the major problems with the ubiquitous 28-day — four week — alcohol rehab program is the fact that in reality, it’s really more like two weeks of genuine rehab activity — just the middle two weeks.
The first week or 10 days is generally lost to recovering from your just-completed, arduous, and often exhausting, alcohol detox program.
You’re likely to be a little shaky and anxious, and distracted by all sorts of thoughts and emotions. You’ve just been through a major physically challenging and emotionally draining experience.
At this point, you will have little to bring to the table in terms of listening, learning, and participating in a meaningful and productive way.
After that first week, when you’ve ‘arrived’, so to speak, you can begin to participate and listen in earnest. The next two weeks can be very productive.
NO TIME TO LEARN LIFE-SAVING ‘LIFE SKILLS’
But just when you’re starting to get somewhere, you realize that it’s week four — and you’re expected to go home in a few days! This last week can be completely lost to the turmoil of how that’s going to work. The anxiety surrounding leaving is a new distraction from life-skill lessons you’re supposed to be learning and practicing.
When most people leave a 28-Day program, they often return to the environment that contributed to their addiction. For some months, the person’s brain is going to try to react to stress in the environment in the same way it did before—with alcohol. If you have not learned alternative and effective ways of dealing with this stress without alcohol, it is very difficult not go back to alcohol.
After the typical 28 days in rehab, you’re back in your old stamping grounds, and not properly equipped to deal with old habits, old hangouts, former drinking partners and all the personal problems that started the chronic drinking in the first place.
For most people, it’s going to take a lot more time to dig out all the reasons that led to your their addiction. It’s going to take more than two weeks to come to grips with, and alter, almost every aspect of your their life — from getting up in the morning to going to bed at night, and everything you they do in between: eating, working, communicating, planning, thinking and making decisions in a whole new way — and repairing and re-establishing damaged work and family relationships.
In the short span of two weeks, how could you possibly be expected to erase a lifetime of mistakes, guilt, worry, upset, self-doubt and anger, and possibly years of addiction? It’s called relapse, and it happens more often than not — as much as 980 percent of the time after 28-day programs.
And if it takes even more time to recover your life, isn’t that worth it?
THREE-MONTH — OR AS-LONG-AS-IT-TAKES — PROGRAM SUCCESS
Compared to a 28-day program, which in a practical sense is closer to 14 productive days, a 3-month, 90-day program provides more than 80 productive days. You still lose a lot of focus in the first week, but after 10 solid weeks of progress from week 2 through week 11, the last week is seldom a write-off. You will also have reduced greatly the cravings for alcohol and that alone will greatly increase your chances of staying sober.
The more time spent in rehab, the greater the chances of long-term sobriety and success.
A three-month (90-day) rehab program offers many people a far greater shot at finding and addressing the reasons they became addicted, and learning and practicing the new behavior and thought patterns that help ensure success.
Where the two effective weeks of a 28-day program delivers the hope for permanent sobriety, in reality it seldom does. A 90-day program delivers as much as six or seven times as many productive, life-changing weeks of rehabilitation.
And if you have any history of relapse from earlier rehab programs, particularly short programs like the 28-day program, you are certainly a candidate for a 90-day program, or what we like to call, the as-long-as-it-takes program.
Because if you haven’t got it after three months, if there is even a shred of doubt, then it makes sense to take a little more time. It’s a few days or weeks, versus years of misery and heartbreak.
MEDICAL DETOX FOR ALCOHOL WITHDRAWAL
Withdrawal, called detox, is always going to be required before you begin any rehab program.
Anyone who has become dependent on alcohol through regular abuse requires medical supervision during withdrawal from alcohol. Suddenly stopping after long-term chronic alcohol consumption, without medical care, can be life-threatening as the body tries to recover from the effects of alcohol.
SYMPTOMS OF ALCOHOL DEPENDENCE
Are you physically dependent on alcohol? Alcohol dependency is typified by the following symptoms:
- Strong, daily craving for alcohol
- Continued drinking despite harm or personal injury
- An inability to limit your drinking
- A need to increase the amount of alcohol consumed in order to feel the effects
- Physical illness when you try to stop drinking.
To protect your health, a medically supervised alcohol detox program helps get you through the withdrawal symptoms, which usually begin within 6 to 48 hours after stopping drinking. These can include:
- Loss of appetite
Depending on how much you have been drinking, how long you’ve been drinking, and your personal metabolism, withdrawal can also cause a potentially life-threatening condition called delirium tremens (‘the DTs’).
The symptoms of DTs include:
- Total confusion
- Panic attacks
- Convulsions and Seizures
One in four people withdrawing from alcohol without medical supervision are at risk of life-threatening seizures. These can be controlled during a medical detox using medically proven methods, along with the worst of the physical and emotional discomforts of alcohol withdrawal.
Medical detox sets you up for your transition to an effective alcohol rehab program, one that takes ‘as long as it takes’ to ensure permanent sobriety, your key to recovery and a life free of alcohol dependence.