It is of vital importance to remember that choosing the right type of treatment should always be based on the clinical needs of the individual patient, and not on what the addict perceives to be most convenient.
There are individuals who are well suited to outpatient treatment programs. Outpatient treatment is an intensive process which can act as an alternative to inpatient treatment. These programs are only suitable, however, if the individual is highly motivated and is prepared to take responsibility for his or her own journey through the recovery process. A great deal of willingness and maturity is required on the part of the addict, who must be open and honest regarding the internal dysfunctions which need to be addressed. However, this option can be a good alternative for financially restricted individuals or for those who need to remain engaged in their day to day responsibilities. Outpatient programs are not designed to allow patients to hide their problem from people in their family and work environments. In fact, these programs work best with the on-going support of such people.
Weekly individual counselling sessions are generally an inadequate response to significant dependence problems, but may be beneficial to patients with a periodic-binge pattern. For someone in the throes of a continuing and deeply rooted addiction, while perhaps sufficient to appease family and work colleagues, this course of action tends to be wholly ineffective.
Inpatient treatment programs generally operate in the context of a therapeutic community, and offer the patient an opportunity to block out distractions and focus on the healing process on a deep and meaningful level. This allows the patient to reclaim sanity and a sound, structured way of being.
The inpatient environment also provides the addict with a level of external control, guidance and regulation. This assists in kick-starting the process of moving beyond unhelpful influences in their immediate lifestyle, and also makes detoxification easier, under the supervision of qualified medical personnel. The individual is free to make constructive choices regarding their lifestyle from a distance, which offers new insight and perspective.
Strong external control while in an inpatient program does not exclude the internal development of the individual. Each patient is encouraged to take on responsibility and to exercise independence. People who are unable to do this may benefit from a more long-term inpatient program (in a “boot-camp” environment, for instance), with a focus on behaviour modification rather than psychotherapeutic processes.
Selecting a treatment centre for a luxurious setting and spa-like treatment is an extremely unproductive motivation when deciding on a rehabilitation facility. Going out of town is generally unhelpful in the long run because the opportunity is lost to rebuild relationships while in treatment, and to engage with the much-needed recovery network in the patient’s home town. This makes it far more difficult to actively integrate into and maintain a culture of recovery upon completion of the treatment program.
Treatment centres also subscribe to various viewpoints regarding addiction and recovery. Some are primarily based in religion, which can be met with antagonism from addicts who hold a cynical attitude towards organised religions. Research has shown that the most successful treatment centres are those who make use of a multidisciplinary team of professionals, and are guided by the principles of a 12 step program. The spirituality advocated by a 12 step program is often found to be more neutral and easily accessible to patients in recovery.