The Pros and Cons of Being at “Home” During Recovery

The Pros and Cons of Being at “Home” During Recovery

For many people in recovery, “Home is where the help is”

It is sometimes said that “Home is where the heart is.” In the case of individuals dealing with the powerful effects of a substance use disorder, one could restate that adage to “Home is where the help is.”

Like other chronic diseases, addiction can be managed successfully. Treatment for those experiencing substance use disorders must be tough and tenacious in order to hold up under the pull of the lingering addiction because of its disruptive effects on the brain and behavior. To regain control of their lives, users must be guided and encouraged to take the necessary measures.

Because users often leave rehab prematurely, programs should include strategies to engage and keep patients in treatment. The appropriate duration for an individual depends on the type and degree of the patient’s problems and needs. Research indicates that most addicted individuals need at least three months in treatment to significantly reduce or stop their drug use, with the best outcomes occurring when longer durations of treatment are utilized. Recovery from drug addiction is a long-term process frequently requiring multiple layers of treatment.

In addition, a treatment plan must be assessed continually and modified as necessary to ensure that it meets the patient’s changing needs. Varying combinations of services and treatment components may be required during the course of treatment and recovery. In addition to counseling or psychotherapy, a patient may require medication, medical services, family therapy, parenting instruction, vocational rehabilitation or social and legal services. For many patients, a continuing care approach provides the best results, with the treatment intensity varying according to their changing needs.

As part of such a continuing care approach, drug use during treatment must be constantly monitored to ward off the looming threat of relapse. Knowing that drug use is being monitored can be a powerful incentive for substance users and can help them withstand the urge to use. Monitoring also provides an early indication of the likelihood of users’ return to drugs, signaling a possible need to adjust the treatment plan for more effective results.

Because successful outcomes often depend on the users staying in treatment long enough to reap its full benefits, strategies for keeping people in treatment are critical. Whether a patient stays in treatment depends on factors associated with both the individual and the program. Individual factors related to engagement and retention typically include: motivation to change drug-using behavior; degree of support from family and friends; and, frequently, pressure from the criminal justice system, child protection services, employers or family.1

Recovery Works Best When There’s a Supportive Home

Lack of a stable, alcohol- and drug-free living environment can be a serious obstacle to recovery and sustained abstinence. Such surroundings have been found to be a critically important aspect of users’ social network. Recognition of the importance of one’s living environment led to a proliferation of inpatient and residential treatment programs during the 1960s and 70s. The idea was to remove users from destructive living environments that encouraged substance use, and create new social support systems in treatment. Research continues to show today that even the best laid plans and intentions of highly motivated individuals can falter without the right social factors, like a safe living environment.2

What Can Serve as a Suitable Home During Recovery?

  • Long-term Residential Facility – In terms of being a place of help to users, these centers can serve as home for a six to 12 month period, usually in cases of more severe addiction. Typically a non-hospital setting, this treatment approach provides care 24 hours a day. The best-known residential treatment model is the therapeutic community (or TC), which focuses on the resocialization of the individual and use the program’s entire community – including other residents, staff and the social context – as active components of treatment. This highly structured approach can be confrontational at times, with activities designed to help users examine their damaging beliefs, self-concepts and destructive patterns of behavior; residents are encouraged to adopt new, more harmonious and constructive ways to interact with others.
  • Short-term Residential Facility – Serving as home for typically three to six weeks, this strategy provides intensive treatment based on a modified 12-Step approach. Following a stay in a residential treatment program, it is important for these individuals to remain engaged in an outpatient or aftercare program to reduce the risk of relapse; this phase usually consists of continued participation in a 12-Step or self-help program.
  • Outpatient Treatment Facility – This approach may either be the first line of attack (for less severe cases) or part of a multi-phase program (reducing the intensity of treatment for individuals working their way out of a more severe addiction). Such treatment costs less than residential or inpatient treatment and is oftentimes more suitable for people with jobs or extensive social supports. However, when users are allowed to leave the drug-free confines of a treatment facility to go back to their personal home, office and other familiar surroundings – those in which old habits were formed and perpetuated, the risk of relapse is significantly increased. To counteract this effect, some outpatient models – such as intensive day treatment – can be comparable to residential programs in their services and effectiveness. Some outpatient programs are also designed to treat patients with medical or other mental health problems in addition to their drug disorders.1

How Can I Determine the Best Home for Securing My Recovery?

For most individuals with a substance use disorder, treatment includes a variety of social and medical services necessary to aid recovery. The extent and types of drug abuse in a community also must be gauged accurately to evaluate the array of required services. Ideally, the drug use patterns, medical and social consequences, and costs of drug abuse should be understood. In addition, understanding the nature of addiction is important to structuring and evaluating appropriate treatment services.3

Effective drug abuse treatment requires a thorough assessment and integration of the needs of every individual entering treatment. Our integrated, Dual Diagnosis approach has been lauded by more than ten federally funded studies of treatment programs across the country, so you can call any of our admissions coordinators on our toll-free line 24/7 with confidence. But we don’t just have the know-how to get results; we’re genuinely concerned with the needs of each and every individual we serve… and it shows.


1 “Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition)”, National Institute on Drug Abuse, http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/ , (last updated December 2012).

2 Polcin, Douglas L., Ed.D., et. al., “What Did We Learn from Our Study on Sober Living Houses and Where Do We Go from Here?” National Center for Biotechnology Information, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3057870/ , (December 2010).

3 “Treatment Protocol Effectiveness Study”, Publications: Office of National Drug Control Policy, https://www.ncjrs.gov/ondcppubs/publications/treat/trmtprot.html , (March 1996).