Residential Treatment

What is Residential Program?

Inpatient drug and alcohol treatment provides a recovery-focused environment for individuals to heal from addiction. Inpatient programs offer the most intensive form of addiction treatment available.


Because of the nature of substance use disorders, drug and alcohol treatment centers (also called drug and alcohol rehab centers) have had to find diverse ways to treat addictions. Each person who enters an addiction treatment center will need care that is different from the next.


For this reason, most participants in treatment for drug or alcohol abuse can benefit from inpatient treatment. This type of care allows the person to be fully immersed in the treatment environment while providing the individualized addiction treatment services necessary for a successful outcome.

Inpatient treatment, also called residential treatment, provides individuals with the following components that set it apart from other types of care:

  • a higher chance of remaining sober after leaving the program than other forms of care
  • chance to acquire the skills and tools needed to remain sober
  • opportunity to change thought patterns/behaviors, lending to a lasting recovery

What Is Inpatient Drug And Alcohol Treatment?

Inpatient drug and alcohol treatment provides an intensive form of addiction treatment. Inpatient programs are offered for those in treatment from drug or alcohol abuse with varying levels of severity, with or without detoxification (the process of getting rid of substances in the body).

Inpatient programs typically begin with detox in medically supervised detox programs. These provide medical monitoring and professional support while a person flushes harmful toxins from their body gained during substance abuse. This is the initial, physical part of treatment. Once this phase is complete, patients most often move directly into inpatient treatment within a rehab center.

Inpatient addiction treatment programs require individuals to live onsite at the facility for the duration of treatment. Depending on the facility, the participant will be issued a bed in either a private or shared room for their stay. Each day, participants are required to attend classes, counseling, therapy, and various types of treatments every day for the majority of the day.

Inpatient treatment for substance abuse is a proven effective method, as long-term programs for severe addictions are the most likely form of treatment to help individuals establish a substance-free life.

Many inpatient rehab centers also recognize that inpatient treatment, while incredibly effective, is not a one-stop solution for those in addiction recovery. Because of this, they often help with aftercare resources and relapse prevention planning for individuals in their programs.

The Difference Between Inpatient And Residential Treatment

Inpatient and residential addiction treatment are terms for addiction care that are often used interchangeably. However, residential care may have a focus more on counseling and therapy (such as 12-step-based programs), while inpatient care may have a more intensive focus on medical healing (such as medical detox and medication-assisted treatment).

Because most treatment centers and professionals now use these terms to mean the same or both types of treatment, it’s important to check into any rehab center an individual is considering attending. This can help individuals understand which treatment methods are offered, the treatment approach, licensing accreditations, and more so they are equipped to make the best decision regarding their care.

Inpatient Rehab Program Components: Therapies And Treatment Methods

Inpatient rehab programs are customized to individual need.

Therapies, treatment methods, and other components within the programs will be determined during the initial clinical assessment prior to the start of treatment. The following are some treatment components most commonly used in inpatient drug and alcohol treatment.

Medically Supervised Detox

Detox can be achieved in many forms, such as rapid detox, self-detox, and outpatient detox (in which the person detoxes quickly then doesn’t proceed to treatment). The best, most effective, and safest method of detox is offered in inpatient treatment programs in a medically supervised setting.

These programs provide medical support and monitoring throughout the detox process. This ensures the person remains safe and comfortable throughout, affording a higher chance of success and a more efficient transition to inpatient treatment.

Medically supervised detox programs are staffed by medical personnel who will:

  • track a person’s vital functions (such as heart and breathing rates)
  • administer medication when needed to ease the worst withdrawal symptoms
  • track drug levels in the body to monitor progress
  • keep a person strong through mental support on the path to recovery

While an important part of inpatient treatment programs, detox only comprises the first phase of treatment and works best when followed with intensive inpatient care.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

For those who are dependent on highly addictive drugs, like alcohol, benzodiazepines, or opioids, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) may be a highly beneficial form of treatment. Medication-assisted treatment pairs the use of medications, for those who need long-term management of withdrawal symptoms like cravings, with other treatment components, like behavioral therapy and counseling.

MAT is one of the fastest-growing forms of addiction treatment, especially useful in treating addictions to alcohol and opioids like heroin or prescription opioids like oxycodone (OxyContin). Such addictions, when severe, create long-lasting cravings and urges to use that can return long after a person has detoxed or completed inpatient treatment.

For people who have been addicted to a substance for years, medications can help keep withdrawal symptoms at bay while also keeping them on track with recovery goals. However, medications used in inpatient medication-assisted treatment programs are most effective when used in conjunction with other effective methods, such as behavioral therapy and counseling.

Used together, these methods provide a well-rounded inpatient treatment program and all the tools, skills, and coping mechanisms a person’s needs to begin and maintain sobriety in recovery.

Therapy And Counseling

Therapy and counseling are two forms of treatment which are almost always used in drug and alcohol treatment programs.

Counseling helps an individual work through issues which may have led to addiction or substance abuse, recurring issues, triggers which can contribute to continued abuse, and more. Counseling sessions are often one-on-one and each participant is typically provided a personal counselor.

Therapy can come in many forms, one of the most common of which is behavioral therapy. Methods such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) help participants break the cycle of negative thought patterns and corresponding destructive behaviors. Once this pattern is broken, there is room for new, positive thought patterns and constructive behaviors—which in turn lead to less substance abuse.

There are many types of evidence-based therapies within addiction treatment, all of which lend in different ways to helping individuals develop principles for a lasting recovery. The types of therapy offered in a particular inpatient program will depend on the drug and alcohol treatment center, its approach to treatment, and resources available.

Who Will Benefit From Inpatient Drug And Alcohol Treatment?

People with severe drug and alcohol addictions and dependencies are likely to see the greatest benefits from inpatient drug and alcohol treatment programs.

However, because of the variety of treatments offered, many types of treatment participants can reap the rewards of an inpatient program, including:

  • people with mild, moderate, or severe substance use disorders
  • people with co-occurring substance use disorders (secondary addictions)
  • people with co-occurring mental health disorders (such as depression or bipolar disorder)
  • people who need special accommodations, such as pregnant women, teens, veterans, or executives
  • people who need specialized treatment, such as a gender-specific program
  • people who need longer in addiction treatment to overcome co-occurring issues that affect addiction, such as trauma, domestic abuse, and drug-related crimes
  • people who need addiction treatment but must complete it quickly and efficiently for specific reasons, such as parents and people with demanding careers (CEOs, hospitality workers)

No matter the type of individual entering treatment, inpatient care can help them restore overall health, quit use of substances, acquire skills and mechanisms to continue abstaining from alcohol and drugs, and build or rebuild a fulfilling lifestyle that allows for a successful recovery.

Inpatient Vs. Outpatient Drug And Alcohol Treatment

There are a few key differences between inpatient and outpatient drug and alcohol treatment.

First, inpatient treatment is more intensive in nature since it’s facilitated onsite, in an around-the-clock format. Outpatient is typically less intensive and occurs anywhere from weekly or monthly to a couple or several days per week, depending on the program.

What Happens After An Inpatient Treatment Program?

Inpatient treatment comprises a complete, initial treatment for substance use disorders, which is best complemented by aftercare of some kind.

People in inpatient programs achieve comprehensive healing, but for this healing to be effective for years to come, individuals should continue to participate in addiction treatment.

Addiction is a disease of chronic relapse, so it’s not uncommon to experience at least one relapse for those newly in recovery. Most inpatient rehab centers help individuals connect with aftercare resources to continue their recovery journeys, such as local treatment centers offering outpatient care, medication management with a local treatment center or at home when appropriate, alumni support, 12-step support groups, and more.

For more information on inpatient drug and alcohol treatment, and what comes next, contact a treatment specialist today.

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We Can Help You Overcome Your Addiction Today.

Call (888) 912-2454

All calls & messages are free and totally confidential.

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