Why Most Treatment Programs Last Only 30 Days

In recent years, most addiction treatment professionals have accepted the theory, backed up by countless studies around the world, that addiction is a complex, chronic disease that alters the structure and function of the brain in very profound ways.

In a nutshell, this explains why addiction is no longer viewed as a moral failing or an indication of weakness, and has nothing to do with willpower. Most experts agree that like other chronic diseases such as asthma, hypertension or diabetes, addiction is but highly treatable.

Treatment Outcomes Improve with Longer Treatment

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treatment. Needs are different for each individual, and people progress at different rates. However, NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) advocates a minimum of three months, while some people may need treatment lasting up to a year.

Shorter treatment, NIDA stresses time and time again, is of limited value – no better than treatment of a single week. Even though 30-day treatment is more affordable and requires less time away from work and family, it is inadequate time for recovery and barely time for cravings to wane.

Shorter Treatment is Associated with Higher Risk of Relapse

Not surprisingly, shorter treatment durations are correlated with high rates of relapse. The first 30 days of treatment is only the beginning of the road to recovery, allowing addicted people a chance to detox, establish relationships with therapists and prepare to learn new habits and ways of thinking.

Longer time in addiction treatment or rehab allows individuals to identify depression, anxiety or other underlying issues. It provides opportunities to work on repair of relationship and family issues, and to establish an effective aftercare and relapse prevention program. Many people need help with health issues, inadequate nutrition or sleep problems.

Insurance Companies Continue to Set Treatment Standards

Standard 30-day treatment isn’t set by treatment providers or addiction professionals. The short treatment spans, based on old or inadequate research, have been established by an insurance industry that steadfastly balks at the idea of paying for longer treatment. As a result, drug and alcohol treatment and rehab become an emotionally draining and disheartening experience for many struggling individuals and their loved ones.

Although the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) has expanded coverage for mental health and addiction treatment in the United States, inability to pay for effective treatment continues to serve as a barrier, and those who need treatment are often required to fight not only an addiction, but an uncooperative insurance company.

Unfortunately, a failure to treat addiction means that taxpayers foot the bill down the road. According to NIDA, every dollar spent on treatment saves approximately $7 in addiction-related health care and prison stays.

Insurance companies get around the new federal requirements a number of ways. For example, they are able to reject claims for treatment by implementing complicated rules and guidelines, which are inconsistent and vary widely.

Some insurance providers are amenable to paying for outpatient treatment but refuse to pay for residential treatment of any duration, while others pay for five to seven days, which is woefully inadequate. Others may pay for detox but view long-term drug and alcohol treatment or rehab as an unnecessary luxury. Some treatment providers kick clients out the door and deny further treatment the moment insurance money runs out.

Many insurance providers base payments on medical necessity, which can be difficult to prove, especially when many medical providers are still frighteningly behind the times when it comes to acknowledging addiction as a treatable chronic illness, much like diabetes, high blood pressure or asthma.

We Tailor Treatment Length to Client Needs

Setting any standard, one-size-fits-all form of treatment is an egregious error. Thirty days is barely enough, even in an intensive, highly individualized setting like that provided at Paracelsus Recovery – it will almost never be sufficient in standard treatment settings.

Our treatment is tailored to meet the needs of the client – no matter how long it takes.

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