In terms of successful drug rehabilitation programs, it is generally acknowledged among healthcare professionals that the more treatment a patient receives, the better. Running anywhere from six to twelve months, long-term treatment programs typically encompass many of the same procedures as short-term treatment programs including residential therapy (living full-time in a drug rehabilitation facility with other substance abusers), medication therapy (includes the use of prescribed drugs to aid in the rehabilitation process) and drug-free outpatient therapy (encompasses a wide variety of different programs that include regular visits to a drug clinic) albeit for a more extended period of time.
Therapeutic communities (TCs) are extremely structured long-term programs during which the patient lives in a drug rehabilitation facility for anywhere from six to twenty-four months. Intended for patients with long histories of drug dependency that may include serious criminal activities and/or an inability to function in society, TCs aid the addict in breaking their habit while simultaneously providing support and training for reintegrating back into the community.
Intended as a transition from life in a closed rehabilitation facility to a more independent way of drug-free living, halfway houses are community residences semi-supervised by rehabilitation professionals in a shared apartment or house with other recovering addicts. Residents are free to do as they please during the day, which typically includes going to school, working or looking for employment. Group therapy sessions are organized during the evening for residents to share their experiences and obtain the support of fellow addicts.
A major part of long-term treatment programs is an emphasis on individual therapy. Often referred to as ‘the talking cure’, the idea behind protracted therapy treatment is to establish a bond of trust between the patient and the therapist or drug counselor. As such, it is imperative that the patient feels comfortable and open with his or her therapist in order for treatment to be effective. Once such a bond has been formed, therapy takes on a whole new dimension as the therapist guides the patient through often painful memories or emotional experiences as a means of better understanding oneself and the events that led to drug addiction. An essential aspect of any drug rehabilitation program, individual therapy may continue for years after completing a long-term treatment program as the patient makes a lasting commitment to live a drug-free life.