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What does a Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center do?

By Christina Edwards
Updated May 17, 2024
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A drug and alcohol treatment center is a place that helps individuals overcome drug or alcohol abuse. In this structured environment, residents are educated about addiction in general, as well as the effects of drugs and alcohol on bodies, minds, and relationships. Different types of therapy are also available during a stay and after a resident is released.

Detoxification is the process that a person's body goes through as it tries to get rid of all traces of alcohol or drugs. Some individuals may opt to enter a detox facility when going through withdrawal. These facilities have a medical staff available to monitor the withdrawal symptoms. Detox facilities are available in some treatment centers, but other treatment programs may not admit a patient until he has gone through detoxification at another facility.

The features of a treatment facility vary from one drug and alcohol treatment center to another. While one may be a bare-bones, boot-camp type facility, another may seem more like a resort or spa than a treatment center. Some of these facilities give residents their own rooms, or residents may be required to bunk with roommates. Along with therapy rooms, there is often also a common room where residents can watch television, play games, and socialize. Contrary to some people's beliefs, these facilities generally are not locked down, and residents are allowed to leave at any time.

Education is usually one of the main goals at a drug and alcohol treatment center. Residents are taught about the aspects of addiction. They are then encouraged to look at themselves honestly to determine if they have a problem with drugs or alcohol. Most treatment centers also educate residents about the consequences and effects of using drugs. Some of these consequences may be jail time, health problems, or strained relationships.

Individual therapy is also often available, and sometimes even required, in a drug and alcohol treatment center. A resident will usually meet with substance abuse counselors at least a few times a week. During these meetings, the counselor will help the resident learn more about his specific situation, and how to deal with temptations after he is released. Underlying mental problems, such as depression or bipolar disorder, may also be diagnosed during these sessions.

Many drug and alcohol treatment centers now offer family therapy. The center will help educate loved ones on the nature of addiction as well as offer advice on how to help the addict deal with his problem. Sometimes, family therapy can be aimed at helping families reconnect.

Group therapy may also be available at a drug and alcohol treatment center. Many times, residents are urged to attend these regular meetings. This type of therapy gives residents a chance to connect, and share ideas or problems with others who are dealing with similar circumstances.

The traditional length of a stay in a drug and alcohol treatment center is 28 days. Almost all treatment centers offer some kind of follow-up outpatient care after that. This can be in the form of therapy sessions, group sessions, or 12-step programs. This follow-up care offers help to a person deal with the temptations that are encountered in the outside world.

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