Residential Drug Treatment Centers

The terms inpatient rehab and residential rehab are often used interchangeably, but they are actually different forms of care.

Both provide a high level of substance abuse treatment. They are intended for people who struggle with severe cases of addiction, multiple relapses, or co-occurring disorders, such as another mental health issue in addition to addiction or a comorbid medical condition.

Both residential and inpatient treatment centers are available all over the country. You can find one that is right for you by accessing your state’s health department, reaching out to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for referrals, or talking to your primary care provider.

Many treatment programs have helplines you can call to learn more about their specific offerings.

Are Inpatient and Residential Rehabs Different?

Yes, they are technically different forms of treatment.

People who have misused drugs may come into contact with inpatient care in the following ways:

  • After an emergency: Data shows that approximately 50 percent of inpatient cases are referred to these departments after visiting the emergency room. If you have health insurance, you must be admitted by a hospital for this to be considered an inpatient service. Staying the night for “medical observation” does not count.
  • At a hospital: Inpatient services are often given at hospitals. You are required to stay overnight for one night or more.
  • Due to a doctor’s referral: Inpatient admission is decided by your doctor. They will assess whether this level of care is necessary for your situation.

In the technical sense, you should expect to remain at a hospital during your inpatient care. However, the label inpatient treatment facility is often erroneously applied to residential facilities, but these are not the same thing. Most often, however, if a treatment facility advertises inpatient treatment, they are referring to residential treatment.

A residential treatment facility for substance abuse involves the following:

  • You will voluntarily sign up for the program in most cases. In some cases, treatment may be mandated by a court order.
  • You will live at the facility around the clock. You don’t leave the grounds during your treatment program, though some people in later stages of treatment may be able to leave the grounds for field trips occasionally.
  • You will usually begin with detox, or you may be expected to have completed detox at a separate facility before starting treatment. Depending on the program, medications may be used in addition to supportive care during detox.
  • Individual and group therapy are the core parts of your treatment. These sessions are often held every day, and they may be supplemented by other forms of complementary therapies. Therapy will get to the root issues behind your substance abuse and help you learn to live a healthier life.
  • You’ll participate in support groups. Often in the 12-step model, these peer groups can be a necessary form of support in recovery.
  • You may have family therapy sessions. It is common for residential facilities to restrict visitors initially so you can better focus on your treatment. Eventually, your loved ones will be invited to visit and participate in your recovery process.Family therapy can help your loved ones learn about the basics of addiction and how to best help you in recovery. Family dynamics are also examined, and communication patterns can benefit greatly from this therapy. Ultimately, relationships are strengthened.
  • You’ll create an aftercare plan. Relapse is likely with addiction, so a strong aftercare plan is needed to minimize the chances of it happening.The specifics of your plan will vary, depending on what you and your therapist feel is best for your needs. It can include checking into an intensive outpatient program, regularly attending 12-step meetings, seeing a therapist on a weekly basis, or moving into a sober living home. Aftercare will better prepare you to be a productive member of society and help you stay sober in the vulnerable stage after you exit a structured treatment program.

All successful rehabilitation facilities will incorporate the above items into your treatment. Amenities, such as the type of room you stay in, additional elective activities, and luxury services, such as massages, are available in some residential treatment centers.

Staff and Setting

Residential addiction treatment facilities are staffed by a variety of professionals, such as:

  • Doctors and nurses.
  • Therapists.
  • Social workers.
  • Case managers.
  • Support staff.

Residential facilities come in a range of levels. Some are simple camp-style facilities with bare-bones amenities. Luxury facilities may be located in beautiful locales, like the beach or the mountains. They may offer well-appointed services like full spa treatments, gourmet meals, and private suites.

Using Health Insurance Coverage

Residential programs have varying costs, depending on:

  • The treatment you need. People who are in treatment for opioid abuse may incur additional costs if they need medication-assisted treatment. Some people may engage in some complementary therapies, such as adventure therapy, that aren’t covered by insurance. Treatment is individualized, so there is a big range in the services each client receives.
  • How long you will stay. The average length of stay in residential treatment is 28 days, but this varies depending on the individual. Longer stays are obviously associated with higher costs, and your insurance plan may have a limit on the number of days that are covered.
  • Location. A state like California has a higher cost of living than a state like Montana, and this can be reflected in treatment prices. Usually, residential treatment programs are more expensive if they are near the beach, in the mountains, on a lake, or in another picturesque setting.
  • Amenities offered. A residential program with only basic services will always be much cheaper than one that offers luxury amenities.

Insurance usually covers residential and/or inpatient care for a limited amount of time. Things can get challenging if a client requires repeated visits or relapses.

man filing out health insurance forms

Per the ACA, all insurance plans must cover treatment for mental health and substance use disorders at the same level they cover other medical issues. Exact coverage will vary depending on your plan, but insurance can greatly offset the cost of residential treatment. Some insurance plans may require that you first attempt outpatient treatment before they approve coverage for residential care.

There are some other ways you may be able to decrease your costs related to addiction treatment.

  • Some states may provide disability insurance benefits if you reside in a qualifying treatment facility for drug or alcohol misuse.
  • If you meet requirements, you can use Medicare to cover qualifying expenses for treatment. Medicare specifies that it has not designated a section to cover residential or outpatient treatment for substance abuse, but it can still cover certain services.

Do Residential Facilities Provide Aftercare Programs?

Eventually, you’ll need to transition out of residential addiction treatment into life in the outside world. An aftercare plan can ensure this transition is smooth and set you up for success in recovery.

people in aftercare program

The primary form of aftercare is often ongoing outpatient treatment, such as regular therapy sessions. A complete aftercare plan can include many other features that support a sober lifestyle, such as  continued use of medications, attending peer support group meetings, and regular exercise and sleep.

Virtually all addiction treatment programs, both residential and outpatient, offer aftercare planning help.

How Do I Know What Level of Care I Need?

Residential treatment is a step up from a partial hospitalization program or an intensive outpatient treatment, so it can often be the heightened level of care these individuals need.

Residential treatment tends to be best for:

  • People with severe addictions that cannot be adequately addressed in an outpatient program.
  • People with co-occurring mental health or medical disorders.
  • People who have an unstable or unsafe home environment.
  • People who have experienced relapse.
  • Adolescents, who can benefit from living in a place that allows them to wholly focus on their recovery, free from peer pressure.

Residential treatment allows for around-the-clock support. There are few to no opportunities to relapse, so you’re more likely to stay sober during this vulnerable time.

While some forms of outpatient care can offer a similar level of treatment intensity, the 24/7 nature of residential treatment makes it the highest level of care.

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