In the past few years, more and more scrutiny has been placed on America’s addiction to short rehab programmes. Countless articles have why the current 30-day trend is outdated, expensive and has poor rates of return. Some estimate that only 10% of addicts going into a 30-day rehab programme will stay sober. In an interview with Slate magazine, one Outpatient clinic owner noted: “You don’t treat a chronic illness with 30 days of intensive rehab – that’s absurd”. He’s got a point. The real question is what’s the solution? Luckily there are other options on how to detox your liver from alcohol.
Symptoms of Detox
Detox can be a painful process. Not only are symptoms of withdrawal severe and often very unpleasant, chronic alcohol abuse and addiction is a long built habit that takes time, effort and a certain amount of skill to break. The most obvious negative to alcohol detox is the withdrawal symptoms. Patients get a number of symptoms including:
That final one is the biggest takeaway. Detox can be dangerous. In some ways, the 30-day alcohol detox rehab programme made sense when it was first invented. Get the addict safely off alcohol without some of the more severe side effects and back to their family sober. But the more we learn about addiction the more we learn this just doesn’t work. Here’s why:
- Addiction isn’t just withdrawal. Whilst addicts don’t want to stop because they fear the withdrawal – this isn’t the only reason they are addicted.
- Old habits die hard. How long does it take to make or break a habit? If you took up a new hobby would 30 days of doing that hobby count as a new habit? No. People take much longer, up to 90 days to make habits.
- Addiction takes time to open up to. Often 30 days isn’t long enough to build trusting therapeutic relationships with the staff at these clinics
- The addicts don’t want to be there. It’s no surprise that family members and loved ones want alcoholics to seek help. But often convincing them to go to a 30-day programme won’t be enough. They have to make a long-term commitment to change and signing up to 30 days isn’t a big enough commitment. Longer treatments take dedication and real willpower – the exact characteristics an alcoholic needs to overcome their addiction.
Unrealistic Expectations – Outpatient or Longer Stays are the Only Way
As we’ve seen – 30-day alcohol detox programs aren’t working. The success rates are low, sometimes lower than 10% completing and continuing the programme. There are, however, a number of solutions. One alternative is longer residential programmes. Those deeply ingrained habits, that have years and years of history are far more likely to be broken by much longer stays, perhaps 3 or more months. Many recovery practices do offer this service and it typically has a much higher rate of success (up to 2 or 3X higher than the best 30-day programmes). Another option is outpatient recovery, with skilled doctors prescribing the best medications to guide a person through the process and stop dangerous withdrawal. In fact, studies have shown for all substance abuse, including alcohol, that longer stays in rehab simply work better.