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Why Long-Term Addiction Treatment Should Be The New Normal.

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Treatment is a great way to jump-start recovery, but the work does not end when treatment does. Just as addiction does not develop overnight, recovery is a process. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that approximately half of individuals who have gone to treatment for substance use disorders will relapse. This can be intimidating and disheartening to many for whom treatment feels like the solution – and often, it is. However, while many go to a shorter-term detox or a month-long treatment center, longer-term addiction treatment programs like Encore Outpatient Services or addiction treatment in Virginia can be used in lieu of, or in conjunction with, these shorter, more intensive treatment programs, acting as a stepping-stone from inpatient care to living independently in the real world. Long-term treatment in Virginia can help in many ways, including:

  • Helping to develop a daily routine and schedule; for example, waking up at a certain time each day and going to a process group.
  • Providing support and guidance for many of the fears, triggers, and anxieties that commonly arise in early recovery.
  • Connecting clients with local support groups and fellowships and help them navigate the social fabric of those groups for the first time.
  • Being an effective safety system by providing structure while individuals develop their own life-long recovery routines outside of the treatment environment.

Long-term addiction treatment should be the norm, and not the outlier when it comes to treating substance use disorders.  In most cases, individuals entering recovery are making major changes to multiple areas of their lives, and these changes take time to execute and acclimate to.  A major role of a partial hospitalization program in Northern Virginia such as Encore, is to provide the necessary support and guidance for individuals as they create this foundation for their recovery.  Treatment planning that involves specific clinical approaches to address symptoms of substance use and co-occurring disorders is provided in tandem with treatment planning that address what individuals must accomplish outside of treatment to meet their own personal goals and thrive in recovery.

How to Stay Plugged In

As mentioned above, staying connected to recovery can be difficult. If long-term treatment isn’t an option, below are some suggestions for how you can stay plugged into recovery and into your own well-being even after treatment ends.

Having Sober Friends

Having people with whom you can connect and have fun with is an essential part of not just recovery, but of life. Whether these are friends you meet in support groups, fellowships, or other places, friends who understand recovery and abstain from drugs and alcohol themselves will ensure that you won’t have to deal with awkward encounters hanging out at bars or parties where drugs and alcohol are a central theme. When you have friends who are also sober, you can do drug-free activities together such as sports, music, road trips, or whatever else your hearts’ desire.

Follow Up Appointments and Aftercare

At the earliest stages, and toward the end of treatment, you and your treatment team will develop a plan for “aftercare,” or what services or strategies you will employ after treatment to help you in your new life of recovery.  After treatment, it can be easy to feel like no more medical or psychiatric needs exist, and in some cases individuals might feel fatigued from the incredible amount of mental and emotional work they have already done during treatment. It’s important to recognize that ongoing therapy and other services will continue to provide benefit long after the period of rapid change and improvement in early recovery plateaus.  Following up on recommendations from your treatment provider as well as staying physically and mentally healthy by regularly checking in with doctors, psychiatrists, therapists, or whomever else may be a part of your aftercare plan will keep you informed of your own needs, and help identify areas where you might continue to grow and improve your quality of life. Following the advice and recommendations of professionals can help you take actions toward staying sober that you may not have realized were as important as they are.

Recognize Negative Patterns

Oftentimes it is suggested to change “people, places, and things” in early recovery. It is important to recognize old behaviors or aspects of your life that could lead you to relapse, and to determine whether sober living, making sober friends, or finding a job in a healthy environment are changes that will be beneficial to your recovery. Whether you are going to a therapist or have a sponsor, learning how to recognize old maladaptive patterns when they creep in can help prevent relapse, and changing your circumstances from where old patterns were acceptable, to being in environments that support a healthier way of living will help prevent the old behaviors, thoughts, and feelings from returning to pervasive issues.

Joining a Fellowship

Whether a 12-step group, Refuge Recovery, SMART recovery, or any other type of fellowship or support group, these programs can serve as a vital place to turn to for help and ongoing support throughout recovery.  We strongly recommend that individuals find healthy support groups wherein they share a common purpose with others.  We have found it most effective when these support groups incorporate some aspect of personal recovery as a part of their mission.

Live in Sober Living if Necessary

Sober living or halfway housing helps provide structure and accountability. These can also be great places to make friends and stay connected to a fellowship. In the Northern Virginia and DC area, Oxford Houses provide great and affordable sober living for many after they leave treatment, and we are starting to see an increase in independently run sober livings that incorporate a house manager and supervision to increase the structure over peer-run homes such as Oxford Houses.  Living environment can be one of the biggest predictors for success in recovery, and living in a healthy supportive recovery environment during early recovery might just be the key to long-term stability and sobriety.

Encore Outpatient Services is a long-term addiction treatment program in Arlington, Virginia. Handling addiction and co-occurring disorders, complex cases, and family therapy, and medication management, our long-term programs help facilitate optimal healing and lasting recovery for years to come. For more information call us today at 703-594-7398 or visit our website here at

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