Treatment Facilities & Programs

Extended Care Facilities

By Stacy Jackson, Addiction Treatment Specialist

An extended care facility is a medical institution that provides prolonged care to its patients, especially in the cases of rehabilitation or protracted illness. These facilities are designed specifically to meet the needs of those who require assistance with every day activities and/or with their medical issues. Many people conjure images of nursing homes or Alzheimer's communities when they think of extended care facilities; however, people often overlook the fact that many extended care facilities exist solely for the purpose of drug treatment and rehabilitation.

Typical drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs can last anywhere from 1 to 3 months and do not require intensive treatment. This is usually a long enough period of time to address a patient's physical addiction to a substance, but it is not always long enough to address the patient's other needs and the psychological manifestations of his/her addiction. Individuals with serious dependence on very dangerous substances, such as a crystal methamphetamine addiction or extreme alcohol abuse that put not only the individuals, but also the people around them at risk may need to address their problems with a more focused form of treatment at an extended care facility.

The prime candidates for extended care facilities are those with addictions that have seriously disrupted and diminished their quality of life, have endured long term and detrimental financial effects, and have caused the individual to become a danger to themselves or others. Individuals with a history of relapse or prolonged substance abuse should also consider an extended care facility as a treatment option. In addition, extended care facilities are a tremendous resource and trecovery option for individuals who have what is known as a dual diagnosis. A dual diagnosis is a drug or alcohol addiction that exists in combination with a clinically diagnosed mental illness, such as depression or schizophrenia. Dual diagnoses are particularly difficult to treat because the two conditions are often reliant upon and affected by one another. Drug treatment specialists and psychiatrists often have to work in close contact over long periods of time to treat patients with a dual diagnosis. These patients can benefit tremendously from the type and length of care offered at an extended care facility.

Extended care facilities operate out of most major cities in every state in the country, and there are a variety of resources both online and off to help individuals locate the treatment center that is most suited to meet their needs. Extended care facilities treat a wide array of substance abuse issues, including, but not limited to, alcohol abuse, crystal methamphetamine addiction, heroin use, cocaine addiction, and dependence upon prescription medications. Most extended care facilities keep patients for a year or longer, administering daily counseling and therapy sessions. Patients may stay at the facility longer if needed, as may be the case with a crystal meth addiction, a dependence on heroin, or the abuse of prescription narcotics. The treatment at these facilities is specialized and designed to remedy the issues that may have made standard treatment methods ineffective for certain individuals at other facilities. It is very important for individuals and their families to research the various facilities and treatment options available to them. Each extended care facility operates under its own philosophy, with its own mission, and uses counseling and rehabilitation practices unique to their method of care. Once an individual decides on one extended care facility, or a few that may meet their needs, they should contact the facilities to schedule an appointment for a consultation. Most facilities offer one-on-one patient consultations in order to explain their treatment methods and clarify the goals and needs of their prospective patients. These consultations can be very helpful in deciding which treatment facility is best suited for a particular person.

Extended care most often takes place in a residential setting, allowing patients their own space to adapt to and call home. This is beneficial to patients, as it allows them the opportunity to claim their own space and receive treatment in a way that is not such an extreme departure from everyday life. Many of these facilities are in close proximity to hospitals, and some are even a part of their local hospital. They are usually staffed by a variety of medical professionals with backgrounds in addiction and drug treatment, as well as a number of counselors and clinical psychologists, with whom the patients meet daily. The goal is to heal not the only the patient's physical ailments, but also their mind and spirit, in order to free them once and for all from their addictions. Once the patients finish treatment, counselors and other specialists work with them to help them secure employment and a residence outside of the facility. A multitude of resources are available to patients to help them acclimate to their new lives outside of the facility.

Like everything else, extended care facilities present their own unique challenges to those seeking drug treatment. A stay in an extended care facility requires a major commitment by an individual to work towards bettering him/herself and his/her life. Individuals in these facilities leave their jobs and former lives behind for the duration of their stay in the facility, and often the timeline for the completion of treatment is indefinite. Family support is vital to the success of these individuals, as the shock of uprooting their entire lives can be overwhelming. Family members may also have to offer financial support, as extended treatment comes with a cost. A stay in an extended care facility can undoubtedly be difficult, not only for the individual in treatment, but also for the family and friends of that person. The benefit of extended care, though, is a much greater chance of success for each individual and the opportunity for a fresh start. The main goal of extended care is 100% rehabilitation for each individual in the facility, and when family and friends are dedicated to helping their loved one achieve a life free of addiction and hardship, the possibilities for that person are endless.

Extended Care Facilities

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