What’s the Rehab Treatment Model?

The model of treatment at rehab facilities is immersion in a therapeutic community.

What’s a therapeutic community? It’s a place where: patients feel safe enough and cared for enough to hear some very hard truths; become honest enough to acknowledge that they’re true; and then become willing and amenable to treatment.

The first truth that has to be confronted is denial of addiction (though this may not be the case for those who’ve tried rehab before). Only when denial is demolished does someone become willing to accept that he has a disease that requires treatment. A second hard truth is that treatment is possible. A third, that baring one’s deepest fears and insecurities to a bunch of strangers is possible and necessary.

The key to facing these hard truths is safety. No one becomes honest unless they come to believe that being truthful in describing what they’ve done and how they feel — no matter how bad the truth is — won’t be used against them. And that safety is a direct function of feeling cared about and cared for. Addiction is a disease of isolation. Addicts feel fundamentally uncared for because they believe they don’t deserve it. In contrast, in treatment facilities addicts are intensively cared for whether they believe they deserve it or not. Thus, the key to a therapeutic community is accepting the care of others. It’s caring, understanding people.

The people who make up the therapeutic community are other patients, the staff (often addicts in recovery themselves) and sobriety veterans like former patients who participate in alumni activities and members of 12-Step communities.

While immersed in a therapeutic community, most treatment facilities adopt the 12-Step model of recovery which is designed to provide addicts with the tools necessary to stay sober. (For more on this subject, click on Questions About 12-Step Programs?)

For more, click on What Are the Goals of Treatment?

For much more detail on treatment, including my experience, click on the Treatment Intro/Menu. For more on a therapeutic community click on The Treatment Model.

Click here to return to the Questions About Addiction Menu.


Subscribe to the Addict Science Newsletter


cover of A Whole Lot of Medicine

Leave a Reply