The most significant differences between long-term treatment and extended care for substance abuse are:
- Success rates
- The patient’s freedom of movement
- The qualifications of the staff
- Patient accountability
Long-term treatment programs do not have set end-dates, and patients are free to leave the care facility once they and their doctors believe they have completed treatment. Many factors will influence how long a patient stays in a long-term rehab facility, including the severity of their addiction, if they were a polydrug abuser, and if they also have a dual diagnosis that needs to be managed. Usually, patients stay in a long term care facility anywhere from 3 months, six months, or up to 9 months.
Once a person is released from a long-term treatment program, they are eligible for an extended care program. Patients do not have to participate in an extended care program. But participation can lower relapse rates, and also ensure that patients are getting the customized care they need to manage addiction and any dual diagnosis they may have. In an extended care program, patients have more autonomy and aren’t as accountable to doctors or medical staff like they would be in a long-term treatment program.
It’s critical to understand that while most long term treatment centers allow patients to leave once they are personally ready, some facilities only offer pre-determined release dates. In these cases, patients are often strongly encouraged to participate in an extended care option.
Extended care options help patients integrate back into sober living. If a patient leaves a long term treatment facility before they are ready and they do not have an extended care plan in place, they are at significantly high-risk of relapsing again.