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Boot Camp Drug Rehab Centers: Do They Work?

A 2009 study conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that nearly 23.5 million individuals in the United States suffered from an illicit drug or alcohol abuse problem. Of those, around 11.2 percent, or 2.1 million people, sought specialized treatment through inpatient and outpatient facilities. Many newer drug treatment centers are being likened to luxury resorts, and addicts are treated to herbal wraps, massages, aromatherapy and gourmet chefs while working through their drug and alcohol issues. In a response to these facilities, which bill their patients as much as $1,300 per day, many are seeking an alternative, more cost effective method to help themselves or a loved one overcome addiction. Enter the idea of a boot camp drug rehab facility, which utilize no-frills, hard labor and a spirit of community to help its patients realize sobriety.

Cons of Luxury Treatment Facilities

The media is constantly bombarding the public with images of pampered celebrities and socialites using drug rehab treatment facilities as a glorified vacation spot. For many, these treatment centers are an effective way to relieve stress, work through the underlying cause of the addiction and provide them with the tools necessary to maintain sobriety after reentering the “real world.” However, these centers have several downsides, which should be considered before checking in:

  • The cost-Once again, these drug rehab facilities aren’t cheap, and will often cost upwards of 10 times more than other conventional rehabilitation centers.
  • A feeling of isolation-Many times, traditional drug rehab programs, including the luxury centers, create a feeling of isolation, which isn’t beneficial to the patient’s sobriety. The treatment programs are based on personal goals, and often ignore an addict’s need for peer support and a sense of community.
  • No proven advantages over their cheaper, more bare-bones, facilities-In the end, there’s no real benefit to all of the expense, horseback riding and private rooms overlooking an immaculately manicured lawn. If you’re willing to do the work, you’ll find a cheaper institution is equally as effective.

A Typical Boot Camp Rehab

In many respects, a boot camp drug rehab center is very similar to the more budget-friendly facilities, state-run centers and luxury programs. The patients are expected to detox before entering the facility, or immediately upon arrival, follow the rules and schedule, participate in group and private therapy sessions and work with their therapist to create a treatment and aftercare program. Where boot camp facilities differ is the philosophy of placing a dramatic emphasis on personal and social responsibility and a sense of collaboration amongst the residents. The participants in the majority of these centers are responsible for cleaning their rooms, performing chores and most importantly, remaining accountable for their past indiscretions and inability to focus and work as a team. The resident’s responsibilities, and rewards, are often dictated by their behavior. Perform accordingly, and the patient will earn more privileges and perform less manual labor. Conversely, breaking the rules and defying the counselors will result in strict penalties and loss of access to amenities.

The Potential Dangers of Boot Camp Rehabilitation

A typical boot camp drug rehab center places more emphasis on performing and realizing goals as a group, rather than dealing solely with the individual’s issues. This can sometimes backfire, as some addicts require that one-on-one attention and personal accountability to thrive. Also, many enter these facilities as a last resort, or at the behest of a haggard parent, which can breed resentment and an unwillingness to participate.

For all the promising, well intentioned boot camp programs available, there are others that still utilize the philosophy that to effectively cure a person of their addiction, the patient must be emotionally and psychologically broken down and built back up into a stronger individual that’s more capable of overcoming their demons. This is a potentially dangerous philosophy, and has been found to have a profoundly negative effect on several patients. These strategies may prove effective in the military, but can be disastrous to a teen or adult suffering from an underlying mental disorder.

Do your homework and weigh the pros and cons of the various drug rehab facilities before deciding which is best for you, your child or loved one. There are several considerations to keep in mind, such as the center’s cost as well as its methods and philosophies, all of which can vary dramatically.

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