When an individual has spent a period of time in a mental health facility, one’s experience can sometimes be so powerful that they may find themselves wishing they were still experiencing it. This is something to take into consideration as a potential client to a mental health institution because you never know how you might react after receiving a large amount of emotional support from strangers, which can be extremely gratifying and, in certain circumstances, can become addictive. Much like how young adults sometimes dread returning home from college for break, after a satisfactory stay at a mental health facility, you may feel the need to return to residential treatment for reasons that don’t make as much sense as the initial reasons for why you chose to attend in the first place. While it can be tempting to want to return to the safe and supportive environment of a mental health facility, there are other options available for receiving continued support after leaving treatment.
When first attending a residential treatment program for mental health issues or substance dependency, an individual typically experiences things unlike any they ever had before at the facility. Because the point of residential treatment is to provide the highest level of care a person can receive for their mental health, the person coming to treatment is finally able to receive a proper diagnosis and personalized treatment after what is usually a very long period of suffering. It should be noted that every individual’s experience at a residential treatment center is different and that not every residential treatment center is right for every individual.
Much like taking an addictive substance for the first time, the experience of intensive treatment can produce such an overwhelmingly positive response that people often say that the experience is unlike anything they’d ever encountered in their life. This can be due to a variety of things, mostly having to do with the level of relief the client feels in treatment after alleviating some of their suffering for the first time. This feeling is incredibly rewarding and can therefore stick with the client as a positive memory long after they’ve left treatment. What you should know before entering treatment is that this will probably feel like a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon, but that feeling often cannot be replicated with subsequent treatments.
It’s not unusual for some people to need more treatment. Many people return to treatment after having already stayed at a residential facility due to relapses, increased struggles with their diagnoses, and other factors. It is completely acceptable to enter into treatment as much as you need to. However, for some people, the experience of being completely taken care of in treatment can become something that they depend on so strongly that they sometimes feel like they cannot live in the outside world without the same level of care that they received when staying at a treatment facility.
Psychologically, this phenomenon can model itself a bit like an addiction, except that instead of relying on drugs or alcohol, a person can become dependent on treatment and may want to stay at the treatment facility indefinitely. This is often because inpatient treatment includes frequent one-on-one counseling and group therapy sessions with trained professionals, regular interactions with peers who are going through similar struggles, the structured days and safe environment. While the treatment process is often intense, the overwhelming amount of care and support provided is designed to make the treatment process as easy and effective as possible. As such, returning to the “real world” after completing treatment can be an overwhelming experience that can make someone long to go back to the more regimented and structured atmosphere of a treatment center.
While it can be tempting to want to return to treatment in order to avoid having to deal with life on one’s own, this is not the point behind treatment. Inpatient treatment is designed to help a person properly address and manage their mental health disorder or substance use disorder through medical intervention, medication management, therapy sessions, and teaching valuable life skills to help learn how to maintain your health and wellbeing once a person leaves treatment. Ideally, treatment is considered successful when a client is able to go out and stand on their own.
That in no way means that a person is cut off from treatment services once inpatient treatment is complete. A huge part of the treatment process is establishing healthy habits and a strong support system to help keep a person on track with their recovery in the long term. As such, many treatment facilities offer outpatient services, aftercare programs, and alumni programs. Outpatient services and aftercare programs allow a person to live at home and go to work, but they still attend regular therapy sessions and group meetings at the treatment center. Many treatment centers also feature alumni programs that are designed to provide continued support for clients once they complete treatment.
Entering a treatment center for mental health issues or substance use disorder can be a life-changing experience for many people. For those who have been struggling with their disorders for a long time, the sense of wellbeing and support provided by the professionals, peers, and the safe, structured environment provided during treatment can bring a great sense of relief and improved wellbeing. After completing treatment, returning to the “real world” can be scary and overwhelming and can make a person want to return to the more positive atmosphere of a treatment facility. However, support does not end with treatment. In addition to inpatient and outpatient treatment, Sober Life offers alumni programming to provide continued support for those who completed treatment to help them maintain their health and wellbeing in the long term. If you are struggling with mental health issues or addiction to drugs or alcohol, call Sober Life at (619) 542-9542 to learn more about our various treatment options and continuing support services.