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Can A Boot Camp For Drug Addicts Work?

Military Model For Drug Treatment

Boot camp drug treatment centers and programs focus on a military model that includes a strict daily regimen, including cleaning and other duties, regular inspections, physical exercise, and simple meals. Disobeying rules results in expulsion from the program. Typically, the rooms for boot camp style drug treatment outside of prison or shelters are equally as stark and may be shared with other program participants, even during detoxification. This no-frills approach echoes the theme of the traditional 12-step program in humbling the drug-addicted individual in order to achieve a level of awareness about their addiction and responsibility to self and others.

Learning To Cope Without Drugs

Arguably one of the more rigid and possibly effective aspects of boot camp style drug treatment programs is that they deny a person the amenities afforded by other facilities, including comfortable rooms, a cleaning staff, alternative therapies, and relaxed social interactions, in favor of an environment that forces the individual to learn to cope without drugs in stressful situations. [inline_cta_one] For many, stress results in relapse, so learning to cope by other means is one key element of achieving and maintaining sobriety. Some boot camp style treatment centers even deny participants an opportunity to form close bonds with other participants, to further encourage a reliance on self for security, rather than others or use of drugs to cope.

“Healing Place” Blends Boot Camp With Traditional Treatment

In the United States, boot camp style drug treatment centers, known as “Healing Places,” approach recovery at a graduated pace. Participants begin detoxing in shared rooms and may eventually work their way into a residential program on treatment campuses. This graduated approach appears to be as effective as other more costly approaches, and affords women, greater access to care, as they often allow children to visit and even live on campus.

More Affordable

One of the greatest barriers drug addicted individuals face in seeking treatment is the cost of a facility. Treatment costs can rocket into the tens of thousands of dollars per month, depending on the facility. Boot camp style drug treatment programs like Healing Place cost as little as $25 a day, and may see similar rates of recovery as the more plush treatment centers.

Positive Attributes Of Boot Camp Style Drug Treatment Programming

Some praise for boot camp style drug treatment programming comes from the model’s adherence to structure. For many, especially youth, who have not learned to take care of themselves and to respect authority, boot camp fosters that sense of responsibility through a strict daily regimen and inspections of duties performed. It also rewards adherence to the model through ceremony at the conclusion of the program. For those, who have never had to make their own bed, clean a bathroom, or pick up after others, this kind of programming is not only humbling, but also offers valuable life lessons in how to live on their own. Another positive aspect of boot camp drug treatment programming is that it usually serves patients for a longer duration than other forms of treatment and at a far lower cost per day. Pros Of Boot Camp Style Drug Treatment:

  • Enforces strict adherence to guidelines and respect for authority
  • Teaches life skills
  • Programming lasts months instead of weeks
  • Far more affordable than other drug treatment options
  • Criticisms Of Boot Camp For Treating Drug Addiction

Some of the greatest criticisms for boot camp style drug treatment centers stems from concerns over the confrontational style of the programming. A person may pass through, adhering to the rules outlined in the program, only to relapse later. For someone with already low self-esteem, as is more often the case with women who use drugs, boot camps may not be a good fit. On their own, the programming does little to address core underlying issues relating to the drug use. Many argue that for boot camp style treatment to be effective, it must be used in conjunction with other therapies. For those who are ready to face their addiction and are committed to wellness, it affords a humbling and constructive opportunity to learn to live drug-free, but for those who are seeking a reduced prison sentence or other perk associated with completing the program, drug rehabilitation is not necessarily at the core of their motivations, making relapse likely. When a person is coerced into boot camp style programming, they show higher rates of recidivism than those who choose to participate in the program. Additionally, these programs are less common outside of the penal system, so accessibility may be an issue. Cons Of Boot Camp Style Drug Treatment:

  • Confrontational approach may not be effective for everyone
  • Does not address core issues related to addiction
  • Programs are often tied to reduced sentencing, altering motivation for participation
  • Often tied to other programming outside of drug addiction treatment
  • Outcomes Significantly Dependent On Attitude

In the end, outcomes for boot camp style treatment vary across the broad spectrum of programming used in conjunction with this form of therapy. It is a new approach diluted or improved by other co-programming. What is known, is that those who approach this therapy willingly, and who are committed to wellness tend to see recovery rates on par with the expensive treatment centers, making boot camp style treatment a viable option for low-income populations.

Get Help For Your Drug Addiction

If you are seeking help for your addiction to drugs or alcohol, Vertava Health can connect you with the resources and treatment options that work with your individual needs and belief systems. Don’t wait to get help, contact us today and speak with someone to begin your transition into a state of wellness and recovery.