What Is Meant by “Revolving Doors” in Addiction Treatment?

Treatment centers can vary in the expectation of stay for those in recovery. We may have heard phrases like “revolving doors” or “frequent fliers” in addiction treatment. What does this mean, and how can you prevent these potential pitfalls for successful treatment from addiction? 

“Revolving doors” refers to treatment centers where people seem to come in-and-out frequently. Generally, facilities that are considered to have revolving doors have short stays or no means of keeping people engaged in long-term recovery. Short-term stays may work for some people. However, many people benefit from long-term stays in sober living from three months to a full year. The habits that we have formed during addiction need to be given an appropriate amount of time to change. Shorter stays of only a few weeks often do not provide a person enough time to form new habits. As people go in and out of short term treatment centers in a rapid cycle of treatment-relapse-treatment-relapse, they may be referred to as “frequent fliers” in recovery. 

Forming New Habits Takes Time

What is a habit? Generally speaking, a habit is a behavior that a person engages in automatically or with very little thought. Patterns can help us minimize how much conscious time we spend on making decisions. When a behavior is completed consistently and over a long period, we can usually engage in conduct somewhat effortlessly or with little mental resistance. When forming healthy habits or making any change, our bodies and minds initially resist. Our minds are wired to get us through our day by spending the least amount of calories possible. Thinking and other brain functions expend calories. When learning new things, we burn calories in our brains to understand the task. Forming new habits requires our minds to burn more calories than usual. We may resist the activity to keep our bodies operating at a consistent caloric rate. Holding ourselves accountable to a consistent schedule will help us override our brain’s resistance to forming healthy habits and change for the better. 

Most people have heard something to the effect of “it takes 21 days to form a new habit.” If this were true, then recovery programs of about three weeks should be sufficient. However, the duration needed to form a new habit is much longer. Most people’s actual time to create a new routine is anywhere from two months to eight months on average! Several factors can influence the time required to form new habits. Some habits may be more comfortable for one person to learn due to their experience. For example, let’s say two people want to learn to play the ukulele. If one person can play the guitar and the other person has never played an instrument in their life, which one will be more likely to learn to play the ukulele faster? Other factors influencing habit formation can be the relative difficulty of the task and the learning environment.

The Importance of Supportive Environments

Information about recovery is everywhere. There are self-help books available, and a plethora of information about addiction recovery is all over the internet. However, if we try to master these skills or learn these new, healthy habits in non-supportive environments, we will be less likely to succeed. Sometimes, our home environments are disruptive or triggering and can make recovery difficult. When we enter a supportive and structured environment for long periods, we improve our recovery chances. Imagine trying to stay sober in a home where people drink daily? A supportive environment with others who are clean and sober can lead to better outcomes for those in recovery. 

Treatment facilities can vary in the length of stay and the structure of support within. When looking for a treatment center or a sober living home, we might increase our chances of success by finding programs with minimum stays of at least three to six months. When we are in environments with others committed to long-term recovery, we can also increase our chances of success. When our peers and companions in sober living are also committed to long-term treatment, we increase our chances of forming bonds and support networks with our recovery peers. To avoid “revolving door” treatment and “frequent fliers,” we may want to look into a long-term sober living home to give ourselves time and support to learn better ways of living.


Long-term treatment facilities can help us avoid going in-and-out of treatment. Sober living homes that offer long-term stays allow us an appropriate amount of time to form new habits and make lifelong changes in our lives. Everyone learns at a different pace depending on the knowledge and skills that they already possess. When we are new to recovery concepts, we may need more extended periods to learn the skills and break our habits. Change, even for the better, will be met with some resistance by our minds. We can make this easier on ourselves by seeking the high quality, long-term treatment that we deserve! Camelback Recovery believes that individuals in recovery need time to make changes and form better habits. Call us today at (602) 466-9880 to get started on your recovery journey! We hope to reduce the number of people engaged in “revolving door” treatment. Our sober living homes can help you or a loved one live their best life!

Replacing Unhealthy Behaviors with Healthy Ones

Recovery can be defined as a process of building a healthy lifestyle and making lifelong changes to better our lives. If you are in recovery, you have most likely had some unhealthy habits and behaviors that have held you back from growth and change.

When you engage in the recovery process, you may have to give up a lot of your unhealthy habits. While these unhealthy habits or behaviors were not conducive to building a meaningful life, they were likely motivated by fulfilling some need or want.

To find suitable replacement behaviors, you have to consider the underlying motivations of your unhealthy behaviors. When you know why you engaged in your addictive behaviors, you can start to explore healthier options to meet the same needs, wants, or desires.

Behavior: A Form of Communication

Most of our behaviors serve as a way of communicating something to ourselves or others. Generally, behaviors are ways of communicating about what we want by taking action to obtain those things. What purpose did your unhealthy behaviors serve? What were you trying to communicate by engaging in them? Here are six common reasons people give for their unhealthy behaviors:

  1. The need to belong. Peer pressure is a common reason that people engage in risky behaviors. Peer pressure is motivated by the need to be accepted and liked. The need to belong and having a sense of community is a strong motivator for behaviors, both healthy and unhealthy.
  2. Boredom. Sometimes, we are simply bored and are unsure of healthy ways to quell our boredom. We may have grown up with parents who also engaged in unhealthy recreational activities, such as drinking excessively or using drugs. We may not have a good example to follow for how to occupy our time appropriately.
  3. Co-occurring disorders. Some of us have underlying co-occurring mental health issues that drive our unhealthy behaviors. Some people use alcohol to cope with social anxiety. Others may become addicted to drugs to cope with depression. If our primary motivation is that we are seeking relief from mental anguish, then we can seek healthy treatment options for our mental wellness.
  4. Pain management. We may be suffering from chronic pain and use unhealthy methods of numbing the pain by using alcohol or other substances. We also might find ourselves addicted to substances following dependence on pain management medications. Underlying emotional and physical issues might need to be addressed for recovery.
  5. Trauma. People may behave in unhealthy ways to deal with trauma or to numb themselves from past experiences. Risky or unhealthy habits might serve as a distraction from thinking about our traumatic past.
  6. Stress. We may not have learned healthy ways to manage stress or other emotions. Unhealthy behaviors might be our way of coping with stress. However, they usually lead to a lower quality of life and can cause more problems than the issues we sought to solve. Stress management techniques, like mindfulness and deep breathing, can enhance our quality of life and help us in our recovery.

Did any of these stick out to you as a motivation for some of your unhealthy habits? If so, now you can begin to find healthy methods of obtaining the same needs. When you engage in healthy behaviors, you set yourself up for growth and positive changes.

Healthy Replacement Behaviors

Healthy replacement behaviors are ways of meeting our needs with ways that do not cause more problems in our lives. For those of us in recovery, we may need to explore some of our hobbies and interests to find new activities to fill our time.

We might want to try physical fitness or other exercise programs to release natural endorphins that make us feel good. We may need to learn to express our emotions to heal from them, rather than numbing them to escape our pain. We might need to make some life changes to manage our stress levels.

We also may need to learn how to say “no” and set boundaries with others, who pressure us to do things we do not want to do. Once you understand your motivations, you can begin to find healthy coping mechanisms. Recovery is the process of replacing your unhealthy behaviors with healthy ones.

Healthy behaviors enhance our lives and help us change for the better. On your recovery path, you will learn new ways of living that may not have been apparent to you before. Be open-minded and try new things to live the best life on your journey of recovery.

One of the hardest parts of recovery is changing our habits. Most of us are so accustomed to our routines that we have a difficult time making any changes, even changes for the better. Sometimes we know we want to make a change, yet we are unsure of where to start. By understanding our underlying motivations, we can begin to find healthy replacements for our unhealthy and unfulfilling habits. Once we understand why we behave a certain way, we can begin to find alternatives to achieve similar ends. We might need some time in a positive and supportive environment to create new habits. Change is hard, but you do not have to do it alone. At Camelback Recovery, we teach replacement behaviors to help others learn new ways of replacing bad habits. Call us today at (602) 466-9880 for more information to help you or a loved one!