When you’re looking for substance abuse treatment for you or a loved one, you have two distinct choices: a therapeutic community or a rehab center. Each has their pros and cons, depending on your circumstances. To help you make an informed decision, let’s size these treatment models up regarding:

  • Approach to treatment
  • Behavioral Support
  • Rules
  • Cost
  • Length of stay
  • Success rate

Let’s get started:

Approach to Treatment

Both rehab centers and therapeutic communities provide targeted support, care, and structure. They also require you to regularly attend one-on-one and/or group therapy sessions.

However, therapeutic communities go a step further. While many short-term facilities can help you treat your symptoms, therapeutic communities focus on the root cause of your addiction. Because you stay in a therapeutic community longer, recovery is just the start of your treatment. You’re giving your brain time to heal, and then working alongside your peers to learn, grow, and develop the tools you need to adopt a new lifestyle, a sense of self-worth and belonging, and be better prepared for the outside world.

Behavioral Support

Rehab centers and therapeutic communities provide a safe space to detox and focus on your recovery. Rehab centers have licensed healthcare professionals who ensure your safety throughout your treatment. You also form a community with other people in rehabilitation, fostering a supportive environment and further promoting recovery.

Therapeutic communities like the Volken Academy often have programs created by addiction professionals and healthy-living specialists. While program directors and other staff are present, the main idea behind a therapeutic community is the sense of community itself. You’re responsible not only for your recovery, but also for the recovery of your peers. 

Long-term residential treatment facilities give you the time to build and strengthen your community, promoting stability and a genuine sense of caring for others in your community. By working together to help each other during their recovery, you’re learning the skills you need to be successful on your own journey. 

Rules at Rehab Centers and Therapeutic Communities

The rules of rehab facilities and therapeutic communities are fairly similar.

According to The Recovery Village, the six rules at drug rehab are:

  1. No electronics (cell phones, computers, TV, etc.)
  2. Drug and alcohol abstinence is required
  3. No relationship with peers in rehab
  4. Attendance is required at all sessions
  5. Your schedule is highly structured
  6. You’re restricted on where you can go

According to The Change Communities, the six rules of a therapeutic community are:

  1. No escape or attempts to escape
  2. No possession or use of weapons allowed
  3. You can’t make imminent threats or be violent
  4. No sexual misconduct
  5. Drug and alcohol abstinence is required
  6. No gang-related or racially-motivated activities are allowed

As you can imagine, many of the rules on one of these lists also apply to the other. 


Unfortunately, rehab facilities and therapeutic community treatment centers aren’t cheap. On average, you can expect to pay between $14,000 and $27,000 for 30 days in rehab, while therapeutic communities cost between $20,430 and $44,616.

However, this isn’t the case with the Volken Academy. Our community center costs $7,000, which includes a $5,000 one-time in-take fee and a $2,000 incidental fee.

Length of Stay

How long you’re in each of these centers vary greatly. 

On average, your stay at a rehab center tends to be around 28 days, but can sometimes be as long as 90 days. 

Since therapeutic community centers focus more on community function and structure, the average length of stay is around one year. As members progress on their journey to recovery, they take on different responsibilities and roles within their community. 

The Volken Academy’s program is 2 years long. As you progress, community members begin to take on more senior or mentor-like roles when helping newer members on their journeys. 

Success Rate

The US National Institute on Drug Abuse reveals a huge difference in program success rates. 

On average, rehab centers have a 16% – 20% sobriety success rate. This can be demoralizing, because your chances of relapse are high, and sometimes make you feel even worse than you did before. 

Therapeutic communities have a 70% success rate, though there’s reason to believe that your length of stay can provide you with even better odds of maintaining your sobriety. 

Conclusion: Where Should You Go?

While therapeutic communities require a longer stay, they often offer the time and support you need to achieve transformational change. To learn how you can benefit from one of these communities, contact the Volken Academy today.