Addiction Rehabilitation and Recovery Process
by Zeiad Fakhouri, M.D.
The addiction rehabilitation and addiction recovery process are individualized processes. There is no treatment plan that is the perfect fit for everyone, however, all treatment plans do share some similarities and must be approached one step at a time.
Addiction affects the way the brain works, meaning that each approach should address all areas of life. Because mental disorders are often linked to addiction, they must be treated in addition to the actual addiction. Everyone should have easy access to treatment when they need it the most, and often, medicinal treatment is necessary and should be used along with therapy. Plans should be tailored for the individual in order for them to be the most successful.
There are two treatment types of addiction rehabilitation:
- Inpatient treatment removes the addicts from their old ways of life entirely, placing them into a facility that is supervised. This helps eliminate stress by removing the individual from temptation and the ability to relapse during both the detoxification (or detox) and the rehabilitation processes.During the detox process, 24-hour medical supervision is provided in most inpatient facilities. Patients are often restricted from contacting their family and friends during the first portion of the treatment, allowing them to focus on their recovery without the distractions of the outside world.In an inpatient addiction rehabilitation program, the patient lives with other addicts who are also struggling with addiction. These facilities vary in how they operate, meaning that some facilities offer 24/7 supervision. Others allow the patients to leave the facility on certain occasions when approved by their clinician. The length of the stay also varies. They can be as little as 30 days or as long as a year. These facilities can be extremely expensive. Often, they require the patient to pay for food, room and board, and other expenses as well as for their therapy and required services. Insurance may cover some of the costs.
- Another option for the addiction rehabilitation process is outpatient treatment. While similar to inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment allows the addict to return home each night. This allows the patient to have real-world interaction while benefiting from a structured therapeutic program. Sometimes, patients are allowed to work part-time while attending treatment. This type of treatment is best for those with short-lived addictions and is not recommended for those with long-term addictions, or dual diagnosis conditions.When considering the outpatient addiction rehabilitation process, it is important to keep several things in mind, most importantly: does the facility have experience with that particular addiction? There are many all-purpose facilities that treat drug and alcohol addiction, however, it is best to find a facility that specializes in treatment for a specific drug. Facilities with experience treating a specific drug addiction are important because some drugs may have withdrawal symptoms that are unique to that drug. Different drugs also affect the mind differently and the staff would need to have experience in handling the physical, emotional, and psychological aspects of the addiction in order to better help the patients and their loved ones. In outpatient treatment, flexibility is important. Many patients want to keep their lives as close to normal as they possibly can. They also offer flexibility as far as programs that evolve as treatments change.
Most addiction recovery programs begin with detox before the actual rehabilitation treatment begins. The detox removes all traces of the drugs or alcohol from the body in some cases; in other cases, maintenance medication is given to counteract the symptoms of withdrawal associated with drugs such as opiates and heroin. The severity of the withdrawal symptoms vary from patient to patient and often depend on the substance, how long they have been addicted, the dosage levels, and if there are other addictions involved. The body becomes accustomed to having the substance when taken regularly and, once that substance is removed, it goes into a type of shock. Symptoms can occur immediately, however, most will occur within 24 hours after the last dose, according to the US National Library of Medicine.
The symptoms of withdrawal include but are not limited to:
- Difficulty Sleeping
- Trouble breathing
- Difficulties concentrating
The type of treatment, and whether there is medication or not, during detox depends on the substance. Before detox, trained medical personnel determine how much assistance they may or may not need to assist patients. For example, addictions to cocaine or marijuana may not need medications. Heroin, opiates, Benzodiazepine and alcohol, however, often require medication to combat the severity of the withdrawal symptoms. Generally, detox is safe when it is undergone in a facility supervised by medical personnel. An attempt by addicts to detox on their own is considered unsafe.
Once the addicts have safely gone through detox, they move on to the actual addiction rehabilitation process. In this process, they will get into the core reasons behind their addiction. They will address those issues, enabling them to move on with their lives without going back to addiction. They will take part in both individual behavioral therapy and group therapy:
- In individual behavioral therapy, the addicts identify when they began using the substance and why. They will learn to identify and control their triggers and avoid cravings as well as develop strategies on how to direct their focus to new hobbies or interests.
- In addition to addressing the root of the addiction, addicts learn time management skills that will allow them to better use their time; leaving them less time to think about the substance and reduce the risk of relapse. The individual behavioral therapy will also help the patients to reform their thinking patterns, make behavioral changes toward a healthier life, and address the thoughts that they have in relation to substance abuse or life. Group therapy sessions allow recovering addicts to interact with others in the same situation. This is helpful because it lets them know that they are not alone. It can be beneficial for them to share their own stories of addiction and recovery. It also helps the addict develop a support system.Because addiction affects many people other than the addicts themselves, most facilities will also offer therapy for those who are most deeply affected by the addict’s addiction: the family. In family therapy sessions, the family members discuss the pain caused by their loved ones’ addictions and their desire to see the addict live a healthier life. The therapy can also help resolve issues within the family so that they may come together to support the patient during their addiction recovery.
When the addict leaves the treatment facility after completing their program, they enter the addiction recovery process. Because their recovery is a lifelong process, many facilities provide follow-up addiction recovery programs that will assist the addicts in returning to normal life. A sober living facility, in which several recovering addicts live together, perform chores, work outside jobs, and attend group therapy offers a transition from the facility to a normal life. Weekend stays at the facility may also be offered when the addict feels that they may need a touch-up stay to avoid relapsing.
Other programs available to addicts in the addiction recovery process are Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, two well-known 12-step groups that are easily accessible. A complete list of counselors specializing in addiction, along with similar resources is available to you at the front desk of this office.