Helping people get clean and sober and sustaining long-term recovery are the primary goals of any substance abuse treatment program. Achieving this is often possible using a combination of intensive therapeutic services and continuing aftercare. Although this is possible to do on one’s own, research has shown that the best outcomes are achieved when a person undergoes a comprehensive addiction program and continues with long-term therapy and counseling.
The First Step is Recognizing the Problem
Before a person can get clean and sober, he or she must recognize the need for treatment. It may be daunting to admit that there is a problem, but if drug or alcohol abuse is interfering with school, work, school, or relationships, professional treatment is likely needed.
If a loved one is suffering from an addiction, it may be necessary to stage an intervention in an attempt to convince them that they have a problem and need help. Addiction specialists and those trained in these types of interventions can help guide loved ones through this process and offer the best chance for its success.
The next step is to seek professional treatment from a licensed and accredited rehab center as soon as possible. It is also essential to learn about the challenges you may face and begin to understand what the process of recovery is really all about.
Withdrawal symptoms are a significant challenge for recovery from substance abuse. Some substances cause severe withdrawal symptoms when the user abruptly stops using the drug. Withdrawal symptoms are the result of dependence, a condition in which the body has adapted a substance’s presence and cannot function “normally” without it. These symptoms can be highly pleasant, dangerous, and can compel the user to relapse to ease withdrawal symptoms.
For this reason and others, it is not recommended that a drug or alcohol abuser try to quit “cold turkey” without undergoing a medical detox. Severe complications, both physical and emotional, can arise. In some cases, such as those related to alcohol or benzodiazepines, withdrawal can be life-threatening.
Another danger for many is that relapse can result in an overdose. This may be more likely as a person’s tolerance has been reduced, and if the user tries to return to a previous dose, their body may be no longer equipped to handle it.
Never Underestimate Triggers
It may not be that hard to remain sober while undergoing a treatment program because the environment is drug-free and conducive to sobriety. And the longer a person receives treatment, the greater the likelihood that he or she will be equipped to remain sober long-term. However, after treatment is over and a person returns to the real world, he or she will be faced with many of the same stresses and triggers that were present before.
Unfortunately, relapse is considered to be a relatively normal event in recovery. Overconfidence in one’s ability to cope with life’s stresses is one of the main reasons why people relapse, even those who have been in recovery for years. For this reason, it’s vital to use the coping skills learned in treatment actively and reach out for help at the first inkling that a return to using may be imminent.
Understanding Addiction Recovery
Addiction recovery, in some ways, is a life-long process that involves several stages before a person can wholly be free from dependence on alcohol or drugs. Individuals go through these stages in different ways, and the duration of time required depends on the person’s personality and genetic makeup, the environment in which they live, and the properties of the specific substance of abuse.
For some types of drugs, such as benzodiazepines, a gradual tapering of the dose over time under the care of a trained healthcare provider may be needed to reduce withdrawal symptoms and prevent relapse. Such a tapering process may extend the length of time it takes to recover from chemical dependence and may affect emotional dependence, as well.
Leaning on the support of family and friends is another essential component of recovery. This, in and of itself, can sometimes pose a challenge, especially if many of the former user’s friends or family are still using drugs or alcohol. For this reason, the person in recovery may have to find a new support group of friends who are already clean and sober. Peer support groups and sponsors can often fill this role.
In some cases, family therapy or counseling may be necessary to help the former user’s family members understand the treatment process. Therapy of this kind can show loved ones different ways they can offer support and be helpful in fostering the individual’s recovery.
Treatment for substance abuse should be customized to the specific needs of the person seeking treatment. Not all treatment approaches work as effectively for all people. Also, chemical addiction often requires different treatment options than one that is primarily psychological in nature.
And, notably, there are frequently co-occurring mental health conditions that people who abuse substances experience, such as anxiety or depression. These disorders must be addressed in conjunction with addiction in order for treatment to be effective.
Currently, the most common forms of intensive treatment are heavily based on behavioral therapy, counseling, and group support. In some instances, medication is also necessary to wean the person off of a drug or to prevent withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings that could hinder a person’s ability to remain clean and sober.
Treatment can be performed in a hospital, detox or rehab center, or at home using outpatient services. In many cases, a medical detox followed by intensive treatment is the best approach to ensuring that an individual is given the best chance for recovery.
During medical detox, a person is monitored by healthcare professionals and provided with medications and emotional support while the body rids itself of drugs and alcohol. While detox is the first step, it doesn’t address the underlying causes of substance abuse, which is something that an intensive recovery program is designed to do.
Addiction treatment programs offer clients assessment, support, structure, therapy, counseling, and medication to assist in their recovery. These programs can also help to address the underlying issues that contribute to drug abuse in the first place, and teach people how to replace their maladaptive substance abuse with healthy habits and behaviors.
Getting Treatment for Addiction
Harmony Recovery Center offers comprehensive, individualized addiction treatment programs in partial hospitalization and outpatient formats. We specialize in both substance abuse and co-occurring mental health disorders, such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, and more.
Our programs feature evidence-based therapies and services beneficial to the recovery process, including, but not limited to, the following:
- Behavioral therapy
- Individual and family counseling
- Group support
- Art and music therapy
- Mindfulness meditation and yoga
- Substance abuse education
- Health and wellness education
- Aftercare planning
After the initial treatment is complete, the recovering addict should collaborate with a healthcare provider or other specialist to develop a plan to avoid triggers and prevent relapse in the future. Relapse prevention is just as vital as detox and treatment because failure at this stage can undo much of the progress already achieved.
If you or someone you love is struggling to get clean and sober, contact us today and find out how we can help!