The disease of addiction can ruin lives and tear families apart. Nothing is harder for a parent or spouse than the sleepless nights waiting for “the call” from law enforcement or an emergency room. Most people cannot imagine the suffering that takes place when a family member is addicted to drugs or alcohol. Once the individual either accepts the idea of getting treatment or is court-ordered to treatment, families often breathe a sigh of relief as if a magic wand can instantly create lifelong sobriety.
In actuality, sobriety and lifelong recovery is a process. Unlike many diseases, there is no prescription to take where a doctor says take this medication for one week and you’ll feel like new. Addiction is incurable; it can only be managed, much like diabetes or hypertension.
Success in recovery can be dependent on many different factors. A stay in detox alone will not cure someone from wanting drugs or alcohol. It only clears the mind and body of the toxins. Detox is simply a step in the process.
Next, an addict must accept they have a problem with drugs or alcohol. Many people enter treatment still in denial. They may go to please a family member or avoid jail time for a substance abuse related charge. Some cannot comprehend what it means to spend the rest of their life without use of drugs or alcohol. They enter treatment believing they will gain control of their addiction; they will be able to use again one day and they will be in control. These individuals face a longer, tougher road than those who seek treatment wanting to change their lives. Once in treatment, as they learn about their disease, even reluctant clients begin to see the damage they have done to themselves and their families. They begin to accept that they do have an issue and become engaged in the treatment process.
Treatment addresses many individual needs ranging from good physical health, which includes diet and exercise, mental health, self-esteem, coping mechanisms and the underlying issues that lead to the initial use/abuse. Going to treatment and choosing a life of recovery means adapting and embracing new habits, new beliefs and a new lifestyle. Much like a diabetic, in order to be successful, healthy behaviors need to replace harmful, unhealthy actions.
Here are some examples of items that are addressed in a well-rounded treatment program:
Diet – Most people know that good nutrition is important. When you are dealing with addiction, good nutrition is even more crucial. Diet can contribute to cravings for drugs and alcohol and adequate nutrients can help the body heal and make it easier to resist the urges.
Stress management – Many people with an addictive disorder have an inability to cope with the normal stresses of life. Good stress management skills are an essential for preventing a future relapse. Stress can’t be avoided and a recovering addict will find it too easy to use drugs and alcohol unless they have learned better coping skills.
Counseling – Frequently, clients have underlying issues that have been the root cause of their addiction. This may be a personal trauma or hardship, pain management or possibly a mental health disorder. Supportive, focused counseling helps clients deal with these issues. While various evidence-based treatment techniques are applied for different situations, resolution or management of these issues is an essential component toward lifelong sobriety.
Aftercare/Sober Housing – Once a client successfully completes a stay in treatment, they should attend regular aftercare sessions, or consider living in a sober housing facility to reinforce the new behaviors learned in rehab.
While there may be a desire to rush through treatment, it is important to remember that treatment is a process and there is no benefit to rushing through and leaving issues unresolved.