Addiction is a progressive, deadly disease that affects the lives of millions of people each year. No one, or group of people is immune to addiction, as it effects those in every demographic; age group, income bracket, profession, race, geographic location, and intelligence level. As addiction has spread across societies worldwide, addiction rehabilitation has become the medical standard for treatment.
What is Addiction Rehabilitation?
Addiction rehabilitation is the course of treatment that is required for complete healing from addiction and its causes, but not all addiction rehabilitation is the same, nor is it all equally effective. Like addiction, there are many steps and factors to addiction rehabilitation as well. First, there is a system most every addiction rehabilitation program utilizes, which is a step-by-step process of:
- The detoxification process is one in which the chemicals and toxins from drug and alcohol abuse are removed from the body under medical supervision. Prior to this process, one’s physical health, the length and severity of his or her addiction, and any other potential complications are taken into account. Depending on these factors and the drug(s) of abuse, detoxification can take from 3-14 days.
- The therapeutic part of addiction rehab generally begins after detox has been completed, and consists of a variety of therapy methods (depending on the program) including individual therapy to address underlying issues with an addict, group therapy sessions to promote fellowship, and classes/courses to improve skills and tools for maintaining sobriety after treatment
- Aftercare is a part of most addiction rehab programs, and its scope varies widely, depending on the individual program. Generally, aftercare encompasses the process of preparing for life outside the rehabilitation walls, and providing support for a recovering addict once he or she has left treatment.
This is but a general outline of what addiction rehabilitation is, and it is very important to understand that there are considerable differences in the manner in which each of these steps are performed between various rehab programs. Considering the massive problems inherent to addiction and its causes, if addiction rehabilitation is going to work, it must be able to comprehensively, and individually address each of the three main factors involved with addiction in order to break the cycle. As such, an effective addiction rehabilitation program will have a much more specific and individually tailored program track that can address each issue in steps, and in a manner that is most conducive to each individual’s personal healing process. Many addiction rehab centers have developed a specific method to healing, offering niche treatment paths such as:
- Religious based (i.e. Christian, Catholic, Islam Faith, Buddhist, Scientology)
- Holistic based, focused on mind, body, and spirit without specific religious ties
- 12-Step based, strictly following the 12-Steps to recovery
- Gender specific, catering to only men or only women
- Alternative lifestyle treatment, for the LGBT community
- Adolescent treatment for youths struggling with addiction
For any individual going through any process of healing or self improvement, the ability to be comfortable among peers, and relate on a personal level can make all the difference between success and failure.
To understand why addiction rehabilitation is what it is, one must first understand why it is necessary. Many of those who find themselves or loved one trapped in addiction are severely confused about how it happened in the first place, and how it persists despite deep desires and previous attempts to overcome it. The resolutions for these dilemmas are found in two key aspects of addiction that are rooted in the individual.
How Does Addiction Start?
Most every addict has some form of trauma, a co-occurring mental health disorder, and/or deep rooted issue(s) stemming from pain, neglect, unaddressed transgressions, and/or grief. They have suffered some kind of painful or traumatic event in life, whether it is the loss of a loved one, severe financial difficulties, or abuse. These events have a devastating effect on an individual, and can create an environment full of sadness, anxiety, grief, and/or depression within that person. While every individual has his or her own way of handling stress, many do not have the coping tools to do so in a constructive way. This often leads them to destructive behaviors, and most common among them are dug and alcohol addiction. The fact is that all people must find a way to cope with unpleasantness in life, and if one copes with drugs and/or alcohol, then develops an addiction, it is important to understand that the addiction is merely a symptom (or side effect) of the real problem. The real problem is two-fold, consisting of:
- The initial pain or issue(s) that caused unmanageable emotions, and the desire to escape them.
- A lack of coping skills and tools to handle the issues in a positive and healthy manner
When the devastation of addiction is added to the initial problem, addicts are faced with an uphill battle to find recovery and maintain sobriety. If simply removing the drugs and alcohol from one’s system were enough to resolve issues, there would never be a need for rehabilitation, and relapse would never occur. If one were happy, healthy, satisfied, and comfortable in his or her life, with proper coping and survival skills, there would not be a desire to escape through drugs and alcohol, thereby eliminating the risk of relapse. For the vast majority of addicts, there is an underlying issue that remains unresolved and continually urges them to escape the pain through drugs and/or alcohol. And this is why so many addicts use the phrase, “I wouldn’t have to use/drink if…” “If”, what? The source of pain for any given addict varies, and can be anything from a broken relationship to physical pain, or severe trauma and/or abuse. Without therapy to heal, communication skills, and constructive coping tools, any kind of pain can lead to addiction in an individual who feels overwhelmed in his or her life. Some examples of things that may cause one to feel overwhelmed to the degree that he or she seeks relief in the form of drugs and/or alcohol are as follows:
- Painful loss of a loved one or close relative
- Abuse or neglect, especially as a child
- Severe disappointment or failure in life (i.e. failed relationship or loss of income)
- Inadequate ability to express oneself and communicate one’s needs, fears, desires, and frustrations
- Mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, personality disorders, mood disorders, and impulse control disorders.
- Chronic physical pain or major surgery
- Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Unaddressed guilt from transgressions against oneself or another person
- Low self-esteem or self-loathing
Not all people who suffer from one or more of these issues will become addicted to drugs or alcohol, however an overwhelming percentage of those who are addicted suffer from some kind of inner turmoil, and lack the resources necessary to cope with life. It is for this reason that addiction rehabilitation is a necessity to truly heal from the pain, learn the skills necessary to handle the ups and downs in life, and remain sober through empowerment and self-awareness.
Is Addiction Rehabilitation Needed?
Once addicted, millions of people find themselves trapped in a vicious cycle, and despite deep desires to change for many, the road to recovery has remained elusive. By definition, addiction is the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice, or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, to an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma. When an individual becomes addicted to drugs and/or alcohol, there are several factors at work to progressively tighten the cycle of addiction. Each one of these factors alone would require professional help, and when all three are exacerbating each other in addiction, the cumulative effects require the specified treatment offered by effective addiction rehabilitation.
Underlying issues and lack of coping skills with the individual that prompt destructive behaviors
If one were able to simply overcome difficulties, discomfort, and/or pain in life, addiction rehabilitation would be no more extensive than detoxification. However, most people lack the ability to overcome hardships independently, and require some level of support. This support may come in the form of therapy, empowerment from spiritual beliefs, confiding in a trusted friend or companion, or through support groups and organizations. For those who lack these resources or knowledge to seek them out in hard times, destructive behaviors like coping with drugs and alcohol are likely to begin. The use of drugs and alcohol to cope with, or escape from one’s pain provides a temporary relief for the individual, however the high from these substances will eventually dissipate, leaving the same painful feelings he or she attempted to quell with the use of drugs and/or alcohol. Once again, when left with no other resources for addressing this pain, an individual will go back to drugs and alcohol, which becomes a ritual of self-medicating. As addiction develops, the motives for using shift from trying to cope with life, to maintaining the addiction by placing drugs and alcohol above all else.
Withdrawal symptoms experienced by addicts during attempts to stop using
One of the most grueling parts of addiction is the withdrawal symptoms experienced by addicts when they try to stop using drugs and/or alcohol. All drugs of addiction cause psychological withdrawal symptoms, which usually involve intense cravings, sleep disruption, agitation, mood swings, and depression or anxiety. Many of these substances also produce a physical addiction that causes a variety of uncomfortable, painful, and sometimes life-threatening symptoms. Some substances of addiction that cause physical withdrawal symptoms are:
- Opiates (Painkillers)
Prior to entering an addiction rehabilitation center, most addicts will have attempted to stop using on their own at one point or another. Because of the severity of the withdrawal symptoms experienced, the inevitable result of these attempts is almost always a return to drugs and/or alcohol, just to get some relief from the discomfort and psychological pain. In the case of opiates, alcohol, benzodiazepines, and heroin, attempts to stop using without medical supervision can result in serious physical trauma. The sudden cessation of benzodiazepines and alcohol after prolonged abuse can cause trauma severe enough to result in dangerous seizures, and sometimes death. Those addicted to alcohol and/or benzodiazepines should not attempt to stop without medical consultation and supervision. Unsupervised withdrawal from drugs and alcohol can be the most uncomfortable, painful, and dangerous process an addict goes through. Without medical care to ensure safety and provide comfort, and a safe environment free of drugs and alcohol, the vast majority of addicts will return to drugs and/or alcohol to save themselves from the pain of their withdrawal symptoms.
Changes in the brain resulting from drug and/or alcohol abuse
The complicated super highway of information that is the human brain is responsible for one’s behaviors, sleep patterns, thoughts, and feelings like pleasure, pain, fear and excitement. When an individual does something that is pleasurable, the brain processes that as a reward associated with an important and/or life sustaining behavior, and reinforces the repetition of the behavior. This is why natural, survival-based activities like eating, exercising, and having sex produce moderate levels of euphoria. When an individual uses drugs and alcohol, abnormally high levels of euphoria are experienced, which dwarf the levels associated with natural activities. This effect sends the same reward message to the brain, associating drug and alcohol use with an important and/or life sustaining behavior. As such, there is a natural urge to repeat the behavior and receive the reward. As drug and alcohol use elevate, tolerance grows, requiring more of the substance(s) to achieve the same levels of euphoria. Contrarily, without the substances to produce such high levels of euphoria in a brain that has become accustomed to it, activities that would normally be pleasurable fail to stimulate the reward system, and the individual goes into withdrawal. Drug and alcohol addiction alter the brain in such a way that it becomes entirely dependent on the substance(s) for any sense of normalcy, and with growing tolerance, more of it is required for pleasure beyond a baseline normalcy.
Selecting an Addiction Rehabilitation Program
An important consideration must be the time one needs in a rehabilitation facility. Most rehab facilities operate on a 30, 45, 60, or 90 day cycle, after which recovering addicts are either sent home with the tools they’ve gained in treatment, or they can re-enroll and go through the program again. A select few rehabilitation programs are open-ended, with no time constraints, giving each person whatever time is necessary for healing and a more stable return home. The various length options of addiction rehab are a vital consideration, especially for those who may need more than a set period of time allows for healing. Another key aspect to finding the right addiction rehabilitation program is in the aftercare phase of treatment. Returning home from treatment is among the most uncertain and unstable of times for many newly recovered addicts. This is a time when he or she will be confronted with a myriad of triggers, and reminders of addictive behaviors, places, people, and things. Upon returning home, an addict must be able to utilize the tools he or she learned in treatment to avoid and reject the influences that serve as triggers for relapse, and unfortunately for many, these triggers are everywhere. For example, if the underlying issue with an addict is a member of his or her family, then the very presence or thought of that person can be enough to derail the progress made in treatment if a strong foundation for sobriety has not been established. Many other potential triggers like past friends with whom the individual used drugs and/or alcohol, places associated with addiction, routines surrounding addictive behaviors, and stressful situations inherent with life in general can be all that is necessary for a recovering addict to relapse.
Addiction rehabilitation is specifically tailored to treat addicts, and depending on where one turns to get help for his or her addiction, rehabilitation can result in everlasting sobriety and happiness, or a road leading right back to relapse and continued addiction. Sorting through the plethora of choices available can be daunting, but it is among the most important tasks on an addict’s road to recovery. So, what is the best choice for addiction rehabilitation for yourself or your loved one? The answer lies in the addict, his or her personal issues, preferences, and belief system. Understanding why addiction rehabilitation is necessary provides a great deal of perspective regarding what kind of treatment program is best for any given addict to achieve recovery. If you or a loved one is suffering from drug or alcohol addiction, call us now to talk with a trained counselor about the various treatment options available, and which of them is best, based on individual needs, preferences, and beliefs. We understand how devastating and confusing addiction is, and we are here to help make sense of it, and provide solutions to overcome all aspects of it. There is a way out of addiction, and we can help guide you to find the right path for your needs. Call now!