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Addiction treatment encompasses a range of stages and interventions that work to address the challenges you’ll face in recovery as well as providing help for loved ones along the way. Rather than a cookie-cutter type process, the treatment process is different for everyone in terms of individual need and duration of treatment.
Through each stage of recovery, the addiction treatment process will meet you every step of the way. Understanding how the addiction treatment process works can help you make an informed decision once you’re ready to get needed treatment help.
Treatment Myths About Addiction Recovery
Considering how addiction skews your thinking and emotions, entering addiction treatment can be one of the most difficult decisions you’ll make in your life. As important as it may be, treatment myths about addiction recovery can feed these doubts and make the choice all the more difficult.
Gaining a clear understanding of addiction recovery means dispelling any myths that breed misinformation. Common misconceptions about addiction recovery include:
- It’s all a matter of willpower
- It’s easier once you hit rock bottom
- You can quit on your own if you really want to
- You’re fully recovered once drug use stops
Addiction isn’t about choice or willpower. Addiction takes root within a person’s thinking and becomes a part of who he or she is. For these reasons, overcoming addiction’s influence means stepping outside your frame of reference and getting needed treatment help.
When all is said and done, it’s normal to feel afraid at this critical point in your recovery. What’s most important is to move past the fear and take back control of your life.
The Addiction Treatment Process
Whether you’re dealing with a drug or alcohol problem, addiction treatment entails a process of healing on both a physical and mental/emotional level. The more severe your addiction problem, the longer the addiction treatment process should take.
The treatment process unfolds in stages, with each stage designed to help you work on different aspects of recovery. Throughout this process, addiction counselors are there to provide ongoing support. Addiction counselors also create your treatment plan and aftercare plan.
Drug and Alcohol Detox
Not surprisingly, stopping drug use altogether becomes the first step in the addiction treatment process. If you’ve abused drugs or alcohol on an ongoing basis, you probably already know how difficult it can be to abstain from using for prolonged time periods.
In effect, drug and alcohol detox provides you with the treatment supports needed to make it through this difficult stage. Treatment supports can vary depending on the severity of your addiction and may include:
- 24-hour, round-the-clock care and monitoring
- Relieving withdrawal symptom severity
- Proper diet and exercise
- Medication therapies, such as Antabuse or methadone (for severe addiction problems)
Inpatient Rehab vs. Outpatient Rehab
While most people entering addiction treatment will require some form of detox treatment, the need for inpatient versus outpatient rehab depends on the severity of your addiction problem. Inpatient rehab offers the most intensive level of care, while outpatient rehab offers the least intensive level of care.
People who enter treatment at the early stages of addiction may only require outpatient care, especially in cases where job and family obligations are an issue. Outpatient programs allow for considerable freedom and flexibility, so a person can schedule treatment sessions around his or her existing schedule.
It’s not uncommon for people coming off severe addiction problems to develop chronic medical and/or psychological problems as a result of drug use. People struggling with severe or long-term addiction problems will likely require the type of intensive treatment approach offered by inpatient programs. Inpatient programs provide medical, psychological and addiction treatment help.
Medications for Addictions
During the course of addiction treatment, people recovering from severe or long-term addiction may be prescribed medication for addictions, or medication therapies to help them maintain abstinence on an ongoing basis. While not everyone who enters addiction treatment will require medication therapy, those who do greatly benefit from the added treatment support.
With chronic addiction problems, the damaging effects of drugs or alcohol have actually “rewired” the brain to the point where it can no longer function normally in the absence of the drug. Medication therapies, such as methadone, buprenorphine, and Antabuse work to restore normal brain functioning. In the process, a person gains considerable relief from persistent drug cravings and withdrawal aftereffects.
To date, medication therapies are only available for opiate- and alcohol-based based addictions.
Behavioral Treatment Therapies
Behavioral treatment therapies play a central role throughout the addiction treatment process. Behavior-based treatments address the psychological aspect of addiction in terms of thinking, emotions and daily behaviors. The need for behavior treatment therapies stems from how long-term drug and alcohol use change how the brain works.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, behavior treatment therapies can vary in purpose, with different therapies treating different types of problems. Some of the most commonly used therapies include:
- Motivational Enhancement Therapy – helps replace addiction-based thoughts and behaviors with habits and routines that build a healthy lifestyle; works especially well for people affected by co-occurring psychological disorders, such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorders
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – helps you identify addiction-based thoughts and emotions so you can better avoid relapse triggers
- Faith-Based Treatment – a behavior-based change that uses spiritual principles and a reliance on a higher power
- Biofeedback – uses biofeedback therapy to help you control temptations to use
- Experiential Therapy – designed to help you work through repressed emotions that drive addiction behavior; uses non-traditional approaches, such as rock climbing and wilderness therapy
- Holistic Therapy – uses meditation, acupuncture and yoga therapies to promote a “whole person” wellness
- Dialectal Behavior Therapy – commonly used to treat severe psychological disorders and addiction; this therapy works to enhance self-esteem and improve stress management skills
In effect, behavior treatment therapies equip you with the tools needed for coping with triggers that prompt drug use. Addiction counselors play a primary role in conducting behavior-based treatment therapies.
Addiction recovery doesn’t end when the treatment program ends, but rather continues to provide the level of support needed to help you maintain continued abstinence. For this reason, your program addiction counselor will prepare an aftercare plan based on your treatment needs.
While everyone’s situation is different, aftercare treatment interventions may include one or more of the following:
Support Group Options
Support group options run the gamut in terms of the types of approaches used. Some of the most common support group types include:
With the exception of SMART Recovery, all of the above group types are based on the Alcoholics Anonymous model, which emphasizes the importance of getting support and giving support and encouragement within a group setting. SMART Recovery groups focus on controlling addictive behaviors by working though the underlying thoughts and emotions that drive the addiction.
Sober Living Homes
Going from an addiction treatment program back to normal, everyday life can be jarring and can easily compromise a person’s recovery progress. For people coming off chronic or long-term addiction problems, sober living homes offer a more gradual way to transition between the treatment program environment and the “real world.”
Sober living programs operate as semi-independent environments where individuals are required to:
- Maintain employment
- Take care of the home
- Pay rent
- Attend weekly support meetings
- Maintain sobriety
This aftercare treatment option can be a lifesaver for someone who’s struggled with addiction for a number of years.
Treatment Help for Loved Ones
The effects of addiction can cause considerable hardship for loved ones. In effect, ensuring loved ones receive needed treatment help not only addresses their mental and emotional needs but also works to further support your recovery efforts.
Treatment options for loved ones may take the form of:
- Individual therapy
- Family therapy
- Support groups, such as Al-Anon, Adult Children for Alcoholics or Alateen
- Intervention training, in terms of how to stage an intervention in the event of a relapse
If you’re looking for local addiction rehab, our programs can be found in: