The Myth of Choice
Addiction affects not only the physical body but the mind as well, and it can trigger or worsen mental disorders.
Addiction manifests in different ways. Its symptoms include impaired control of one’s craving or urges, social problems like inability to maintain professional or personal relationships, continued use of the substance or participation in an activity despite the risks that come with it, and physical effects like higher tolerance for the drug and experiencing withdrawal symptoms upon stopping its use. Tobacco, alcohol, and drug use are also key contributors to the cases of preventable disease and death in the US.
Despite the well-documented detrimental effects of addiction, many people who suffer from the condition remain unable to overcome their compulsive behaviors. Compassion comes by sparingly for a person with addiction if the prevailing public opinion on the disorder is that it’s a choice, a consequence of being a bad person, or a sign of weakness and poor judgment. At the same time, people with addictive behaviors are often burdened with the shame, self-blame, and stigma that come with the disorder, and these can prevent them from seeking the help they need.
Dealing with Denial
The first step to recovering from addiction is acknowledging that the problem exists. However, a person who is deeply affected by the disorder may be unable or unwilling to face the problem without help from others.
Denial plays a significant role in addiction. Refusal to acknowledge the reality of one’s situation is a form of self-deception that allows people to maintain a positive view of themselves. People in denial lack the ability to cope with negative events, and they may consciously or unconsciously put up defenses to avoid feeling them. Addiction may damage their health, career, relationships, and future prospects, but the person in question will not include these negative effects in their decision-making process. In this way, denial contributes to their inability to ask for help.
On the other hand, denial can also stem from feelings of shame, guilt, and low self-worth due to addiction. Acknowledging the effects of addiction means coming face-to-face with the consequences of their addictive habits, often done through acts that undermine a person’s values and responsibilities and hurt the people they care for. Recognizing the consequences of these actions requires the person to quit the habits that caused them in the first place. Denial, then, can be an attempt at avoiding the psychological toll of quitting the habit.
If a person with addiction is struggling to see the consequences of the disorder, then they’ll need the help of another to recognize the problem and begin their journey to recovery.
An intervention initiated by family and friends can help a person see exactly how addiction has affected their life. This refers to a carefully planned process wherein the person with addiction is confronted with the consequences of the disorder in an effort to convince them to commit to getting help. Ideally, interventions are done with the guidance of a doctor, interventionist, or a drug and alcohol counselor.
The intervention should provide examples of destructive behaviors that made an impact on the person’s loved ones, offer a treatment plan with clear goals and a structured program, and state the consequences of refusing treatment for addiction disorders.
Interventions require proper planning, research, and a core team of individuals who will participate in it. It’s important to take detailed notes of what each individual should say and to decide on what the plan of action should be if the person with addiction disorder rejects the offer for assistance. Refusing to get treatment may require the person to move out of the family home, for example.
After holding the intervention meeting, the team should continue supporting their loved one in the journey to sobriety. The support group members can do this by signing up for their own therapy session, participating in counseling sessions with the person with addiction disorder, or by researching methods on how to avoid relapse and how to deal with it should it happen.
First Steps to Recovery
Choosing to participate in a rehabilitation program is a solid step toward healing. Here are the preliminary steps that a patient typically has to go through when signing up for a rehabilitation program
- Admission. The process to enroll in a rehabilitation program can be initiated by a call from the patient or their loved ones. This is the start of a life-changing process, and it’s normal for patients to feel apprehension during this step. Addiction treatment centers understand this, which is why admission processes are designed to provide as much assurance and comfort to the patient and their loved ones as possible. During this time, the center can ask the patient or their family for the following: medical records, mental health history, and insurance information.
- Intake. After completing the required administrative process, the patient is admitted to the facility. At this point, the staff members can conduct an inspection to ensure that the patient will not be bringing forbidden items in the center that will compromise the sobriety and safety of other patients and the staff members.
- Assessment. The goal of this step is to determine the specific needs of the patient. The assessment process focuses on the details of the addiction disorder, such as the substances the patient is addicted to and how long they’ve been using it. Information from this step is used to formulate a treatment and recovery plan that is suited to the needs of the patient and maximizes their chance of success.
- Detox. Detoxification refers to the process where the body eliminates harmful substances. This is done so that the patient can safely manage the withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking addictive substances. Everyone has a different experience when it comes to detox. However, most treatment facilities administer medications so that the patient can stay comfortable while their body is in the middle of the detoxification process.
Finding a Treatment that Works
There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for addiction, and what can work for one patient may not have the same effect on another. Fortunately, there are different methods to combat addiction. An effective treatment program should enable the patient to stop using addictive substances, stay drug-free, and be a productive member of society. Here are the two main methods of treatment addiction treatment centers use:
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- Inpatient Care. Residential or inpatient treatment requires the patient to check into a controlled facility that offers 24-hour structured care and emotional and medical support. Inpatient facilities are often recommended for patients who have more severe conditions or co-occurring disorders.An inpatient facility may host a therapeutic community wherein patients and staff members can influence each other and be agents of change. This type of treatment can take up anywhere from 6 to 12 months. There are also short-term inpatient treatments that focus primarily on detoxification, intense counseling, and preparing the patient for community-based programs.
- Outpatient Care. Outpatient treatment programs do not require the patient to stay within the rehabilitation facility. Outpatient care is less restrictive compared to inpatient treatment, though it requires patients to visit a treatment center near them for a few hours every week for 3 to 6 months. These programs are often a good fit for patients who are dealing with milder forms of addiction disorders. They can focus on detoxification and providing social support to recovering patients.
Patients who are on the mend may live in a recovery housing where they can make the transition into living a more independent lifestyle, one that is free from addictive substances.
Recovering as a Family
The person with addiction disorder is at the center of the treatment process, but it’s also important to pay attention to the people around them and the environment they live in. After the treatment, the patient must stay in a home that is stable enough to sustain their recovery.
Many treatment centers address addiction disorders as a family issue, and it isn’t uncommon for rehab facilities to consider family therapy sessions as part of an effective treatment program. These individual and group treatment sessions may be conducted by social workers, religious officials, or mental health and medical professionals. The sessions give family members the time and tools to examine behaviors and thought patterns that may contribute to substance abuse disorders in the home.
Life after Treatment
Recovering from addiction is a lifelong process. After completing inpatient or outpatient programs, it’s important to adhere to an aftercare treatment plan that will help them live a sober and productive life. Post-treatment care may involve continuing addiction counseling and education, support group meetings, or learning how to prevent relapse and deal with stress, among other helpful skills and techniques.
People with addiction often think that they are beyond help, but our team at Better Addiction Care believes that everyone has a chance of living a life of freedom and independence. We have a localized directory of rehab facilities where people with addiction disorders can find the help they need. Call (800) 429-7690 today to get started on your journey to recovery.