By: Steve Greenman, MA, LPC, NCC
“You can get the monkey off your back, but the circus never leaves town.” Anne Lamott.
In the modern recovery world “rehab” can mean many things. To treat addictions a person can choose long-term (usually 90 days) and shorter-term (30 days to 2 weeks) in-house programs. Each type of program has its own specific strengths and weaknesses.
The benefit of an inpatient program is that an individual is isolated away from their substance of choice and is thus given an opportunity to begin to think clearly. Isolation away from behavioral triggers allows them to focus solely on their recovery without distractions from the outside world.
Over time, family members and close friends may be invited to participate in visiting days or family therapy sessions. This helps to build the support system that is so crucial to those in recovery once they leave the rehab facility.
In outpatient, the individual has freedom of movement and is able to handle day-to-day activities of life outside of a facility. Depending on possible involvement of court system, there could be required drug testing in place.
An outpatient program gives an individual the opportunity to gather facts and converse with fellow members of the group to learn coping skills to avoid the decisions of the past. Outpatient care is best for those with short-lived dependence and is not recommended for those with serious or long-term addictions or those with dual diagnosis conditions.
What Happens in Rehab
Once an individual passes through the initial detox from drugs or alcohol, they will move on to the rehabilitation portion of the recovery process. The rehab portion of recovery is where the patients get to evaluate the underlying reasons behind their addictions, addressing those issues so they can effectively move on with their lives without going back to drugs, alcohol, or other addictive behavior.
In individual behavioral therapy, the patient will identify when they began using the substance and why they started abusing it. The patient will receive strategies on how they can direct their time to focus on getting involved in new hobbies or interests. Time management skills will allow them to better use their time so they have less opportunity to think about relapse.
Patients learn to identify triggers, and how to deal with these triggering situations when they come up. If patients have a plan for various tempting situations, they are more likely to put their plan into action and avoid relapse. This type of cognitive behavioral therapy also addresses thoughts that patients have in relation to substance abuse, or life in general. It helps to reform their thinking patterns and make behavioral changes toward a healthy, sober life.
The addiction rehabilitation process usually includes group therapy. These group sessions allow the recovering addict to interact with others who are in the same situation. It is often helpful for recovering addicts to know that they are not alone in their struggles. Likewise, it can be beneficial for addicts to share their own stories of addiction and recovery, as others find solace in them. This sense of community support is integral to the recovery process.
Most addiction rehabilitation facilities offer family therapy as part of their program. Addiction is far-reaching, affecting many more people than just the individual with the addiction. Family members are often those who are most deeply affected by their loved one’s addiction, and they are an important component of the recovery process for that person.
Initially, patients may be restricted from contacting loved ones, but later in the recovery process, family members are often welcomed to participate in family therapy sessions. During these sessions, family members can discuss pain caused by their loved one’s addiction and their desire to see that person live a healthy life. Family therapy can help to resolve issues so the family can serve as a pillar of support once their loved one leaves the rehabilitation facility.
Choosing a Drug Treatment Program
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there are several things to consider when choosing a drug treatment program. These include:
- There is no one-size-fits-all solution to treatment.
- Different treatments work for different people.
- Patients must commit enough time to treatment in order to effectively overcome their addictions.
- Everyone should have easy access to treatment when they need it.
- Addiction affects the way the brain works.
- Effective treatment should address all areas of the addict’s life, not just the abuse or addiction.
- Medicinal treatment is often necessary and should be used in conjunction with therapy.
- Treatment plans should continually be tailored to meet the individual’s needs and circumstances.
- Mental disorders are often linked to drug addiction and should be addressed in treatment.
A setting that provides recovery in a holistic manner and provides services that treat the underlying reasoning behind the need to escape or numb is critical to helping those we serve to find long-term recovery.
The best services include the following components:
- Individual and Family Therapy
- Dependence Education
- Individual Treatment Plan Creation
The service must be helpful in creating long- and short-term goals in the recovery process:
- Establishing an individual relapse prevention plan
- Daily reflections and meditations
- Learning how to encourage longer-term dependent free living
- Creation of a spiritual-based premise of a higher power
To meet the goals prescribed above a service covers areas such as:
- Past and current medical history
- Employment and educational background
- Basic needs being met currently
- Substance abuse history
- Legal issues (current and past)
- Family/social genogram of dependent history
- Psychiatric diagnoses (current and past)
- Personal insights and supports each client has
What Exactly is “Recovery”?
After a patient has completed a rehabilitation program, they are not finished with recovery. In fact, recovery is a process that an addict must work at for the rest of their life.
Sometimes, the path to lifelong recovery will be easy. Other times, it will be difficult for individuals to withstand the temptation to relapse. Like anything in life, it’s a journey that may feature varying terrain, so constant support is essential.
Prior to leaving an addiction treatment program, a patient will meet with counselors to discuss a plan for aftercare. Many addiction rehab facilities offer follow-up programs to assist the patient as they return to normal life.
These may include weekend stays back at the rehab center when the individual feels a touch-up stay is needed. Or a patient may live in a sober living facility for a while with other recovering addicts before returning home. This offers a supportive transitional time for recovering addicts before being thrown back into “normal” life.
Many patients maintain regular therapy sessions post-rehab, and some submit to scheduled drug testing as a way to keep them accountable to their sobriety. Group therapy is a method for building a support system in your local area. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are well-known 12-step groups that many recovering addicts attend on a very regular basis. Both AA and NA have meetings all across the country at easily accessible times.
There are various offsprings of the AA model for a wide range of other addictions, such as Overeaters Anonymous (OA), Emotions Anonymous (EA), Gamblers Anonymous (GA) and Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA). There are also subsets of NA for specific drugs, like Cocaine Anonymous (CA) and Crystal Meth Anonymous (CMA). Some addicts find the type of support they can get in very specific 12-step groups is more beneficial, whereas other addicts gain the help they need from more general groups.
In the end the most important aspect of any rehab and recovery is that it is not just the mind thinking about recovery but also the heart. One must be willing to sacrifice immediate gratification with at times a long arduous plan that leads to fulfillment in never-ending recovery process.
Steve Greenman, MA, LPC, NCC is a counselor at Mental Wellness Counseling in Traverse City, MI. He specializes in helping families dealing with complex family situations, addictions, and transitions. Steve is also helping clients through the Intensive Recover Program, which helps with recovery treatment, alcohol treatment, and other addictions treatment. Contact Steve at 231-714-0282 Ext. 701