One of the most common misconceptions when it comes to addiction is the belief that it is a consequence of poor decision-making or bad behaviour. There is so much stigma attached to addiction that many people are unable to see it in anything other than a negative light. Stereotyping of addicts means that most believe that those affected are of poor moral character. They are unable to comprehend the fact that addiction is actually an illness and one that is capable of affecting individuals from all walks of life. The fact that alcohol is indeed an illness means that it requires treatment. So what are addiction treatment programmes like, and how can these be accessed?
Accepting a Diagnosis of Addict
When it comes to addiction, it is important to realise that there is currently no cure. However, there are many treatments available for those who want to put their days of substance abuse behind them. The first step towards a substance-free life means admitting that the problem exists in the first place, which is often the hardest part of the journey for many affected individuals.
Overcoming denial is incredibly tough for those with addiction. It is not a case of being stubborn or pig-headed; it is just that the individual genuinely cannot see the seriousness of his or her situation. He or she cannot believe that their use of a particular substance is out of control. Many believe they are in complete control of their substance use and could quit anytime they liked. However, when they do try to quit, it is often a different situation. These people then realise that quitting is not going to be as easy as once assumed and they may have to concede that help is indeed required to get better.
It is easy for others to say, ‘just stop drinking’ or ‘all you have to do is quit’. These comments are unrealistic; if it were so easy to stop, why would anyone suffer with addiction? Addiction is not a choice. Those affected have no say over their illness, just as those with cancer have no choice over theirs. To blame addicts for their illness is unfair.
Nevertheless, the addict must be willing to accept a diagnosis of addict before he or she can even consider getting better. He or she must also be willing to accept the reality that abstinence is the only way to beat this illness. There is no point in hoping that he/she can stop drinking or taking drugs for a while before going back to controlled consumption – this never works.
It is also important to point out here that addiction is in the person and not the substance. Those who are addicted to drugs will have to give up all mood-altering substances, including alcohol. This is where many recovering addicts fall. These individuals believe it is possible to continue drinking alcohol so long as they do not take the drug to which they were addicted. This is not the case. Taking any mood-altering substance will dramatically increase the risk of a relapse.
Treatment Options Available
For those who want to quit drugs or alcohol for good, there are a number of different ways to tackle the issue of recovery. Below are a few examples:
- Quitting alone
- Local fellowship support groups
- Outpatient programmes
- Inpatient programmes.
Going it alone is entirely possible but, for most, is not recommended. The reason for this is that it is difficult to get to the crux of the problem without professional help. Those with a physical addiction to alcohol or drugs will need a detox in order to overcome this side of their illness, and detoxing alone is dangerous.
Trying to detox and then continuing to live in sobriety without professional assistance is the rockiest path one could tread. It is rare for someone to be able to quit substance abuse and not return to it in the future if he or she has done it alone. It can happen, but it is rare.
Why Detox Is Necessary?
A detox is generally the first step in the recovery process, and it starts when the individual quits the substance to which he or she is addicted. Once the body realises that no more mood-altering substances will be arriving, it will naturally begin the healing process. This starts with the elimination of any remaining toxins or chemicals left over from years of substance abuse.
It is important that the bond between the user and the substance is broken so that he or she can then move on to the process of rehabilitation. It is during rehab that the more complex issues of addiction are dealt with. This is where the cause of the illness will be identified and the patient can be taught various coping skills to take with them into daily life.
Detox can be complicated, and while some people will only suffer mild discomfort during the process, others will feel very ill. Some will go on to suffer severe symptoms that could even be life-threatening if left untreated. The type of symptoms that a person will experience will depend on the substance he or she has been using, how long they have been using it for, and other factors such as their mental and physical health.
In most cases, it is best to complete a detox under the care of a medical professional in a dedicated facility, although some prefer to undergo the process at home under supervision from a close friend or family member. Before you decide, it would be wise to get advice from a fully qualified medical professional or an addiction expert.
Local Support Groups
Once detox has been completed, the decision can be made as to where to have rehabilitation treatment. Some will manage to overcome their addiction with a programme of detoxification, followed by membership of a local support groups such as Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous.
In fact, local fellowship support groups are considered by most in the addiction services field to be an essential part of any recovery programme. For some people, a group such as AA or NA is all that is needed to help them stay sober after a programme of detoxification.
Nevertheless, most people will require a programme of rehabilitation in an inpatient or outpatient facility before maintaining their sobriety with the help of a local support group.
Those who want to recover in an outpatient setting will have a lot of options in terms of who provides their care. These programmes are offered by the NHS, local counsellors, and private clinics. The care programme provided by the outpatient facility is far less intensive than those of inpatient programmes but they are no less effective in terms of helping people to overcome their addictions.
Outpatient programmes typically begin when the patient has finished a detox programme and is sober and ready to tackle his or her psychological addiction. The number of treatment hours that a patient attends each week will depend on the provider. Some require patients to attend counselling for a number of hours every day while others just a few hours each week. As such, the duration of the programme will vary. You might find that one outpatient programme lasts for a few months while another might continue for a year or longer.
An outpatient programme is an excellent choice for those who do not have a severe addiction to drugs or alcohol. Nevertheless, for those who are close to a relapse or who suffered with a severe addiction for a long time, an outpatient programme may not be the wisest choice. The reason for this is that the individual will still have to deal with the temptations and triggers that tend to present themselves in everyday life. Bringing up memories and feelings during a therapy session could lead some individuals to head to their nearest bar or dealer on their way home from treatment.
Nonetheless, for patients with plenty of support at home and those who would find it impossible to be away for an extended period, outpatient programmes can be a good choice in terms of getting the help needed to recover fully. An ardent desire to change and a willingness to give everything to the programme can go a long way to ensuring a successful recovery.
In the UK, most inpatient programmes are provided by private clinics where accommodation is usually decorated to a high standard and patients stay in private or semi-private rooms. It is easy to assume that this type of programme is reserved for the rich and famous, but this is simply untrue. There are many fantastic inpatient programmes that are well within the reach of the average person on an average wage.
By far the biggest benefit of the inpatient programme is the fact that the patient is removed from everyday life and placed in a secure and distraction-free environment where there is no access to temptation and triggers.
Patients will spend around six to eight weeks in the residential clinic with other recovering addicts. They will spend most of their day in counselling and therapy sessions, but there will be other activities provided too such as life skills seminars or relapse prevention workshops.
Around-the-clock care from a team of professionals that usually includes physicians, psychologists, counsellors, therapists, and support staff is another huge benefit of the inpatient programme. Patients often thrive on the fact that they have access to care and support as and when this is needed. It can be this that helps them to stay motivated to succeed.
What about Aftercare?
One element of the recovery process that is often forgotten about is aftercare, yet this is one of the most vital parts of the programme. It is so important, in fact, that most treatment providers include up to twelve months of aftercare support as part of their programme.
Why do they do this you might ask? The reason is that the first year after rehabilitation is often seen as the most difficult in terms of avoiding relapse. Most patients will relapse during this time if they are going to. With aftercare programmes and other resources, patients will have the support they need to maintain their sobriety.
Local support groups often form an essential part of the aftercare process. Most providers will encourage their patients to get involved with groups such as AA or NA because they know that involvement can be enough to keep patients away from a return to substance use. Most experts agree that not getting involved with a fellowship support group can increase a recovering addict’s chances of a relapse.
Local support groups hold regular meetings where recovering addicts come together to share their stories and experiences which motivate and inspire others to continue living a clean and sober life. These programmes have helped millions of people around the world to maintain their sobriety.
If you would like more information on detox or rehabilitation programmes that work, call Oasis Bradford today. We have an excellent success rate when it comes to helping individuals to overcome their addiction and move forward to independent sober living. Call today to see how we can help you or a loved one.