Table of Contents
If you want to learn more about how rehab can help you break free from your addiction and start your recovery journey, you’re in the right place. In this article we’ll look at the first steps involved in overcoming addiction, before moving on to the detox process and what that involves.
Next, we cover some tips for finding the best drug addiction treatment for you, which includes learning what makes treatment effective. The article also looks at the role coping mechanisms play in overcoming addiction, and it concludes by examining relapses and why they don’t necessarily mean that treatment has failed.
Can Addiction Be Treated Successfully?
If you’re currently suffering from an addiction the reassuring news is that the research on this is quite clear: addiction is a treatable disorder. Studies looking at the science of addiction have helped develop evidence-based treatments that can help people overcome their addiction and rebuild a fulfilling life.
However, while addiction can be treated, it’s important to note that like many other chronic health issues, treatment doesn’t necessarily equal a cure. Don’t be discouraged by this though, the most important thing is that addiction can be treated and managed successfully, enabling you to live life on your own terms.
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The First Step to Overcoming Drug Abuse and Addiction
If you are currently dealing with a substance abuse addiction, you might be researching how to overcome it and looking for the first step to take. When it comes to beating your addiction, the first step in many people’s journey towards recovery is often admitting to themselves that they have an addiction in the first place.
Many people with addictions are in denial about either the existence or extent of their addiction and can spend many years ignoring it, along with the consequences of it. However, over time, as the problems associated with the addiction become harder to repress, many people have a moment (or several) of clarity.
But this step only works if it is followed up by a commitment to change. Nobody else can make this decision for you and, if you’re a loved one of someone struggling with addiction, it’s useful to know that a person cannot be guilted or cajoled into changing for you. Even when that pressure comes from a place of love, it won’t work. The decision to change has to be an internal one if it is going to be meaningful.
So the first step can be summed up as this: recognising there is a problem and deciding to do something about it. This stage can often take a while because it usually involves a lot of contemplation and introspection. If you are currently in this stage, don’t worry if it is taking you a little while longer than you would like – when you feel truly ready to change, you will have more motivation to sustain you through your recovery journey.
Once you have decided you are ready to change, you will then move through to the next stage: preparing to change. This is necessary because you will have a much higher chance of recovering if you spend a bit of time mapping out a plan instead of jumping in head first.
You might spend some time researching available treatment options, speak with various healthcare professionals and start to set up your life to support you in recovery. This might include removing things from your home that enable or trigger addiction and deciding to limit contact with people or environments who do the same.
The Detox Process
Once you have made the conscious decision to get better, and have prepared and developed a plan for recovery, the first step is usually going through a detox process. In this section, we will outline what detoxification is, how it works, how long it takes and some of the risks associated with going too fast.
What is Detoxification?
Detoxification is simply the process in which drugs or alcohol are metabolised and removed from the body. This helps your body to no longer rely on those substances to function. Once you are physically stable, you will then be able to engage in other forms of treatment aimed at addressing the underlying causes of addiction.
How Does Drug Detox Work?
A drug detox works by removing the toxins from your body, allowing the body to no longer rely on those toxins.
A medically managed detox is usually advised, especially for people suffering from severe addictions or suffering from intense withdrawal symptoms. During a medically managed detox, you should receive specialised care aimed at supporting you through this often challenging process.
How Long Does Drug Detox Take?
How long a detox takes will depend on what substance you are addicted to, it could last from one week to six weeks or even longer.
Rapid And Ultra-Rapid Detox And Risks
A rapid detox is a very quick method of detoxing from opioids. The basic idea is that the person detoxing is put under general anaesthesia during which time opioids are rapidly removed from their system.
This might seem like an attractive idea for two reasons: it is often a very fast way to detox (often completed in a couple of days) and there are also often no, or less, withdrawal symptoms.
However, this method of detox is controversial and can result in dangerous complications.
Some of the risks associated with rapid and ultra-rapid detox are that it’s:
- Stressful to the body: It puts a lot of strain on the body and some people dependent on opioids may not be able to handle that much physical stress
- Not an evidenced-based treatment: Research into the topic has concluded: “These data do not support the use of general anaesthesia for heroin detoxification and rapid opioid antagonist induction.”
- Potentially fatal: Some of the potential side effects include cardiac arrest and death
Tips for Finding the Best Drug Addiction Treatment for You
Once you have undergone a medical detox, you will likely need to engage in further treatment aimed at tackling the underlying causes of your addiction. In this section, we’ll take a look at how to weigh up whether a treatment is effective and then look at some of the options including medications, rehab and therapy.
What Are the Principles of Effective Treatment?
There is a highly useful section in The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health that outlines principles of effective treatment for substance use disorders in adults. The original text is available to view in the previous link. Still, we have also summarised some of the main points below.
- Recognise that addiction is a complicated disease that affects cognitive function and behaviour – but that it is treatable
- Accept that no one treatment is right for everyone
- Treatment must be available quickly
- For treatment to be effective, it needs to target multiple needs and not just the substance abuse
- Remaining in treatment for a sufficient amount of time is vital
- Behavioural therapies such as individual, family or group counselling are the most commonly used forms of addiction treatment
- Medications are an important aspect of treatment for many patients, particularly when used together with behavioural therapies
- A person’s treatment plan needs to be continually assessed and modified throughout recovery to make sure it meets their evolving needs
- Recognise that many people dealing with addiction also have other mental disorders (known as dual diagnosis)
- Medically assisted detoxification is the first stage of addiction treatment and when used alone it does little to affect long-term change
- Drug use during treatment needs to be monitored as relapses during treatment can happen
What Medications and Devices Help Treat Drug Addiction?
Medications and devices may or may not be appropriate for your recovery journey, it will ultimately depend on the type of addiction you have and your specific background.
That said, medications can be used to better manage withdrawal. Coming off of certain substances can result in a variety of withdrawal symptoms which could include physical symptoms like nausea, sweating and headaches and psychological symptoms such as anxiety or depression. There are specific meditations and devices which can be utilised to help tackle the specific symptoms and help make your withdrawal more manageable.
You may also utilise treatment at other stages of your recovery journey, such as while you are engaging with other treatment methods and to help prevent a relapse. These will be unique to your situation and discussed with your healthcare provider.
Types of Rehab Centers
Many rehabilitation centres offer both inpatient and outpatient programs. While both are focused on rehabilitation, each comes with its own specific benefits.
Inpatient rehab: Inpatient rehab involves leaving your home environment and staying at a residential treatment centre for a set period of time. Depending on the type of centre you go to, some are quite clinical and others may feel more holistic. Whatever the facility, the main benefit of inpatient care is 24/7 support which provides you with time and space to focus solely on recovery, free from the distractions and triggers of home. This is a more expensive option than outpatient treatment, and it also involves leaving behind other commitments (such as work or childcare) for the duration of the program.
Outpatient rehab: During outpatient rehab you will remain based at home, travelling to the facility to access treatment at pre-agreed times. Because it is less intensive in nature, this type of program usually takes longer to complete. However, it is also often a more affordable option and it can work around other commitments which for some people are non-negotiable.
Behavioural therapies are a popular, evidence-based treatment for addiction. One of the most popular kinds is cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), which aims to help people recognise and cope with situations which would normally trigger their addiction.
Ultimately the right individual therapy will depend on your personality and preferences and you may choose to pursue several different types before settling on the right option for you. Along with individual therapy you may also choose to engage with treatment such as family therapy and group counselling, both of which can also support recovery.
Coping mechanisms are the tools we develop to deal with the inevitable challenges of life. These can range from healthy coping mechanisms, such as exercise, meditation or talking with a loved one, to unhealthy coping mechanisms, including substance abuse.
Coping with Drug Cravings
In order to move past your addiction, ultimately you need to avoid succumbing to cravings. This sounds simple but in reality can be incredibly difficult.
If you use substances to soothe uncomfortable feelings, once you quit you will still be left with the uncomfortable feelings and now you have no way to soothe them. This only becomes more entrenched the longer the addiction has been happening.
The answer? Learn to develop new, healthier ways to soothe those feelings that don’t involve substance abuse.
Learn Healthy Ways to Cope with Stress
Fortunately, there are plenty of healthier coping mechanisms available to you which will support you through difficult emotions and challenging events, without making you feel worse in the long run.
Which coping mechanisms are best will depend on your unique situation and you may need to experiment a bit here to find solutions that work for you. A few ideas to begin could include:
Ask for help: When times get tough, reach out to a loved one and ask for some support. Some people find the act of opening up is helpful in and of itself, others benefit from the unique perspective that other people often provide.
Exercise: For some people, pounding the streets or lifting heavy weights provides an outlet for dealing with life’s challenges. Not only does exercise provide an outlet for tough emotions, but it also floods your body with feel-good endorphins too.
Meet your basic needs: In times of trouble, it’s easy to neglect our basic needs. If you feel yourself spiralling, take a look at your basic needs and see if they are being met. Are you sleeping enough? Are you eating a balanced diet? Are you getting outside for fresh air and light exercise daily? These seemingly small things can have a profound effect on our bodies and mind.
Build a Meaningful Drug-free Life
Once you remove the drugs from your life, you might find yourself asking: now what? Now begins the fun of putting together a healthy, meaningful life, one which makes you feel good and which you actively enjoy.
If you don’t know where to begin, you may need to spend some time thinking about what this could look like to you. You could do this in therapy or through discussing ideas with friends. Alternatively, you might prefer to explore your options in a journal.
Does Relapse to Drug Use Mean Treatment Has Failed?
Relapse does not mean your treatment has failed, it may just be a part of your recovery journey. Because addiction is a chronic disease, some people are at risk of relapsing even after they have succeeded in stopping for a prolonged period of time.
What relapse does indicate is that the person may need to recommit to their treatment plan or update it to suit their evolving needs.
What Causes Relapse?
A relapse is usually caused by several factors, not just one. It is also a process, often one that begins sometime before taking drugs or consuming alcohol. Some of the most common risk factors for relapse include:
- High levels of stress and negative emotion
- Exposure to triggers
- Relationship problems
- Peer pressure
- Limited support network
- Experiencing pain
- Low levels of self-belief
Find Support for Your Addiction Recovery
Are you ready to take the next step in your recovery journey? The good news is – there is plenty of help and support available when you are ready. From your local GP to groups specific to the addiction you are dealing with, there are places you can go to find out more information to help you beat your addiction once and for all.
Looking for a Place to Start?
If you’re not sure where to start, or you’re interested in learning more about our clinically proven addiction treatment programme, give our friendly team a call on 353 4121 45111