Understanding Alcohol and Drug Rehabilitation. Addiction to a drug or alcohol is not the end. Rehabilitation programs can and do help addicted individuals improve their lives through better social and workplace functioning and a lower predilection for crime. However, these results depend entirely on the individual’s willingness to change and how well they respond to their treatment program’s characteristics and approach. While alcohol and drug rehabs vary in how they treat addiction and the tools and approaches they use, common elements link many different successful types of treatment.
Addiction as a Disease
The best way to understand drug and alcohol addiction is as a disease like any other. Many chronic diseases have long-term treatments that include occasional relapses. Likewise, rehab programs can help addicts, but they do not guarantee a return to full functioning, nor a permanent solution. Addiction is simply a very difficult problem to solve, much like diabetes and other chronic diseases. The affliction of addiction does not imply that addicts are just weaker or less able to resist than other people; addiction strikes without discrimination. Furthermore, the idea that alcoholism and drug addiction are diseases also shows up in the data of rehabilitation. The rates of people who return to addict behaviors and experience the same bad outcomes after undergoing treatment are about the same as the rates of people who experience relapses of chronic diseases like diabetes after treatment. Viewed in this way, addiction is an external disease rather than an internal failing, and a relapse of addiction is just another manifestation of a chronic disease, rather than a weakness. Addiction management might include cognitive behavioral therapy or medical treatments, but in all cases it requires the constant commitment and participation of the addict.
How Treatment Works
While there are many different approaches to treatment and rehabilitation, some common threads link most successful treatment regimens. One of the most important is ensuring that the patient remains in the treatment for a long time. As a chronic disease, addiction requires long-term treatment and management like any other disease. Short programs, or long ones that the patient leaves early on, don’t give the patient enough tools to manage his or her disease. Another common thread is the fact that most people who suffer from addiction also have other mental disorders or obstacles. The patient’s entire mental health needs attention, not just the addiction. Without effective treatment of any and all behavioral health problems that the addict suffers from, they are at greater risk of falling back into addiction. Furthermore, addressing these other issues leads to better life outcomes and experiences for addicts, because they will no longer suffer from the symptoms and effects of their secondary illness.
It is also clear that everyone experiences addiction differently and their addictions are rooted in different causes, so no course of treatment will suit everyone. That is not to say that treatment is completely different for everyone, but the varying backgrounds and experiences of addicts means that their doctors and counselors need to take individual variation into account when treating addiction.
What To Do
If you believe that you or someone you know is suffering from addiction, seek out help from an inpatient rehabilitation program. Depending on the drug, attempting to beat the addiction without professional help can be dangerous due to the potential for harmful and even deadly withdrawal effects to arise. Addiction is a chronic disease that needs lifelong management like any other. With time, training, and care, it is possible for addicts to regain functionality and beat their disease, but it is not the result of a quick program, a fad, or a sudden epiphany.
Do not hesitate to seek help. The longer an addiction proceeds, the more damage it can do and the harder it will be to restore normalcy. Furthermore, addiction has a tendency to degrade the addict’s social support and personal finances, making it even harder to seek and gain treatment. Early attention and intervention can make a big difference, even though it can be hard to accept the fact of an addiction. It is critical to have the self-awareness to recognize addiction and realize that it cannot be beaten without outside help, but this is not an admission of weakness- it is a sign of great bravery and inner strength.