Does Rehab Work?
Before ever even considering any major life decision like going to rehab, the first question that comes to mind is does it really work? If one is questioning whether or not they should go to treatment, they need reassurance that rehab is going to work for them. Does rehab work? Treatment is complex and tailored to every individual, and with dedication, strength, and courage, rehab can work.
Thousands of people each year attend rehab and many of them do remain sober after completion. However, there’s no guarantee when it comes to rehab, because it all comes down to the individual. For a realistic analogy, let’s look at this scenario: an individual is overweight, and decides they want to change and lose some weight. They find a nutritionist, personal trainer, and join a gym. The individual follows all of their personal trainer and nutritionist’s advice, works hard, and eventually loses weight. After hitting their goal weight, they maintain their healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise. If that same person decided on not following through with the diet and exercise plan, nothing would change and that individual would most likely regain all the weight they had worked so hard to lose. Rehabs work the same way.
Rehab is a fantastic place for people struggling with addiction, but it ultimately comes down to the individual. Substance abuse treatment provides the alcoholic or drug addict great life tools that can be used on a regular basis. Residential drug rehab works if the individual is ready to be honest and completely willing to make a lifestyle change. The success rate is even higher if the person decides to go to rehab of their own free will.
Do you Have a Problem?
This is the very first question you should ask yourself before even considering rehab. Asking yourself this question in itself is a warning sign. There are many tell-tale signs of addiction, and it is important to know the red flags before it’s too late.
Addiction is unlike any other disease. You can be physically addicted to drugs or alcohol, yet not be an alcoholic or a drug addict. There are two parts to this disease: a mental and a psychical addiction. For example, let’s say you injure your shoulder playing football. You need to have surgery on your shoulder, and for the pain you are prescribed Vicodin. You take the Vicodin as prescribed and develop a psychical addiction to the drug. However, you never become mentally addicted so once the pills are out of your system, you go on with your day and don’t even think about it. This is an example of someone that does not have a problem with drugs.
On the contrary, take this same individual and prescribe them Vicodin because of pain from a similar shoulder injury. He takes the pills as prescribed, but as time goes he begins to abuse them. A psychical addiction builds, and when the high wears off he itches for more. He finds himself obsessing over the pills and starts lying to the doctor to get more and more. When he’s off them he gets sick, and after awhile he needs them just to feel “normal.” This is an example of somebody with an addiction.
Remember: when it comes to addiction, it’s not how much the person drinks or uses but how the substance affects them. If you answer yes to any of the following questions, you might have a problem with drugs or alcohol.
- Is your life unmanageable?
- Is your job security at risk because of your drinking or drugging?
- Are you spending all of your money on drugs or alcohol?
- Do you spend a great deal of your time thinking about getting high or drunk?
- Do you think about drinking when you aren’t drinking?
- Do you experience blackouts because of your drinking or drug use?
- Do your family members often worry about you?
- Is your life falling apart because of your drinking or drug abuse?
- Have you experienced negative consequences because of your drug use?
Drug Addiction is a Complex Disease
Drug addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. It is considered a brain disease because drugs alter the brain; they change its structure, its chemical make up, and how it works. These brain changes can be long lasting and can lead to many harmful, often self-destructive behaviors. Simply put, an addict or alcoholic can’t stop getting drunk or high, no matter what.
It isn’t always easy to tell if someone has a problem. Someone might show all of the clear-cut signs of being an addict, but in fact not actually be addicted. There are also highly functioning addicts out there who may be using drugs all of the time but their lives haven’t fallen apart just yet. The only way to determine if someone is an addict is if the addict admits it themselves.
Drug addicts and alcoholics typically experience many negative consequences before they get sober. These consequences include broken relationships, trouble with the law, health issues, financial issues, performance issues at work or at home, trouble sleeping, trouble staying awake, trouble paying attention, along with many other difficult problems that make life difficult.
Addiction is a complex disease, due in part to the fact that there is still not much research done on addicts. However, according to drug abuse.gov, these are the symptoms of addiction are almost universal, and include:
- The substance is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.
- There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful effort to cut down or control use of the substance.
- A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain the substance, use the substance, or recover from its effects.
- Craving, or a strong desire or urge to use the substance.
- Recurrent use of the substance resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home.
- Continued use of the substance despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of its use.
- Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of use of the substance.
- Recurrent use of the substance in situations in which it is physically hazardous.
9. Use of the substance is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by the substance.
10. Tolerance, as defined by either of the following:
- A need for markedly increased amounts of the substance to achieve intoxication or desired effect.
- A markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of the substance.
11. Withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following:
1. The characteristic withdrawal syndrome for that substance (as specified in the DSM-V for each substance).
2. The substance (or a closely related substance) is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Things to expect in Drug rehab
There is a lot of negative stigma about rehab in general; however, rehab is often the first step in creating a better life for those suffering from addiction. There is everything to gain and nothing to lose by going to rehab, as it’s the perfect time to finally do something about your problem. Rehab will include a lot of intensive work, but at least you will be relieved from your responsibilities, environment, and temptations, at least for now.
By simply checking into rehab you are automatically removed from temptation and distraction, allowing you sufficient time to recover from addiction. Every rehab is different, but here is a rough blueprint of what you can expect once you enroll.
The first phase of rehab is typically an intake or assessment. Personalized treatment tends to work best, as no two individuals are the same. The assessment is usually composed of a medical exam, a psychiatric exam, and an interview. This step is important because it will give the staff a better understanding of your situation and find you the best treatment possible.
Of course most people prefer having a private room, but every rehab is different and some facilities do not even offer solo rooms. There are a few very important reasons behind having roommates.
- Many alcoholics and drug addicts isolate themselves while in active addiction. A roommate provides good company so it makes it impossible to remove yourself from everyone.
- Roommates provide safety and aid in the recovery process.
- Living with someone keeps you accountable for your actions.
Detox if Necessary
Did you know withdrawal symptoms for some certain illicit substances can be fatal? For example, detoxing without medical help from alcohol or benzodiazepines can be deadly. Therefore it is important that the substance abuse facility you choose has a medical detoxification center. The detox process may only take a couple days but in severe cases could last up to a week or longer.
A Structured Schedule
Alcoholics and drug addicts usually live life with no real schedule; their lives are often extremely unmanageable and chaotic. Most rehabs will have a detailed and intensive schedule in order to help the patients get their life on track. In the early days of sobriety it is hard for many people to make decisions, so this detailed schedule helps those who are indecisive.
Most if not all rehab centers offer counseling, so you can expect therapy on a regular basis. Group therapy along with individual counseling is particularly common. Recovering alcoholics and addicts have often experienced trauma in their lives, so there are usually trauma counseling sessions, PTSD sessions, and other addiction related sessions.
If you decide to go to a treatment center that is 12-step based, you will more than likely be taken to outside meetings. Many rehabs take their patients to Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings. For those planning on staying in the same area as the rehab center once they’ve finished treatment, this is an amazing way to start building healthy relationships with fellow sober alcoholics or addicts.
Even though rehab isn’t focused around having fun, it is important to show recovering addicts and alcoholics it is possible to enjoy life sober. Activities can include working out, playing sports, going to the movies, going to theater or comedy shows, walking around parks, and virtually anything you can imagine that’s both safe and fun. Learning how to enjoy yourself again in sobriety is just as important as doing intensive therapy work.
Despite most people thinking addiction is just the addict’s problem, it is actually a family disease as well. Living with an alcoholic or drug addict causes a lot of damage in the family. So it is important that close family members get help as well as the addict.
Family participation in drug rehab is crucial for the addict’s success in recovery. Having a strong understanding of recovery and developing a support net for the addict will help the drug addict or alcoholic recover quicker. It is also suggested that family members seek help for themselves from a family group.
Unfortunately, drug addiction and alcoholism is a life-long disease. Fortunately, there are aftercare options. Drug rehab doesn’t end after residential stay. Upon leaving treatment there is usually aftercare options including secondary care such as a halfway house, sober house or three-quarter house. All of the above living situations are designed to help people integrate back into sobriety and are a great place for drug addicts to learn how to live sober lives.
Rehab works for thousands of drug addicts and alcoholics each year, but the real question is – will you let it work? All it takes is some honesty, hard work, and dedication. Kicking addiction may be the hardest obstacle in any addict’s life, but a sober and happy life is 100% worth the struggle. It is nearly impossible to live a life filled with drugs and hard drinking, and there is so much more to life than just getting intoxicated. Recovery can give you serenity and happiness, while addiction offers nothing more than chaos and insanity. Rehab does work, so choose the right path and give recovery a chance.