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During Treatment

If you or someone you know is facing the tumultuous task of overcoming a drug addiction, it is helpful to research what to expect during treatment. Drug addiction treatment is varied depending on the type of treatment, severity of the addiction, type of drug addiction, underlying issues that could have lead to the addiction in the first place and history of the patient. Keep reading to learn more about what to expect during drug addiction treatment and how it can help you or someone you love get on the road to recovery.

What is drug addiction?

Nearly 24 million Americans are reported to be addicted to drugs, alcohol or narcotics, but only 12 percent ever seek out treatment. Many drug addicts face serious health consequences, damage to their lives, careers and relationships with others, possible jail or prison time and ultimately may pay the ultimate price with their lives.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, drug addiction is a complex issue that takes more than just a strong will and good intentions to overcome. Many might believe that drug addicts simply have poor morals and choose to become addicted to drugs. However, while the individual might have chosen to do drugs in the beginning, the strong impact of the drug’s chemical properties on the person’s brain results in an addiction that is not easily overcome through choice and sheer will.

Drugs change the brain in a way that makes compulsive drug abuse incredibly difficult to recover from, which is why intensive therapies, treatments and on-going support is required to help a person make a successful recovery. With these resources, it is possible to help people stop using drugs and make the changes needed to renew their lives with purpose and productivity.

Drug addiction is more than just an impact on the individual, on-going drug abuse costs society as well. In just the United States, between overall costs including health-and crime-related expenses, nearly 600 billion is spent annually.

Addiction takes place when a person develops a chronic need to seek out and use drugs, despite the multitude of harmful consequences to the addict and those around them.

During Treatment:

If you or someone you know is preparing to enter a drug treatment rehabilitation center, it is often helpful to know ahead of time what you can expect during treatment. Knowing what a typical day might look like for someone headed to rehab can help the person mentally prepare for success. If you have a loved one already checked into one of these facilities, it might be interesting to learn what happens during treatment so you can be as supportive as possible during the patient’s journey to sobriety.

During Treatment Overview:

Many rehabilitation programs are structured and intensive. Inpatient therapies found in rehab programs are designed to make the most of the time spent there helping overhaul serious drug and substance abuse cases. For many who have struggled with prolonged addiction, recurrent addiction, addictions to various substances or have tried rehab before and relapsed, having an intensive therapy program can help the patient more quickly overcome the hurdles needed to begin life as a recovering addict.

Many drugs and substances that cause a physical dependence on the drug do so by rewiring a person’s brain through the body’s central nervous system. It takes a lot of time and learning to undo this damage, much of which is permanent. This is when the addict must learn new skills for focusing on dealing with addiction as a life-long issue.

Rehab Features:

Most rehab facilities follow similar patterns of execution in that they are structured, offer varying types of support groups/meetings, one-on-one therapy and group therapy. Other forms of alternative therapies might be included as well like equine therapy, music therapy, yoga and meditation and more. Many rehab facilities offer 90-day programs. Because addiction can impact so many parts of the brain and body, it takes that much time, or more, to make a difference. However, there are rehab facilities that offer shorter stays or longer stays upwards of 18 months or more depending on the situation.

A Typical Day in Rehab:

To start, it is important to note that rehab facilities are not simply a place for someone to go to escape their problems. Rehab can be mentally exhaustive as you prepare and learn new skills to help cope with feelings of addiction and other mental issues outside of rehab in the real world. This means, no sleeping in. Typically, most rehab programs start early. Residents are encouraged to start the day with yoga or meditation followed by a healthy breakfast.

Eating healthy and maintaining a healthy lifestyle while in rehab establishes a strong base for what you can expect out of yourself after rehab. Having healthy habits in all aspects of life can help the patient strive to stay healthy.

Throughout the day, the patient attends a variety of workshops, group therapies, one-on-one therapies and support groups. Many rehabs use a 12-step program like Narcotics Anonymous to help the patient get started, as well as have an option for anonymous support following their time in rehab.

Group therapy is helpful too because it helps open the patient to the experience of others, which in turn can help them reflect upon themselves and their own struggles.

One-on-one therapy with a psychiatrist can help the patient begin a recovery plan. Having an idea of what needs to happen and how it can be accomplished is a method used to help keep the patient on track during treatment. In addition, the psychiatrist can help establish a medication plan with the patient. Some patients may need to take a drug like methadone to help them overcome an addiction to opioids. The psychiatrist can help monitor this. In other cases, there are individuals who struggle with mental illness including depression, anxiety and schizophrenia. Some of these mental illnesses can be what led to the drug addiction in the first place. Being on the right medications can help a person cope with the mental illness with a non-habit forming drug that can help prevent them from feeling the need to abuse illegal drugs or alcohol and other substances.

Aside from therapy and group meetings, the patient usually gets time throughout the day to engage in alternative therapies. This can include yoga, equine therapy, music therapy, swimming and other methods to help the patient improve physical health and mental health. There is usually some allotted free time throughout the day, but it is minimal.

Tools for Family and Friends of Patient:

It is difficult to see a loved one struggle with drug or substance abuse, but remaining positive and supportive can help that loved one quickly find their way toward recovery. But how can family members and friends stay supportive? Even though the patient might only be able to communicate via a phone call infrequently, during those times always do your best to stay upbeat. Keep morale high. Avoid talking to your loved one about stressors and triggers that might cause the patient to stall in their progress. Remaining hopeful and upbeat, talking about the bright light at the end of the rehab tunnel can help the loved one push through and continue to want to stay on the road to recovery.  

Consider writing letters to your loved one unless they request otherwise. This can help provide something for them to look forward to and can raise their spirits if they are feeling lonely and low during treatment.

Choosing to undergo intensive rehab treatment is no easy feat and requires much determination and courage to start. Those who are serious about making rehab a successful experience, have a higher chance of succeeding in doing just that.

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