The Mechanics of Treatment

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When it comes to getting treatment for alcohol or drug abuse, it helps enormously to understand the mechanics of it, the reason treatment works the way it does.

When it comes to substance abuse treatment, there certainly seems to be some moral confusion today. One needs only search treatment, to find a plethora of misinformation spread out throughout the internet.

Although the best way to handle misinformation is by producing more accurate information to combat it, one can’t help but wonder what caused this trend in the start. However, the most important subject, in this case, is the understanding of what treatment is and what it does.

What is Treatment?

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In simplistic terms, according to the NIH treatment is:

“intended to help addicted individuals stop compulsive drug seeking and use. Treatment can occur in a variety of settings, take many different forms, and last for different lengths of time.”

Even with the dictionary definition of what treatment is, unfortunately, it is a largely nuanced subject that varies from individuals, locations, and even culture on certain aspects. Also, while being extremely informative, it doesn’t truly answer the pertinent question as to what it is. In a more complex sense, treatment is the manipulation of the brain of an addict by an outside force. This is then manipulated to improve the living situation of the person afflicted. Like getting rid of a bad habit.

Since alcohol and drug addiction is (both physically and mentally) a disease, treatment nearly always needs be a long-term solution to work. Because the nature of addiction, short-term and quick sessions typically only lead to more relapses and a worsening problem. For the majority of people suffering through alcohol and drug addiction, treatment remains a long prospect, sometimes even lifelong depending on the severity of the issue. While the overall purpose of treatment might easily be comprehensible, a common problem that arises is the misinterpretation behind it all.

There is a multitude of studies documenting the evidence of treatment’s efficacy in completing its intended purpose. These include such subsections as, behavioral, contingency management, medication use, or a combination of all. Treatment usually works best when implemented through targeted and specific programs to help the individual going through it. There is a wide assortment of treatment types. The following are different types of programs available. These programs are not the only ones available but are some of the most popular.

Inpatient Program

Perhaps one of the most commonly sought after types of treatment programs is the inpatient program.

This program has been found to be highly effective in creating a lasting impression on the individual that goes through it. Utilizing this program, the individual will be committed to a facility that provides 24-hour service, to better provide the person going through it the best experience possible.

Many choose this program simply because it offers the best in creating a stress-free environment. Typically the length of this type of program can last anywhere from 30 to 90 days, depending on the requests of the individual.

Outpatient Program

This program is usually best suited for those who are unable to relinquish time from their lives to give up months for treatment, because of the many conundrums of life. Thankfully, this program was created specifically to cater to those with busy lives and busier schedules.

While this program doesn’t have the high success rate as that of the inpatient program, it definitely holds a high place in treatment overall. Also, outpatient programs tend to cost less, making the appeal of it higher and more accepted in low-income households.

However, due to the fact that outpatient programs can’t supervise and help a client all the time, it creates within itself an intensive few hours each day. Every day there are meetings and group counseling’s that typically do not last any more than 4 hours. But these 4 hours are pushed and encouraged to avoid relapsing.

Relapsing is one of the detrimental downsides of outpatient programs. When trying to completely get treatment from alcohol or drug abuse, separating oneself from the environment riddled with reminders is not always possible. This is the reason the few meetings there are, are so intensive, to avoid the possibility of relapse.

Dual Diagnosis Program

This type of program is mainly intended to treat not only drug and alcohol addiction but the mental illnesses that unfortunately commonly accompany substance abuse.

Often times alcohol and drug abuse issues are symptoms of an attempt at self-medication by those suffering through mental illnesses. In much the same way that doctors prescribe mentally ill people with medication to deal with the problem, people who don’t realize they are mentally ill, find that drugs and alcohol help provide their mental illness needs. This is not to condone alcohol or drug use, but rather show what lacking proper medical care can lead to.

Many times when an individual is suffering through substance abuse issues and relapse often after treatment, the remedy perhaps might be to get a phycological evaluation. Being unaware that one might be suffering from some type of mental illness, is one of the most common reasons that treatment might seem pointless.

12 Step Program

Probably one of the better-known programs to date is the 12 step program. Contrary to popular belief, the 12 step program doesn’t actually apply solely to just alcohol-related issues. This program can be applied effectively to drug use too.

The core principle of the program is that it sets before the individual a series of steps to follow to better combat substance abuse. Although there are rare cases of individuals being successful after the program, typically this shows best results when having group meetings at least once a week, long after treatment.

Many find this program extremely appealing due to its efficiency and ease of which to conduct the meetings. Also added to the pros about this program, is the second most recorded reason people seem to flock to it: meet people. Making friends for life is listed among one of the top reasons those who go through it, say they enjoyed the experience.

Although the science is still unclear, it is assumed that because of the positivity this program is portrayed as for so many people, is the principle reason it is so effective. When people enjoy the process of treatment, it makes the success rate soar. When people relate bad experiences to programs, not only are they more likely to relapses but even more likely to avoid treatment again.

The first time in treatment can be detrimental to the success or eternal failure, so it is vitally important that the first step is taken with ease and a clear mind.

Addiction Support Groups Are Essential for Success

addiction support group

During your time in group treatment, you are introduced to mutual sober support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or other groups such as SMART Recovery. While it may feel uncomfortable at first to share your experiences in addiction and your early recovery with complete strangers, you realize that you and your peers are there for one reason: to help and support each other in their sobriety. As you progress in treatment, you become more comfortable in not only receiving support and encouragement from others–you are also more comfortable in providing support to those who experience moments of doubt and uncertainty.

Once you complete treatment and begin the transition back into your busy work and family life, you realize that the real work in recovery has just begun. The stresses and triggers of your environment can make you feel vulnerable to relapse, and you need the ongoing support of an addiction support group to stay clean and sober. These types of support groups are a staple of aftercare programs, and they are an essential tool in a recovering addict’s “toolbelt”. Without them, you are often left to your own devices in trying to deal with the urges in your environment–and oftentimes you end up making poor choices.

What Do Addiction Recovery Support Groups Provide?

Addiction support groups offer members solid support for issues relating to substance abuse. While we are familiar with those group designed to help the substance abuser, there are mutual addiction support groups like Al-Anon and Nar-Anon that provide support for family members, close friends, or anyone else affected by a loved one’s substance abuse. These groups are run by the members themselves, and research shows that participating in these peer-centered groups increase the chances of long-term recovery for those who attend.

As stated previously, the number one focus of these groups is to help members get and stay sober. Groups such as AA use these meetings as a place to talk about the feelings tied to addiction and recovery, their everyday lives, and how they are doing in their efforts to avoid drugs and alcohol. They follow a specific program or set of rules to help them develop a healthy recovery-based lifestyle. For those who attend support group meeting, they gain the most benefit by learning from example. From learning what and what not to do from those who have been there, the addict can apply those lessons to their own recovery and pass it on to others.

Again, what treatment is best for every individual is always going to vary widely considering we are complex beings. The best way to find out what is the best step to take for either yourself or a loved one suffering through an addiction is to talk to an addiction specialist today, available 24/7.

Don’t let confusion and misinformation get in the way of help.

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  • I have a friend who struggles with drinking, but he is considering getting counseling soon. I like your point about how you meet other people in support groups that can help you. I can see how having a group of sober people all committed to the same goal would be encouraging to try and quit.

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