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Starting On The Path To Addiction Recovery

path to recovery

Addiction has both physiological and psychological components, both of which need to be addressed, and it’s important to note that the psychological components are not easily treatable until the physiological ones are addressed. What this means is that detox is essential at the beginning of recovery no matter what, and regardless of the approach, a reduction in the use of a substance is necessary for treatment to begin, but it will take a toll on both the body and mind. We learn from WebMD that,

Stress is a major stimulus for drug craving, according to people with opioid addiction. Not surprisingly, life stress is one of the main reasons people give for relapsing into prescription drug abuse. For all these reasons, learning methods to better cope with stress are an essential part of drug abuse recovery.

When people become addicted to drugs or alcohol, their mind and body become accustomed to the substance, and they have in turn made physical and mental adjustments in order to cope with its constant influences. Once you take the substance out of the equation, the body must readjust to its absence, and this is called post-acute withdrawal. The symptoms of post-acute withdrawal can be quite uncomfortable, but with the right care and support, they can be totally manageable.

Residential Treatment Centers

You will hear residential treatment centers called many things, and they all offer a variety of treatment approaches. Some go by the names of ‘clinics,’ ‘rehabs,’ ‘recovery homes or houses,’ ‘retreats,’ ‘halfway houses,’ or ‘sober homes,’ but no matter what it’s called, the most common approach is one that addresses the medical needs of the individual while offering a 12 step program that includes such things as workshops, group meetings, and individual therapies. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says,

Medication and behavioral therapy, especially when combined, are important elements of an overall therapeutic process that often begins with detoxification, followed by treatment and relapse prevention. Easing withdrawal symptoms can be important in the initiation of treatment; preventing relapse is necessary for maintaining its effects.

Out-Patient Facilities

Out-patient facilities are perfect for those individuals that cannot afford the time or expense of a residential treatment center, and they offer more of a wide array of choices for both the addict, and their families. These choices often include things like counseling, group meetings, family support, relapse prevention workshops, as well as support and training for employers, school staff, pregnant women, and parents dealing with addiction problems.

Individual Counseling

Most rehab counselors will combine cognitive-behavioral, motivational, insight, and goal oriented therapies for the best rate of success, and this will usually involve you sitting down with the counselor to examine your challenges, what you hope to get out of therapy, what your long and short-term goals look like, and the course of action needed to meet those goals. On-going sessions with your counselor will be continued until either you or your therapist determines that they are no longer needed. Qualified counselors will be able to recognize physical and psychological issues that are beyond what they are able to care for, and will be able to point you in the right direction of someone that will be able to help you better. Helpguide.org tells us,

Change is possible with the right treatment and support, and by addressing the root cause of your addiction. Don’t give up-even if you’ve tried and failed before. The road to recovery often involves bumps, pitfalls, and setbacks. But by examining the problem and thinking about change, you’re already on your way.

Skilled, well-trained counselors are able to approach each client as an individual with unique challenges requiring a custom fit solution, and if you are interacting with a counselor that believes there is one solution that applies to everyone in addiction recovery, then the person you are talking to is neither skilled, nor well-trained. Therapeutic styles must be empathic, client centered, and above all flexible, no matter if they accept the disease model or the life-process model of addiction.

Disease Model

Evidence-based theories are what the disease model of addiction is built upon, and the base concept is the evidence that all drugs, whether they be cocaine, marijuana, alcohol, methamphetamine, tobacco, or other, activate pathways in the brain that control how badly we want something. The neurotransmitter dopamine is released as pleasure is experienced, and the same is true with drugs, as they all will activate its release. For instance, one professor noted that during an HBO program on drug addiction that the drugs pictured were 5 times more compelling than things we normally crave such as sex or food, and that this is because they commandeer our brain reward system and drive our behaviors. The brain reward system and its resulting behaviors are the 2 points at the heart of the disease model, and the consequent medical way of treating addiction. In many cases, treatment may include medication to deal with the biological components as counseling deals more with the behavioral aspects.

This brain-centered understanding regards the biological and behavioral components as inseparable, and while it does not challenge an individual’s free-will or responsibilities, it does help to explain why an addicted person’s will has to contend with some very powerful influences. Also, without finding the right help, they are more likely to succumb to those bad influences instead of making the rational choice to stop using altogether.

Life-Process Model

Supporters of the life-process model of addiction are not believers of the disease model and claim that addiction is a habit that develops as a result of a loss of satisfaction and ability to cope which can only be addressed by way of social relationships and common life experiences. People that advocate for this process will usually reject the validity of any recent scientific evidence, the interpretation of said evidence, or even the use of the word ‘disease.’ They are more inclined to believe that the person will be able to regain control of his or her life through strength of will, and by repairing any personal or social relationships that have been damaged.

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