* Getting them to go: Intervention information
* Drug detox information
* Residential drug rehab
* Should you go to long term drug rehab?
* What about drug maintenance therapy?
* Is addiction treatment a scam? Is it a ripoff?
* Should I just wait for them to come out with a cure for addiction instead?
* What if I am not interested in using the 12 step program? Should I still attend rehab? Are there alternatives?
* What happens if I relapse after leaving treatment? Is all of my effort wasted?
* How to stay clean after leaving drug rehab
Getting them to go: Intervention information
Many people have seen the television show “Intervention,” but they might be leery of attempting to pull one off on their own. In this case you have basically two options: you can organize it yourself, or you can call in a professional to help.
Hiring an interventionist is not generally cheap, and in my direct experience, they are not going to be as effective as what most people hope. Yes, they may be professional, and they may even do an excellent job at what they do, but I believe this has very little bearing on treatment outcomes. As such, my general suggestion would be to save your money and organize your own intervention.
I am sure many would disagree. This is based only on my experience, and my observations of those who seek professional treatment services. Surrender to the disease and genuine willingness to change are about ten times more important than having the right people for the job.
You have to want to get clean and sober….do we really believe that a professional intervention specialist is going to change that?
This does not mean that going through with an intervention is a bad idea. I just don’t think that it warrants outside help. Organize it yourself and do the best you can. There are more detailed alcohol intervention guides that can help you do this yourself.
Drug detox information
Depending on the drug of choice that is being abused, most people will typically spend a few days up to maybe a week at most in detox. This is a medically supervised area where pretty much all that is expected is that the client sleep and get well.
Detox is not the nightmare that some people think it is. In fact it is much like a vacation. Some people will have a very rough time in detox, but these are the exception rather than the rule. In fact, the vast majority if people who go through detox will be kept very comfortable through the use of medical attention and medication. This will, of course, depend on what type of drugs the person is coming off of. Some drugs are more difficult to detox from than others. But on the whole, most detox centers will be able to keep just about everyone reasonably comfortable during the detox process.
If you are afraid of suffering through detox, this is no excuse. Your fear of discomfort has become unreasonably large. Really, it is not that bad. Anyone can get through it without too much trouble.
Residential drug rehab
Thanks to the modern media, pretty much everyone has a clear picture of what a drug rehab center is like: groups, lectures, meetings, and so on…..all in a rather intimate environment with a group of your peers. This is a relatively accurate portrayal and this is what you can expect of pretty much any rehab out there. Yes there are some differences and some treatment centers will even deviate from the 12 step program (they are few and far between though).
Many addicts and alcoholics are afraid of groups, or afraid of being put on the spot in front of other people. Thus they fear residential treatment and are not willing to take the plunge and go to rehab. Really, these fears are unfounded because the atmosphere during these groups sessions is generally light and friendly. In fact, the prevailing attitude in these types of rehab groups is very laid back and no one is really forced to participate in a manner which makes them uncomfortable.
Bottom line: don’t let the fear of groups or your social anxiety hold you back from getting the help you need. Rehab is very easy going, very laid back, and no one is going to force you to stand up and make a speech or put you on the spot. More likely what will happen is that you will bond with the peers you meet there and make some really strong connections, and get much relief from talking with others.
Should you go to long term drug rehab?
Most people are leery of the idea of long term rehab. They hear the suggestion and they instantly recoil in horror, thinking that a trip to rehab that lasts longer than a month is something that sounds like a prison sentence. Most people cannot imagine the prospect of living in a long term drug rehab center for several months or even a year. The commitment is too big, too massive to wrap our head around.
Many addicts and alcoholics, upon hearing the suggestion of long term treatment, argue that it is too big of a sacrifice. They argue that they have too much responsibility in their lives. Some of them may have families, jobs, children, and so on. So they argue that they are not in a position to be able to go to long term treatment, because they simply have too much responsibility.
This is denial. Their excuse of having too much responsibility is imagined. What if they died from their addiction? Would the world continue to keep turning without them in it? In their mind, they have decided that it would not be able to–they are just too important. So they have to get past this block in order to realize that they can, actually, put their life on hold in order to seek help. For some addicts, putting their life on hold and going to long term rehab may be the only way for them to stay alive. It might be the only thing that can save them. And yet some will stubbornly refuse to do so because they think it is too big of a commitment.
So should you go to long term treatment? Possibly. One thing that you have to look at is what people are suggestion to you. We get stuck in denial when we ignore the suggestions of others. Does this mean we should jump off a cliff? No. But if more than one person is urging long term treatment, or if they continue to suggest it over a period of time, then we are in denial if we continue to ignore them.
Certainly, if nothing else is working for you and producing meaningful, long term recovery, then you should start to consider the idea of long term treatment.
What about drug maintenance therapy?
Depending on the drug that you are addicted to, there may be the option of using something called drug maintenance therapy in order to avoid your drug of choice. The most common example of this is with opiates such as heroin, and people who take a drug such as Methadone or Suboxone as a daily maintenance in order to avoid using street drugs. Methadone is a full opiate and Suboxone is a partial opiate, so both of them essentially are replacing the heroin or other opiates that an addict might be addicted to. The idea is that these substances are safer, more controlled, and can lead to less crime in the long run.
In addition to opiates, they are currently experimenting with maintenance drugs for other addictive substances as well, though none of these have made it into the mainstream just yet. But they may be coming. So many people are curious if this is a good option for them in recovery.
I am in a position where I work in a drug rehab and I see a certain percentage of addicts who attempt to use drug maintenance in order to stay clean and sober. Based on my informal analysis, I am really pretty discouraged with maintenance therapy. It just seems like most of the addicts who attempt to use this system end up coming back to rehab for more treatment at some point. In my mind, this should happen much less than with other people, because they are using the maintenance drug to avoid relapse, and it should help, right? The numbers I witness seem to indicate otherwise. Mind you, this is nothing scientific, and I am sure there are studies out there that support the use of maintenance drugs, but my informal analysis proves to me that–at the very least–this is no magic bullet.
So if you do consider drug therapy of some sort, I would urge you to put in a full effort into your recovery outside of the maintenance therapy. In other words, do not rely on the drug therapy to keep you clean and sober. It obviously takes much more than that in order to sustain recovery.
Is addiction treatment a scam? Is it a ripoff?
Sometimes rehab can appear to be a scam, because of the following things:
1) It is expensive.
2) There are no guarantees.
3) Most will relapse after leaving.
4) It is very difficult to measure success rates, so there is not much data or percentage figures on what can be expected.
5) Most rehabs are based on a hundred year old program of spirituality that has not been closely studied by the medical community.
For people who have no experience with addiction, they might expect to be able to send an addict or alcoholic to a rehab, and have that person emerge “cured” a month later.
There is another large group of people who believe that if you find the best treatment center in the world that costs the most money, then surely that place could cure an addict or alcoholic by sending them there.
Both of these are completely false. The greatest and most expensive rehabs in the world have success rates that are actually quite similar to a free drug rehab that is built into a homeless shelter. Both facilities will produce about the same rates of success. You cannot buy sobriety.
The fact is that most people who become willing to attend treatment are not at the point where they are fully committed to following through with what they need to do in order to stay clean. Thus there is a large gap in the treatment industry. Many addicts are willing to attend rehab, but most are not willing to go beyond that and take real action in their lives and make drastic changes that will produce meaningful recovery. So most who do go to rehab will relapse. Simple as that.
Understand too that the first trip to rehab is part of a process. Most people who stay clean and sober after rehab do so after an average of 3 to 4 visits to treatment centers over a period of a few years. So treatment does work, and it is not a rip off. However, it just takes more time than most people expect that it should take. Rehab works, but it works slowly.
Should I just wait for them to come out with a cure for addiction instead?
This sounds ridiculous in theory but many people are secretly banking on this as a solution to their problem. In fact, the world is in a race right now to come up with all sorts of different drugs to help treat addiction. Several drug companies are pushing hard right now, doing studies, developing new test drugs, and so on–in order to try and tap into the substance abuse market. For example, there are drugs being tested to help with cravings for cocaine. There are drugs being tested right now to help with cravings for methamphetamine.
Here is the bottom line though: science and medicine has been predicting a cure for a long time, and it has not happened. There are more drugs on the market right now that do help with cravings (such as Campral for alcohol cravings), but for the most part these medications do not really make much difference. It is a stretch in some cases to even show progress over a placebo when it comes to the available drugs that can help with addiction.
In other words, we are not “there yet” when it comes to curing addiction and alcoholism, and we are probably not even close. The drug companies are pushing hard, but what they are coming up with is only showing weak to modest success in clinical trials. What the world expects is a slam dunk that can cure addictive behavior and substitute for treatment. It is probably not going to happen. Even if it does happen, the big question would be: “when?” Most people who are struggling with addiction and alcoholism need help right now. They do not have the luxury of waiting for new treatments to be developed.
What if I am not interested in using the 12 step program? Should I still attend rehab? Are there alternatives?
There are alternatives out there, and there are rehabs that do not use the 12 step program. But, there are very few of them, and you will have to hunt for them. If you just call up a local treatment center, chances are very high that it will be 12 step based.
This might be OK, even if you are not big on the 12 step program. You can still benefit greatly from going to rehab, even if you do not agree 100 percent with their treatment philosophy. It is still an abstinence based program that gets you some time sober and dries you out for a while. You can still make connections with other people in early recovery and find support. It is not all about the 12 step program in most cases and just about every rehab will have plenty of classes, information, resources, and groups that venture outside of the 12 step philosophy. In other words, rehab will be about much more than just 12 step meetings. So stay open to this possibility, even if you have to go to a treatment center in which you do not necessarily agree with the treatment philosophy.
Short term residential treatment is very….short. If you stay clean and sober, then spending 28 days or less in a program is going to be a very small drop in the bucket. Do not take it as something that has to dictate the rest of your life. You can go through rehab, get help, and then move on to create your own life in recovery. They have a saying in recovery: “take what works and leave the rest.” This applies to treatment philosophies as well. You can still benefit from rehab even if you do not agree with all of their methods.
What happens if I relapse after leaving treatment? Is all of my effort wasted?
As pointed out already, many people who leave treatment will relapse. In fact, most will. But rehab is a process, and remember that the average for sustained recovery is 3 to 4 visits to rehab before the person finally “gets it.”
So no, your effort is not wasted if you relapse. The ultimate goal is sustained sobriety, yes, but if you leave treatment and fail then this should only serve to be a learning experience for you. Now you know what will not work for you in the future. Now you know how much effort you need to put in if you want to end up relapsing. Thus it can show you how much harder you will have to work in the future in order to stay clean and sober. It will show you how serious you have to be in order to make it work.
If you relapse after rehab, take it as a learning experience. Get back into recovery as quickly as possible. Do not use it as an excuse to stay “out there” for months or even years.
How to stay clean after leaving drug rehab
This is the point of it all: How to stay clean after leaving drug rehab? How does the addict succeed in building a new life in recovery?
We all know that the statistics regarding relapse are grim. Most people do not make it and achieve long term recovery. But this is not to say that there is no hope, or that no one ever succeeds in recovery. Many do. But you have to realize that most do not make it work out in the long run, and those who do are putting forth a tremendous effort, taking action far above and beyond what others are willing to do.
Most people leaving rehab are not willing to put in the work that it takes to stay clean. If you want to embrace a new life in recovery, and start growing and learning new things and really appreciating a sober life, then you have to put in a ton of effort in order to make that a reality. If you just casually wish that things were different, but don’t put forth any extra effort, then nothing will really change in the end.
A good drug rehab will set you up for success when it comes to aftercare. For some people, this might mean attending outpatient therapy groups. For other people, this might mean going to a long term treatment center. And for others, it might mean simply attending 12 step meetings every day and becoming heavily involved in the 12 step fellowship.
Here is a news flash for the uninitiated: not all of these aftercare plans will work for everyone. In fact, most of them will fail. That is why the individual is responsible for finding a path in recovery that works for them. Most likely, you will have a therapist that is working with you directly in rehab. Tell them what works for you and what does not. No one is going to make you get clean and sober on your own. Much of the motivation, inspiration, and actual mechanics of how you stay clean are going to have to come from you. Others can help you, yes. But ultimately, you have to find what works for you. Do not try to push this responsibility onto someone else.
Here are 2 examples of an action plan for individuals leaving treatment:
Bad: “What are you going to do after you leave rehab?” Answer: “Well, you know, I’m going to hit a few meetings, I’m going to stay away from my trigger places, and I’m going to do what I need to do to stay clean and sober.”
Good: “What are you going to do after you leave rehab?” Answer: “I’m going to take the following actions: Every day, I’m going to go to a 12 step meeting. I’m going to call up my previous 12 step sponsor and start getting back into some serious step work with them. I’m going to get involved with service work again and work with others in recovery. I’m also going to attend outpatient group therapy on Monday and Wednesday and Friday.”
Notice that one answer is vague and the other is specific and action oriented. If you want to do well with your aftercare, then you should try to get specific and make everything be action based. If it is not action based, then break it down further until it is a list of stuff that you can actually do. In other words, don’t let your aftercare plan say “avoid old hangouts where I used to use drugs.” Instead, break it down into actionable steps, such as “Spend time with friend X, Y, and Z who are in recovery each week. Go work out or exercise on this day each week” etc. Plan out specific actions that will move you toward healthy living.
Planning out specific actions for your life may seem like overkill, and in the long term, it is. But when you first leave rehab, the chances of a relapse are so incredibly high, that you need to take massive action in order to avoid the possibility. Eventually, as you progress in recovery, life becomes more about balance and healthy living in general….it will not always be about meetings and therapy and groups. But in early recovery, having this laser focus is an asset that you cannot afford to ignore. Throw yourself into action–massive action–and you will stand a better chance of staying clean after you leave rehab. Make the call now to take massive action and get the help you need.