My belief is that inpatient drug rehab should be a starting point in recovery for any struggling drug addict or alcoholic. There are many reasons why I believe this to be the case, even though I fully acknowledge that treatment is by no means a magic bullet. Let’s take a closer look:
* First of all, inpatient rehab is very important from a safety standpoint when it comes to getting detoxed from most drugs. This includes alcohol, which can be particularly dangerous to come off of. Many people think that because alcohol is widely available compared to illegal drugs, it must not be as dangerous to detox from. Wrong. Alcohol withdrawal can be fatal if not handled properly, and anyone who starts to get the “shakes” when they quit drinking needs immediate medical attention. There are other symptoms as well but the main one will always be visible tremors. This is because the adrenaline system of the body is kicked into overdrive, because it has had the alcohol to suppress it for so long, and now there is suddenly no alcohol.
Other drugs other than alcohol can pose a threat to the struggling addict as well. In particular, Methadone can be fatal if someone goes off of it cold turkey without any supervision and has been taking a really high dose of it. There are other prescription drugs as well that can be fatal if you do not have a supervised detox.
In addition to these dangers, the sheer discomfort of a withdrawal done with no medications can be enough to sabotage your efforts and cause you to relapse before you even get started. Going to an inpatient detox and receiving medication is not “cheating” and you will not get hooked on the drugs they give you, because treatment centers ween you off of them before you are discharged. Don’t let this stop you from seeking help.
* Second of all, inpatient rehab gives you a much needed break in two ways. One, from your drug of choice and from all other substances, and two, from your environment. This second variable can catch many people off guard who have never tried to get clean and sober before because they do not realize how many things trigger them to want to use drugs and alcohol. For example, someone might walk back the same liquor store every day, or have friends who use drugs who drop by frequently, and so on. Our environment can be a powerful influence, and going to rehab gives you a clean break from that for a while.
* Third, inpatient rehabs give you a whole host of support options and coping skills that might be the key to avoiding relapse for you some day. For example, you might be set up with a counselor or a therapist for when you leave rehab, or you might go to group therapy, or be introduced to 12 step meetings, and so on. These are some of the starting points for skills you can learn and coping mechanisms that you might use to ultimately overcome your addiction some day.
There is a bit of a mindset out there that people check into rehab, leave, and then never use drugs or alcohol again, without really changing much in their life. Nothing could be further from the truth. In rehab you will learn that the only path to long term recovery is to change everything about your life. Everything! And rehab gives you a lot of opportunities and tools to be able to do that.
Inpatient treatment is not cheap, but it is almost always worth it in the end. Just ask any recovering addict or alcoholic who got their start in a rehab, and they will agree, it was the best decision they ever made.