Is Inpatient Treatment a Cure for Addiction? Not Quite, but it...

Is Inpatient Treatment a Cure for Addiction? Not Quite, but it is Still Your Best Option

Is inpatient treatment a cure for addiction?

There are two types of people when it comes to addiction and alcoholism inpatient treatment: People who understand that it is the best option, and people who are secretly hoping that it can cure or fix someone.

Much of the world does not realize that there is no cure. Many people imagine that if they had enough money that they could send someone to a unique and special rehab center that has the latest and greatest recovery techniques that can effectively “cure” someone. This is simply not the case. If you go to a “better” treatment center then all you are really getting are different surroundings.

Consider the example of the wealthy celebrity that goes to the nicest rehab center they can find. Upon leaving these places they continuously relapse. Later on they surrender fully to their disease and they also happen to be broke so they enter a rehab center that is set up for low income and the homeless. It is at that point that they finally turn their life around and manage to stick to sobriety for the first time.

This is not a fictitious example. In fact I experienced this same thing myself in my own recovery journey (though I am not a celebrity). What is important is not the rehab center itself but rather the level of surrender and commitment that the alcoholic or drug addict is making.

There is no such thing as a permanent cure for addiction

There is no such thing as a permanent cure for drug or alcohol addiction. No one is ever totally cured of the disease. This is because all it takes is one drink or one addictive drug and will send the alcoholic back into a tailspin. Their life will go back out of control and all of the old chaos and misery will instantly return.

It doesn’t matter how long a person is clean and sober for or what type of recovery program they are using. They could be sober for 40 years and swear off alcohol forever but it doesn’t matter in the face of relapse. They could suddenly find themselves addicted to a new medication that they are prescribed and this could in turn lead them back to drinking. It can all happen so fast if you are not actively working to prevent it.

Since there is no such thing as a permanent cure for addiction, inpatient rehab is obviously not a cure either. But it is the next best thing to a cure, and if you are struggling to get clean and sober you should take advantage of it.

There are many solutions for addiction, but inpatient treatment is probably the best option

If you are in early recovery from addiction there are many options available to you. For example you could simply start going to AA meetings every day. Or you could go see a therapist or a counselor on a regular basis. Or you could attend a rehab on an outpatient basis and go home each night.

But none of these solutions stack up to inpatient rehab. None of them are as strong or as powerful as the idea of checking into a controlled environment and staying for several weeks to focus on your problem. Inpatient rehab is the most concentrated form of help that you can find. And it is also the most controlled environment that you can find where your temptations to relapse will be non-existent.

Once you are in treatment it is not difficult to remain clean and sober. Being in rehab is not stressful or threatening. It is very easy to be in rehab and to maintain sobriety. Because I worked in a treatment facility for several years I have direct evidence of this. Even the hardest cases had no problem staying clean and sober while they were in this controlled environment. Let me also point out that this was true for both types of alcoholics: Those who were at total surrender and really wanted to change their life, and those who were still in denial and were destined to drink again some day even though they were “trying.” Both types of people found it easy to remain sober while in inpatient rehab.

The key, of course, is being able to remain sober once you leave treatment. This is where the real test begins and if you ever look up the success rates of treatment make sure you look at numbers that indicate the percentage remaining sober after 3 months, 6 months, and one year’s time. Those numbers paint a picture and it is generally a pretty grim picture, actually. But there is still hope and any single alcoholic or drug addict can turn their life around if they choose to do so. Anyone who genuinely wants recovery can achieve it through inpatient treatment, but they have to realize that they are going to have to work for it as well. It does not come easy and the process is not as simple as simply going to rehab and then going through the motions. It takes real effort to make sobriety work in the long run.

What the process of early recovery should be like for you

There is a certain process for how people recover from addiction. You should follow this basic process in order to help insure that you remain clean and sober.

The start of this process is surrender. This is a universal principle that everyone has to embrace if they want to turn their life around. You cannot hang on to the old if you want to figure out the new. And this is what so many alcoholics are trying to do while they are still in denial. They do not want to let go of their old life, their old behaviors, their old defense mechanisms. In order to truly change you must let go of everything and relearn it all from scratch. This is the process of surrender. It is the same process as moving past your denial.

In order to get to this point you have to experience a great deal of pain and misery. Either that or your tolerance for emotional pain and turmoil must be extremely low. But the alcoholic will not seek help until the pain of their addiction becomes greater than the fear of change and facing the unknown. There is a balance between pain and fear that dictates how long you stay in denial. Once you become willing to face your fears about sobriety and recovery then you tip the scales in favor of change. But every alcoholic and drug addict who is stuck in denial is afraid to face life sober. The key is that they have to get so sick and tired of being miserable that they become willing to face that fear. This is the turning point. This is when they surrender and can then go ask for help.

Many times an alcoholic or drug addict will ask for help before this point. They are not really ready to change their whole life but they think that they might be. Or they just want a break from the chaos but they are not really ready to change everything. So they might go to rehab for a while but then relapse. This is because they are still in denial and they are holding on to some sort of reservation. They are not done drinking or using drugs. They have not surrendered fully. They are in a state of partial surrender.

Full surrender, true surrender involves hitting bottom and then asking for help. This part is critical to the early recovery process. When you ask for help it is a signal that you are ready to change your life.

After you ask for help you must take advice and direction. The first of this advice will likely be for you to attend inpatient rehab. Most people in your life will want to steer you towards professional help. So it is likely that people will suggest that you go to treatment, and you should certainly do so. It is not the only option but it is, in most cases, the best option.

Alcoholics and addicts like to make excuses why they cannot attend inpatient rehab. Most of us are pretty good at making up such excuses on the spot with very little effort. But the truth is that we are simply running in fear when we make such excuses. And the excuses are all meaningless anyway in the face of the true consequences of addiction. Keep in mind that there are really only a few possible outcomes to an addiction that is left untreated, and those are “jails, institutions, and death.” There is no happy ending for someone who continues to self medicate.

And this is why people appear so foolish when they are stuck in denial and refuse to go to treatment. They are making excuses as to why they should not go to rehab, but they don’t realize how foolish they appear because they are facing potential death. Their addiction is killing them and yet they make up some lame excuse why they cannot go to rehab. Some people blame it on their family and say “My kids need me!” This is completely stupid though because eventually the addiction will kill you and your kids will not have you then either. Better that they miss you for a month and get you back sober than to have you dead or incarcerated sometime in the near future, right?

This is why excuses don’t make any sense. The reward for a lifetime of sobriety has infinite value compared to the misery of addiction. It is no contest. Every sacrifice should be made to get to rehab and turn your life around. No excuse is legitimate as to why a certain alcoholic or addict cannot attend rehab. No excuse can stand up to scrutiny, because the risk/reward factor is so heavily skewed in favor of sobriety. If you continue to self medicate and avoid treatment then life just keeps getting worse and worse. If you go to rehab and stay sober then your life just keeps getting better and better. This is not a subtle difference, it is huge. Stuck in the misery of addiction for a lifetime, or living in sobriety and having your life constantly improve over time. It is really no contest.

Every struggling alcoholic and drug addict should consider going to rehab

If you are struggling with drug addiction or alcoholism then your next step in life is to go to inpatient treatment.

The only question is whether or not you are willing to take that step.

I admit that most of us are not ready to take that step at any given moment. Denial is a powerful thing. Keep in mind that if you are at this turning point that I describe here (too miserable to go on living, too scared to check into rehab and face sobriety) then you are actually at the perfect point in life to make this leap of faith. That is exactly what it feels like to be on the cusp of breaking through your denial. You are sick and tired of being sick and tired. You are afraid of sobriety (even though most people will not admit to any sort of fear). But the chaos and misery of addiction just continues to pile up against you. You are caught in a negative downward spiral.

Now is the perfect time to make that leap of faith. In fact there will never be a better time than when you are feeling like you just cannot go on either way. This is what it feels like to be at the infamous turning point: You cannot imagine living another day in your addiction, and you cannot imagine getting sober either. Both paths have become terrifying to even contemplate. You are sick of being miserable.

Now is the time to take the plunge. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain at this point. So what if you go to rehab and it turns out badly, that is better or the same as the results that you are currently experiencing in your life anyway. You are miserable from addiction and it can’t get much worse without killing you outright. Any change is better than the status quo. The status quo is not only miserable, but it is also killing you. Time to try something different.

That “something different” is most easily approached by simply going to rehab. Pick up the phone and call up a treatment center. Ask them what it will take for you to come into treatment. There are other options available but none of them are as good as this path. This is the strongest path that the struggling alcoholic or addict can choose. You surrender, you ask for help, you go through a medical detox, and you go through inpatient rehab in a safe environment. Of course none of this actually insures that you will remain sober forever, but it is still the strongest start that you can possible get in recovery. Every alternative to this plan is weaker.

What to do if nothing else has worked for you

If nothing else has worked for you then it is time to try something different.

In the program of AA they like to talk about one definition of insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Whatever you have been doing in life has not worked out for you. It takes guts and it takes humility but at some point you have to throw in the towel and admit “I don’t know how to live. Please show me.” This is the right attitude for recovery.

If nothing else has worked for you then try turning over your recovery completely. Turn it all over. To whom, you ask? To something else. To someone else. It doesn’t really matter who or what you relinquish control to, so long as it is not yourself. When you are in the driver’s seat you create more chaos and misery in your life. Is this not the truth of the matter? Has your addiction not become progressively worse over time? Are you happy today than you were a year ago? For the struggling alcoholic, the answer is “no,” their life always gets worse and worse over time. The consequences continue to pile up as they grind out their existence in addiction.

There is a way to fix this. It is not really a “cure” per se, in fact it is better than a cure in some ways. If you could instantly “cure” an addiction then all it would do is to remove the obsession and the compulsion to use alcohol and drugs. This would not be that great because all of the other problems and issues in your life would still be there.

What recovery actually is becomes much more than this fantasy cure. What ends up happening in recovery is that you start to improve your life and your life situation and then things start to compound over time. The positive effects and the benefits of sobriety begin to multiply. This takes time to happen though and it also requires a serious effort from the individual, so many people never really experience this. Or rather, they do not experience these rewards until the reach a point of full surrender.

So they give up their drug of choice. They go to rehab and establish a foundation of recovery. Then they start learning how to live a life without self medicating. But they also go beyond this and start to improve their life and their life situation. They work to eliminate shame, guilt, fear, anger, resentment, and self pity. Then they work to improve their situation in life and eliminate stress, improve relationships, and so on. Life gets better and better and before you know it they look back and realize just how far they have come. They look back and realize suddenly that they are no longer miserable, and that they are happy in sobriety. But it takes work. It takes a sustained effort. It takes time for these shifts to occur in life, for our priorities to change, for the rewards to become more real for us. It takes time in recovery before you can appreciate peace and simplicity and get real joy out of the simple things. That does not happen after one week of sobriety. It takes time. So you have to make that leap of faith and give it time. Because it will be tough at times and there will probably be moments when it seems like it will never get any better. But I am telling you now, having been clean and sober for years and years now, that it does in fact get better. I was miserable once, and I was even miserable at times during my early recovery. I thought it would never get any better so I almost went back to drinking. But I stuck it out and I started taking suggestions from other people and before I knew it I was happy.

Today I have peace in my life. Contentment. I am no longer living in fear. This can be a reality for any alcoholic or addict if they are willing to make that leap of faith. It is the faith that says “I can go to rehab, I can follow directions, and I know that my life will get better some day.”

And at the very least, you must realize that if you go to rehab, it can’t possibly be any worse. And sometimes that is enough.


What about you, do you think that inpatient rehab is the best option for early recovery? Why or why not? Let us know in the discussion forums. It only takes a second to register!