Despite addiction being so common, there are still so many people who aren’t aware of how it develops or how it’s treated. The average person who has never personally experienced addiction and never had a loved one suffer from the disease assumes that getting sober requires a somewhat brief stint in rehab and then you’re sober. As much as we would like the recovery process to be so simple, that’s not exactly the way it works out.
Specifically, addiction recovery is not a task that you cross off a to-do list or a destination to which you arrive after short travels. There are plenty of addiction treatment resources available to help addicts get their lives back after being in the throes of addiction, including various types of addiction treatment programs, support groups, books, psychotherapy, recovery coaches, and various others, but none of them can restore an addict back to optimal health overnight. In short, addiction recovery is a process, and it’s a very different process for everyone since every person who becomes addicted to alcohol or drugs is different. For this and other reasons, it’s imperative for everyone to be familiar with the concept of addiction as a journey rather than as a destination. Not only is this more accurate, but by inhibiting the assumption that a person can reach the point of being “finished” with or having completed the addiction treatment process.
To discuss how addiction is a journey rather than a destination, we must recount some of the key steps of addiction recovery so that we can understand what occurs during each step, how each step builds upon the one preceding it, and what the ultimate “result” of the recovery product is.
Denial is one of the most common hallmark signs of addiction. Although, not all addicts deny the reality or severity of their addictions, it’s fair to say that most addicts will experience some type of denial at some point in their addictions. More often than not, addicts use denial as a way to protect themselves from the guilt and shame that come with becoming an addict; since they were aware that alcohol and drug abuse will eventually result in chemical dependence if a person continues to abuse them over time, the development of an addiction seems almost inexcusable and embarrasses them because addiction could have been very easily prevented.
It’s often said that the first step on the road to recovery is to overcome one’s denial. This makes a lot of sense since it’s an addict’s denial that prevents hIm or her from pursuing the various recovery resources that are available. By overcoming denial, a person is allowing him or herself to begin the recovery process, effectively demonstrating that he or she doesn’t want to remain in the throes of active addiction permanently.
Once an addict has acknowledged his or her addiction and becomes ready and willing to begin the recovery process, it’s time to start looking for the right forms of treatment and the best rehab for one’s needs. While this may sound straightforward, current estimates place the number of addiction treatment centers in the U.S. at 14,000, which is a staggering number. There are such a high number of facilities available so that every addict can be assured his or her unique recovery needs are met over the course of his or her treatment program.
The things a person learns while in an alcohol or drug rehab are meant to be utilized when the individual returns home. For instance, psychotherapy is at the crux of most addiction rehabilitation programs because it’s how addicts learn about the underlying mental, emotional, and/or social factors that contributed to their becoming addicted in the first place; by learning about these factors, the recovering addicts can be more aware of them and prevent them from causing similar problems in the future. As well, relapse prevention training is another mainstay of rehabilitative programming, teaching individuals how to resist urges and cravings as well as any triggers they might encounter after returning home. In short, everything a person learns while in rehab is not only meant to help them get sober, but are also meant to be utilized so that the individual can remain abstinent.
Returning home from rehab is always a little scary: The last time he or she was at home it was in active addiction and at rehab it was easier to get and stay sober because the environment is drug-free and monitored. Once a person gets home from rehab, the real work begins because the recovering addict must assume responsibility and become accountable for his or her own sobriety. This requires the individual to utilize what was gained at rehab, such as relapse prevention tools and the common sense to avoid people, places, and situations that put one’s sobriety at risk. However, this is more challenging than it sounds.
Becoming sober after living in the throes of active addiction for an extended period of time requires essentially re-learning a lost way of life. By comparison, a person learns to be an adult over the course of childhood, adolescence, and throughout his or her teenage years; therefore, learning to become sober in a relatively short period of time requires intense energy and focus. Moreover, the disease of addiction cannot be cured and is never fully gone; instead, it’s more accurate to say it’s in remission. However, the structural and some of the functional changes in the brain remain, requiring active effort on the recovering addict’s part to remain sober. Although it gets easier and easier over time, a recovering addict’s journey is never really “over”; rather, it’s an ongoing journey.
If you or someone you love would like to discuss the treatment options we have available, call Intervention Services toll-free at 877-478-4621. We’re available anytime, whether day or night, so call us today and begin your journey to health.