When an individual begins seeking treatment for addiction many questions arise about what is involved in the entire process. In order to help you make an informed decision, below are some of the most frequently asked questions and their answers:
- What is detox and how is it done?
Detoxification refers to the process of helping a drug user or addict abstain from drugs and go through the withdrawal process with as little pain and discomfort as possible. The subjects of physical addiction and the safety and comfort of the patient are of primary concern in detox. Modern medical detox combined with holistic techniques make for a comprehensive approach in detox. Certain medications are often used in order to facilitate a gradual process whereby the user can easily come off the drug. Certain addictive psychotropic drugs, such as benzodiazepines, antipsychotics, and antidepressants, will usually require a gradual decrease in dosage. The ideal approach is of course that the user is off ALL drugs of any kind upon completion of detox – as contrasted with replacing one drug for another such as methadone to supplant heroin usage. There are many things to take into account when formulating an individualized detox program, such as which drugs are involved, poly-drug addiction, how long the person has been addicted, physical stamina and tolerance of the user, and many other factors.
- Can an addict quit drugs without help?
It has been done for sure. But it is not recommended. There are many reasons for this. Primary among them is the severity of withdrawal symptoms of certain drugs. Specific drugs create life-threatening symptoms including heavy seizures, hallucinations, and even psychosis if the addict tries to quit “cold turkey” without any qualified help. Among drugs that cause these effects are alcohol (long-term dependence), benzodiazepines and specific psychotropics, methadone, methamphetamine, and others. Any addict should consult with an addiction specialist to consider his or her options and safety.
- Does rehab even work?
Rehab has worked for millions of people. However, according to NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse), only about 11% of those needing specialized treatment even receive it. These figures vary from year to year, but have remained in the same range. The ideal result for a drug treatment facility would be the user who graduates and thereafter lives a drug-free and successful life. Staying drug-free for a few weeks or months is not the ideal end result for drug treatment. Nonetheless, many addicts “count the days” of their sobriety, and many do several programs before getting clean. No one system is universally applicable for all addicts. A comprehensive holistic approach uses multiple methodologies simultaneously to accommodate the highly individualized nature of each person’s substance abuse situation. Any program does better when combined with the willingness and determination of the recovering addict.
- What are the different approaches to rehab?
There are a number of different systems employed in both inpatient and outpatient rehab programs. Some of them are as follows:
- Twelve Step programs: Based on the materials of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): A system designed to assist a user in recognizing and avoiding situations and circumstances where they may become prone to drug use.
- Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT): A CBT system developed originally for use in correctional institutions, MRT has gained broader use in drug rehab. It is an educational and counseling program focused on decision-making, morals, consequences, and behavioral transition. The term “reconation” refers to cognizance or recognition.
- Communication Training: Concentrates on developing communication skills, highly applicable for a recovering addict as it addresses what in many cases comprises a root source for drug abuse.
- Faith-Based Rehab: Encompasses a wide range of spiritual and religious-based treatment approaches; faith-based rehab can be done in a multi-denominational setting.
- Counseling: A wide range of counseling is used in rehab including individual and group therapies. Other systems employed in rehab include vocational training and guidance, literacy improvement, education, plus a wide spectrum of aftercare services such as continued meetings and establishment of stable support networks.
- Holistic Rehab: Holistic is a general term used to describe a broad spectrum of rehab systems, the general principle being that multiple approaches can and should be taken in order to deal with each individual on a personal level. Treatments that could fall under the holistic approach include massage, sauna, yoga, fitness, martial arts, music therapy, arts therapy, spirituality, Native American traditions, acupuncture, Eastern philosophy, herbal remedies, nutritional therapy, and use of vitamin & mineral supplements.
- Is prescription drug abuse as bad as illicit drug abuse?
Prescription drug abuse can be just as bad as or worse than street drug abuse. In fact, it has been described as an “epidemic” by our federal government. Many of our illicit drugs once started out as prescription drugs including heroin, cocaine, and meth. Prescription opioids and psychotropics are rather easy to obtain and have been subject to a wide range of abuses; addicts will crush, snort, smoke, and inject the drugs.
The only “advantage” to prescription pills is that they are made in a controlled pharmaceutical lab as contrasted with drugs produced in illicit labs and cook operations where a wide variety of toxic chemicals are added. With illegal drugs, the user may even get a completely different substance than the one they think they’re getting. Still, abusers of prescription drugs take vast quantities of pills in order to feed their addiction, as well as combining various drugs which are both dangerous and even fatal.
- How long does rehab take?
It totally depends on the program and the individual. Some programs are scheduled to last as long as the person’s insurance. Ideally a program should be open-ended so the addict has the opportunity to deal with the many facets of the addiction.
- How big a problem is relapse?
People will tell you different things about relapse and will debate about the length of time that must elapse for a relapse to be considered a relapse. A good way to avoid this argument is to take the approach that rehabilitation should last for life. Certain drugs, such as methamphetamine, are known for a very low success rate in traditional rehab. Regardless, the next approach to take is that no one is hopeless. If someone relapses, more work is needed. A comprehensive strategy combined with the willingness and determination of the individual is an excellent foundation. Many in the rehab field subscribe to the “never give up on anyone” philosophy.
- What are the signs of drug abuse and addiction?
You can always ask someone if they are using or abusing drugs or alcohol. It is also vital to know the signs and warning signals, some of which are:
- Eyes glazed over; bloodshot eyes; dilated or constricted pupils
- Weight loss; gaunt; emaciated; weight gain; changes in appetite
- Degeneration in personal appearance; unhygienic, dirty, unkempt
- Tooth decay (especially true of meth addiction)
- Dazed appearance; stupor
- Poor job performance; absenteeism; dismissal
- General lack of interest; abandonment of goals
- Traffic violations; accidents; DUI
- Person out all night; missing for hours or days with no explanation
- Abandonment of friends and family
- Denial that any problem exists; assertion that they can quit any time
- Changes in sleep habits; insomnia; awake or sleeps extended periods
- Manic behavior, euphoric highs followed by depression
- Theft; criminal activity; steals from family or friends
- Changes in sexual habits; uses sex to obtain drugs
- Erratic or incoherent behavior
- Aggression; violent behavior
- Suicidal thoughts or behavior
- Is addiction a disease?
Addiction certainly does affect brain chemistry and a person who is physically addicted can get sick and experience a wide range of withdrawal symptoms if they abruptly stop using. But does an addict have a brain anomaly or disease from the outset that predisposes him or her to addiction?
Much more evidence points to individual personality, education, and environmental factors than to the theories of disease. An addict could be described as having a sickness, but the best approach by far has always been to address the physical, mental, personal, familial, social, societal, environmental, and indeed the spiritual factors present.
- How does one choose which treatment center or option is best?
Some of the individual factors to consider when choosing treatment options:
- What drug or drugs have been abused and for how long
- Medical history of the individual; any acute or chronic diseases or conditions
- Inpatient vs. outpatient treatment
- Previous attempts at rehabilitation
- Any criminal offenses (convicted or not)
- History of physical or sexual abuse
- Willingness and determination level of the individual
- Whether medications are used in detoxification
- Success rate of the program; success stories from graduates
- Approaches used in rehabilitation (see number 4 above)
- Religious, multi-denominational, or secular nature of program
- Involvement of family in the treatment process
- Financial and time constraints; insurance
- Aftercare programs; support networks
- Friendliness, professionalism, and expertise of the staff
- Willingness of the staff to answer all your questions
This is a brief overview of the many questions a person will have about addiction treatment. We invite you to call and let one of our counselors help you answer any further questions you did not see covered here.