It’s a question that every addict asks himself at some point: Do I need drug treatment? The short answer, to put it as bluntly as possible, is and has got to be an unqualified yes. No one overcomes drug dependency without proper rehabilitation care; no one beats addiction outside of a treatment center. If you want to get better, you’ve got to get help: help from a qualified drug rehab program, help that can set you on a path towards meaningful and lasting sobriety. Drug addiction recovery, in the end, demands drug addiction treatment. There’s just no other way out of the darkness.
But that’s not to say that successful drug treatment is simply a matter of checking into any facility. The process is, to say the least, an arduous one, and only those who resolve to be active agents for their own healing can ever hope to get better. Treatment, you might say, can’t and doesn’t work unless you make it work. That’s the only bottom line that could ever matter.
And so what does that mean, in a practical sense?: What can you do to make it work, and what is it, in that end, that makes drug abuse treatment effective? Simply put, those who get sober and stay sober are thsoe who prepare themselves to be healed: who knows what to expect, and understands what’s at stake. In that sense, it’s fair to say that self-education is an integral part of effective drug treatment.
What follows is a brief overview of the drug rehabilitation process, a summary of addiction and addiction recovery which should at the very least offer you a glimpse of the road ahead. Yes, the way is long, and the journey will be hard…but treatment really can work, provided you enlist the support of competent professionals and resolve to make recovery real for you. Again: In the end, there’s no substitute for personal agency, and individual determination. If a drug treatment program is going to work, you’ve got to be the one to make it go.
Drug Addicts and Addiction
How severe is America’s addiction problem? In a word: very. Drug addicts constitute a troubling and increasingly large percentage of the American population, and there’s no doubting the impact of drug abuse itself: It wrecks lives, and families, and careers; it turns addicts into mere shadows of the people they used to be. The truth, obviously, isn’t pretty, but an accurate conception of drug use and abuse is a vital precursor to any successful drug rehab program.
First, the statistics: Most government studies indicate that as many as fifteen million Americans are physically dependent on drugs and alcohol. Fifteen million addicts: It is, by any measure, a startling figure. Those fifteen million candidates constitute roughly five percent of the total United States population, and should by virtue of their numbers suggest the importance of residential drug treatment in shaping the future of American society.
But statistics make for notoriously bad storytellers, and the truth about addicts and treatment can’t be told in purely statistical terms. Indeed, drug abuse treatment is so important precisely because drug addicts themselves are so important: Each addict is, obviously, a unique and very real human being, and drug treatment programs save unique and very real lives. It isn’t vital to our national interest because it makes government studies more statistically appealing; it’s vital to our national interest because it quite literally makes life worth living again, both for drug addicts and the people who care about them.
Not that you need to be told any of that. You’ve made it this far, as so you obviously know what’s at stake: You know that drug addiction strips addicts of the ability to relate to anything besides themselves and their drug habits; you know that a drug treatment facility is your last best chance to achieve any kind of lasting and meaningful sobriety. But that isn’t and can’t be the end of the story: knowledge only matters, in the context of treatment or anything else, if you’ve got the will to turn it into action.
Beating Drug Dependency
To beat drug dependency, you’ve got to understand it: how it works, and why it’s so hard to overcome. Drug abuse, it’s important to note, is the product of an underlying clinical disease, and only treatment that addresses it as such can hope to help drug rehab patients achieve full and lasting recovery. It’s a simple truth, really: You can’t fight what you can’t see. No one beats drug addiction without first learning the facts about drug addiction itself.
Why is drug treatment so important? Think of it like this: When you’re sick, you go to a doctor. It’s obvious, isn’t it?: a disease demands medical care. In that sense, it’s absurd to expect a drug addict to get better without help from specially trained experts, or outside of a treatment facility. Clinical problems, in the end, can only be fixed with clinical solutions.
And what of those solutions, then? What’s the focus of addiction treatment, and why does it work when it does? Here’s another obvious point: treatment can’t be effective unless it confronts the entire scope of drug dependency. Addiction is a complicated disorder with deep underlying issues that often leaves an addict incapable of finding meaning in anything except their need to use drugs. The logical corollary, of course, is that to have the highest success rate for drug treatment it must be an all-the-way undertaking and must work on a comprehensive scale.
On a practical level, that means that it must be both physical and psychological in nature. Drug addicts are afflicted both in body and in mind, and only programs which effect physiological and emotional healing can lay a meaningful groundwork for lasting sobriety. Again, if you want to get better, you’ve got to get all the way better. Halfhearted solutions just won’t cut it.
Drug Rehabilitation and Recovery
As drug addiction is both a physical and psychological disorder, so must real recovery be that which addresses drug dependency in all its forms. Remember, meaningful sobriety is and can only be the result of holistic drug treatment. Before you can get better, you’ve got to get help…and that help has got to deliver what you need, when you need it.
Physical drug treatment serves to initiate the experience, and helps to set a tone for the rest of an addict’s stay. Given the physiological and metabolic dependencies associated with drug addiction, the first stage of sobriety can a physically traumatic one. In drug detox facilities, doctors and caregivers use medical regimens to mitigate the side effects of drug withdrawal, with an eye towards preparing patients for the addiction counseling that undergirds primary treatment.
And make no mistake: Substance abuse rehab cannot be an expressly physical proposition. Remember it only works if patients want it to work, and that long-term sobriety can only be predicated on an addict’s active choice to eschew drugs and drug use. Such a choice, in turn, does and must stem from personal growth, and emotional healing: addicts can’t choose not to use drugs until they develop new ways of engaging with the world, and new ways of understanding themselves.
And that, in the end, is the most fundamental goal of drug treatment: to help addicts reformulate their concepts of themselves, and learn to face the strains of living without succumbing to the urge to get high. It’s a long road, of course, and no one who’s traveled it will ever tell you that it is easy. Drug rehab centers save lives, and help addicts rediscover that life can be amazing. In the end, nothing else could ever be more important.
The Sober Living Experience
It should perhaps go without saying: The recovery doesn’t end when an addict leaves a drug treatment facility, or completes a primary addiction treatment program. On the contrary, rehab must be and always is an ongoing process, a journey that addicts never really “complete” in any meaningful sense of the word. Addiction recovery never ends, is the bottom line, and so it is that sober living facilities, by providing a bridge between rehabilitation and independent sobriety, help to promote substantive long-term healing.
Remember, rehab succeeds over the long haul when you are able to actively eschew drugs and drug use. As important as psychological counseling is to that choice, anything that happens in a rehab center can only be a precursor to what follows: to the range of challenges and stresses that addicts face in the real world. Real recovery, it follows, has got to be based on practical healing.
And therein lies the importance of sober living programs, which build on the gains made in primary drug abuse treatment to effect substantive practical healing in a supportive environment. Sober living residents are able to test the waters of independence without being cast adrift upon them, thereby developing the functional life skills necessary to sustain drug recovery over the long run. Short of that kind of growth, drug treatment programs can’t ever hope to be effective.
A final note: Sober living, like treatment itself, is contingent on the efforts of its patients. It’s a not enough to check into a sober living facility and wait to get healed; you’ve got to want to get better, and work to get sober. Remember, the course of your addiction recovery experience is up to you. If you won’t heal yourself, no one else can do it for you.
Sobriety That Matters
Drug Rehab, as should probably go without saying, is only effective if it ends in sobriety. Sobriety, in turn, only matters if it lasts: Those addicts who get clean for a few months and then relapse into cycles of drug use and abuse haven’t achieved much of anything at all. With that in mind, the only successful drug rehab programs are those that create a framework for meaningful growth, and lasting recovery. To put it as simply as possible: If you really want to get sober, it’s got to be forever.
And that forever, it’s important to note, can only ever be up to you. Beyond drug treatment, beyond sober living, the only constant in your life is you: you who are and must be responsible for translating your growth in a rehabilitation center into real and lasting and meaningful sobriety. Again, when you check into a rehab, your future is very much up to. Nobody, not an addiction treatment professional or a sober living veteran, can ever take you anywhere you won’t go on your own.
If you take anything away here, let it be that you are the most important in this recovery process: the success or failure of any drug rehab program must ultimately rest upon you. If you want to get better, you can. If you resolve to get sober, you will. Again, so there’s no confusion: Drug treatment works when you make it work. For your own sake, and for the sake of anyone who’s ever cared about you, make today the day you start building a better tomorrow.
Read further information about: Dual Diagnosis.