Recovery from both substance and behavioural addictions is a complex process involving both medical and psychological treatment methods. It is not something with an easy and quick solution enabling the recovering addict to return to normal in just a few hours. However, with the right attitude and a good support system, there is no reason one cannot get well.
Understanding the complex nature of addiction recovery begins with an understanding of what addiction actually is. Addictive behaviour is defined as any compulsive behaviour someone engages in despite knowing that behaviour carries with it some very detrimental consequences. The possibility of such consequences is what sets addiction apart from compulsion.
The person addicted to substances or certain kinds of behaviour knows that continuing to do what he or she is doing could ruin their health, their family, their finances, and so on. Yet despite knowing this, he or she continues to engage in the behaviour anyway.
The Physical and Psychological Treatment Methods
The next thing to understand is that addiction has two components: the physical and the psychological. The physical addiction is the one that is most readily seen and the easier to conquer. Physical addiction is a result of something known as tolerance; a condition best explained by using alcohol as an example.
When a person drinks, the alcohol in his or her system affects the way their brain works. When they drink only occasionally, no long-term change of brain function is observed. However, someone who drinks regularly is a different story. The more often alcohol is in the system, the more the body get used to it being there. The result is that the drinker needs to consume more in order to enjoy the same effects. That is tolerance.
Tolerance causes physical addiction by constantly requiring more of the substances being used. As for psychological addiction, it is the result of relying on addictive substances or behaviours to cope with life. It can take on many forms, including fear of living without the addictive substances or behaviours or mistakenly believing addictive behaviour is the solution to one’s problems rather than the cause of them.
Treating the physical and psychological aspects of addiction is the job of trained doctors, therapists, and nurses. They use several different treatment methods depending on the addictive substances and behaviours, the severity of an individual addiction, and any other circumstances that might influence outcome.
The two main methods of treatment are detox and psychotherapy. Detox is the process of abstaining from using addictive substances in order to allow the body to cleanse itself entirely. Detox can be either medicated or non-medicated, depending on the doctors and therapists overseeing care.
When psychotherapy is utilised for addiction recovery, there are a long list of treatment methods therapists can choose from. Some of the most popular and highly successful are:
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – Also known as CBT, cognitive behavioural therapy is a one-on-one counselling therapy designed to help the recovering addict come to terms with his or her addictive behaviour. It teaches them what triggers addictive behaviour, the thoughts and emotions attached to it, and possible ways to avoid it in the future. It is a goal-oriented therapy rather than an open-ended one.
- 12-Step Programme – In the 1930s, the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous developed a 12-step programme that essentially forces recovering alcoholics to take ownership of their lives. The programme has been so successful over the decades that multiple addiction recovery organisations have adopted it as well. Nearly every rehab clinic in the UK employs of some form of the 12-step programme.
- Group Therapy – You may be familiar with the idea of group therapy by way of films and literature. And while group therapy does tend to be the butt of jokes from time to time, it is actually very useful for addiction recovery. Group therapy offers mutual support and accountability that can be difficult to achieve with one-on-one counselling.
- Off-Site Activity – It is common among addicts to believe there is no life worth living outside of addictive behaviour. Clinics throughout Essex and England use planned, off-site activities to help change that perception. A group might go to a sporting event or on organised trek in the countryside, for example. Getting out and doing things together let addicts see there is a completely new life waiting for them.
The Role of Medicine
During both detox and rehab, caseworkers may decide to use various forms of medication. When they do so, it is for specific reasons. For example, a heroin addict might be given methadone during detox in order to ease withdrawal symptoms and encourage a more gradual balancing of brain chemicals. An alcoholic might be given a medication after detox to reduce future cravings for alcohol.
The point here is that sometimes medications can be helpful in the process. However, these medications should not become a permanent substitute for the other substances the addict is trying to recover from. Unfortunately, that is often the case these days. True recovery means being 100% substance free, including maintenance medications.
You Can Be Helped
If you are currently dealing with any kind of abuse or addiction problem, we want you to know you can be helped. We have access to the best clinics in Essex, England and beyond; clinics that are ready and waiting to help you break free from your addictive lifestyle. We recommend a long-term residential treatment as the first and best option, but we can also help you take advantage of outpatient treatment if necessary.
Please understand that it is more important for you to make the decision to get whatever help you can. Finding appropriate treatment for your circumstances is our job. When you call, we will help you assess your current situation and then recommend the wisest course of action. We will even help you locate a clinic best suited to your location and needs.
We urge you not to let another day go by without seeking the help you need to overcome. Let us help you help yourself get well.