Despite being an illness of the brain, most unaffected people see addiction as something else entirely. They see it as a moral failing or a weakness on the part of the affected individual; some even believe it to be a lifestyle choice and one that is within the complete control of the person with the addiction.
The reality is very different though. If you were to think logically about addiction and the impact that it has on the life of the individual in question, you would realise that it is never a choice. Nobody would choose to do something that is so obviously so very bad for them. So why do individuals continue to use drugs or alcohol when doing so has negative consequences for their own life and the lives of those around them?
The answer is simple – they have no choice. Once affected by addiction, they are compelled to drink alcohol or take drugs, and even when they do not want to, they will be unable to resist the urge. What can be done about it though? Do they have to continue living this way or is there a way to break the cycle of substance abuse? Thankfully, treatment is available. But, what is addiction treatment and how can this be accessed?
The type of treatment involved in addiction recovery usually depends on a few factors. For example, the type of substance that is being abused will determine what types of treatment are expected to work best. Other things to consider are how long the affected person has been addicted for, the severity of his or her illness, and the presence of any underlying medical health issues.
Where a physical dependence exists, it is likely that the first part of the recovery programme will be a detoxification, or detox as it is more commonly known.
A detox takes place when you stop using the substance to which you are addicted. It is the process employed naturally by the body to eliminate any remaining chemicals that may have accumulated during your substance use.
After detox, your treatment does not end. While it is important that you quit whatever substance you have been abusing, it is also crucial that you deal with any issues that may have caused your addiction in the first place.
For the best chance of recovery from addiction, you are likely to need a comprehensive programme that includes both detox and rehabilitation.
If the question of ‘what is addiction treatment like?’, is one you have been asking yourself, then you will obviously be keen to learn more about it. For example, you may be wondering why a detox can be so complicated, and what causes the withdrawal symptoms that you have no doubt been hearing about.
As previously mentioned, detox occurs when you stop taking drugs or alcohol. When your body realises that no more chemical substances are forthcoming, it does what it is meant to do and readjusts. After all, this is what it did when you first began abusing a chemical substance.
As it adjusts to the fact that the drugs it has been used to receiving are not coming, it will try to get back to normal by eliminating the remaining traces of that chemical substance. However, in doing so, various bodily functions will either speed up or slow down to compensate; it is this that results in the often-unpleasant symptoms of withdrawal.
To understand this in more detail, it is important to consider what happened to your brain and body when you first started abusing alcohol or drugs. Depending on the type of substance that you were using, your body and brain would have tried to resist by doing the opposite to whatever the chemical substance was trying to do.
So, for example, if you took a drug that worked by slowing down your central nervous system, your body would have tried to resist by speeding up certain processes. The opposite would have been the case if the substance you took was a stimulant. As the effects of the substance began to wear off, your body would have adjusted again in an effort to get back to normal.
After a while, your brain and body would have become used to the presence of your substance of choice, which would have meant that you were not getting the same degree of relief and subsequently causing you to increase your dose. This would then lead to more readjusting by your brain and body and the cycle would have continued until you made the decision that it was time to get help.
At this point, a detoxification is needed and the supply of chemicals to the body is abruptly stopped. As you might imagine, the body then goes into overdrive as it has to try to get back to some form of normality. As it tries to return to a normal baseline, it will, as mentioned above, either speed up or slow down various functions. It is this that causes the emergence of various withdrawal symptoms such as sweating, tremors, headaches, nausea, and mood swings.
Everyone experiences detox differently and there is no way to tell exactly how you are going to feel during the process. There is also no way to tell what type of symptoms you will experience or how severe these might be until the process actually begins.
Some people will only experience a couple of mild symptoms, but others will be affected by a whole range of symptoms that can be mild, moderate, or severe in how intense they are. The good news is that in a dedicated detox facility, symptoms can be effectively managed. With the right medication and other interventions, it might be possible to prevent many symptoms from occurring or to reduce the severity of those that do occur.
Treatment does not end when detoxification does though, and this is very important. You need to be aware that overcoming addiction is a two-step process. The physical and psychological addictions must be dealt with separately; detox tackles the physical and rehab addresses the psychological.
It is actually quite common to assume that you do not need any further treatment once a detox programme has ended, but those who do not follow on with rehab usually have a higher likelihood of suffering a relapse at a later date.
Knowing what to expect from rehab will depend on the type of programme that you choose. Rehab programmes for addiction take place in daycare or residential facilities and each is quite different in terms of how they are run.
If you choose a residential programme, for example, you are likely to have your treatment in a private clinic where you will stay for the entire length of the programme. You will move from your home to the clinic and will live with other recovering addicts until your programme concludes.
Your days will be filled with various therapies designed to help you overcome your addiction. You might have individual and group therapy sessions that focus on helping you change your behaviour. You will take part in seminars and workshops designed to help you understand your illness in greater detail, helping you to develop new, healthier strategies that you can implement into everyday life when your programme ends. These skills are all designed to help with relapse prevention.
Inpatient programmes are condensed over a few weeks to provide the fastest and most intensive approach to recovery. Programmes usually run for between four and 12 weeks, depending on how complex your requirements are and how you are responding to the programme.
While outpatient programmes are designed to help you reach the same end goal as inpatient programmes, the way in which they are run is completely different. For example, outpatient programmes are nowhere near as intensive as inpatient programmes are. Therefore, they take place over a much longer period and, as you do not stay in the clinic, you will attend far fewer treatment sessions each week.
That being said, outpatient programmes often use the same types of treatment as their inpatient counterparts. You can expect to have one-to-one counselling sessions with a counsellor or therapist regularly, but you may also take part in group therapy sessions at other times. What is different with an outpatient programme is that you will still have to go about daily life and deal with work and family issues as always. Nevertheless, many people believe that this is one of the outpatient programme’s greatest advantages; it allows you to recover in the real world and makes it easier for you to cope when your programme finishes.
If you need help for an addiction, you have come to the right place. As treatment programmes are provided by a range of organisations, such as the NHS, charities, and private clinics, it can be hard to know which one is right for you.
With the help of EATA though, you can eventually access a programme that will suit your individual needs and circumstances. We will work with you to figure out how severe your addiction is and then offer recommendations on the type of programme that you could benefit from. If you would like assistance in accessing a particular programme, we can take care of this too.