Many misconceptions persist about treatment for addictions. When a person is in need of treatment to overcome an addiction to alcohol or other drugs, it is imperative that these misconceptions be identified, so that the truth about recovery can be realized.
Fact #1 – You Must Admit that You Have a Problem
This statement may seem trite, or something that people often associate with any kind of addiction. Yet, despite the popularity of its use, this statement is 100% accurate. If a person cannot admit that he or she has a problem with drugs or alcohol, he or she will not be able to recover. In order for appropriate treatment to begin, individuals must come to the realization that they do, in fact, have a problem and that they need help putting that problem to rest.
Fact #2 – You Are Not Weak
Addiction is a disease. Once an individual has developed a physical tolerance to and dependency on a substance, it can be extremely difficult to overcome without professional help. This can be a difficult thing for people to accept. Many times, individuals want to think that they can overcome their substance abuse on their own. For some, this might work, but for countless others, it simply does not. Despite having the best of intentions, individuals who attempt to stop using on their own frequently find themselves falling back into the seemingly endless and insidious cycle of ongoing abuse. Asking for help does not mean that you are weak. In fact, it means the exact opposite. It means that you are willing to admit that you are fighting a battle and you can no longer do it alone. There is no shame in that; there is strength.
Fact #3 – Not All Treatment Interventions Work for Everyone
Some people benefit from receiving care in a residential setting. Others find the most benefit from participating in a daily partial hospitalization program. Others still may only require intensive outpatient treatment. Addictions present and affect everyone differently. For this reason, treatment interventions will impact people differently as well. The common denominator amongst everyone, however, is that some form of treatment should be received. When individuals enter a treatment setting, they will work in collaboration with professionals who will devise an individualized treatment that is tailored to meet each individual’s unique needs so that they have the best chance of succeeding in their recovery goals.
Fact #4 – Recovery Does Not Happen Overnight
The road to recovery from an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol can be a long and arduous one, rife with upsets along the way. As everyone responds differently to different types of treatment, their time spent in treatment will also vary. Any number of factors (both positive and negative) can impact an individual’s treatment progress. What is important to remember, however, is that one should not give up. Recovery is achievable, and through hard work, determination, and support, sobriety can be achieved and maintained.
Fact #5 – Family Involvement is Crucial
When a person enters treatment, the support of his or her family, friends, and other loved ones can be an essential factor in eliciting successful recovery. Loved ones of those receiving treatment for addiction can help their friend or family member by being an active part of the therapeutic process. Attending family therapy sessions, joining support groups for family members of people with addictions, and consistently checking up on the person in treatment can make the world of difference in encouraging him or her to continually progress in treatment. It is also imperative that family members congratulate the person in treatment on the successes and milestones that he or she achieves. Even if it is simply going one day without using his or her substance of choice, that should be recognized. Every little bit of encouragement can go a long way in eliciting successful treatment outcomes.
Fact #6 – Treatment Does Not Eliminate Future Temptation
Once individuals have completed treatment, they may feel as though they will be immune to temptations to continue using. Sadly, this is not the case. When an individual has an addiction to any substance, the temptation to use that substance can be a lifelong battle. This is why it is important to seek out support groups or to engage in continuing care options upon the completion of treatment. By having ongoing support and encouragement, relapse can be prevented.
Fact #7 – You Are Not Alone
The nature of drug and alcohol addiction frequently forces individuals to withdraw from their family and friends. It may be out of embarrassment, or it may be simply out of a need to keep the behavior a secret, but regardless of the reason, people battling addictions often find themselves isolated from those around them. When this is the case, the loneliness that results can further perpetuate the cycle of substance abuse. By receiving treatment, however, this sense of isolation can be broken and individuals can come to realize that they are not alone in their struggles. By working with other individuals who have experienced the same types of challenges, they can find encouragement and hope that recovery is possible.
Fact #8 – Help is Available
Whether you have been abusing substances for a long time, or have only recently become ensnared in the dangerous grips of addiction, there is help available. There are countless options for treatment, and there a variety of treatment centers that can provide the care that is essential for achieving true recovery. Do not continue to fight this battle alone. Seek help. Let yourself be freed from the compulsion to continue using drugs or alcohol and rediscover a life that is healthy, happy, and substance-free.
How Long Does it Take?
Addiction rarely occurs overnight, and like the descent into the disease, the journey out of it can take some time.
People naturally want to know how long treatment and recovery will take. They want to know when they can expect to feel better and when they’ll stop craving that drink or that hit so badly.
Frustratingly, concrete answers to questions like these are hard to come by. Every person recovers in their own time, and every person requires something different on what is always a very individual journey.
The only part of recovery that transcends this individual experience is the reality of a lifetime of recovery. No matter who you are, once addicted, addiction recovery is for life.
- Addiction remains an incurable disease. Although treatment can induce remission, recovery lasts a lifetime.
- The National Institute on Drug Addiction (NIDA) does not recommend residential or outpatient programs that last fewer than 90 days, calling programs shorter than this “of limited effectiveness.”
- NIDA recommends staying involved in addiction treatment for “significantly longer” than 90 days as the best way to encourage lasting success.
- NIDA recommends that people taking methadone to help break their addiction stay on the medication for a minimum of 1 year before attempting to taper off.
Longer Is Generally Better
There are no quick fixes to overcoming an addiction, and you should be wary of those treatment methods that promise the impossible. When deciding to get treatment for your addiction, realize that recovery is a lengthy journey. For the best chance of continuing recovery, you will need to invest significant time and effort into your treatment experience.
People who enter a short- or long-term residential addiction treatment program will need to continue their involvement in aftercare outpatient programs to maximize their chances of success. That will provide them continued support and encouragement on their path of recovery.