The Stages of Addiction Treatment: From Outpatient Rehab to Lifelong Commitment
Treating substance abuse is not a one-time affair. No one can wave a magic wand and cure the disease of addiction in one fell swoop. Recovery takes time. It involves many steps and many people, from the intervention of friends and family to the help of outpatient rehab centers like RECO Intensive.
Finally, there is no one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter approach to addiction recovery. Each individual is different, and each person’s journey to sobriety should be as unique as they are. With that in mind, there are some basic steps that nearly all treatment programs have in common. Only by understanding those stages of recovery can you hope to appreciate the amount of time, effort, and willpower it will take to overcome the debilitating effects of addiction and dependency.
The First Step: Intervention
Before someone with addiction or dependency issues can begin the healing process, she must first recognize the need for treatment. Sadly, few people actively seek help. All too often, addicts fail to recognize that they have a problem. Many are blind to the severity of their condition. Some refuse to see it. Others know all too well the debilitating nature of their disease but feel afraid or unable to seek help. In either case, it is up to friends and family to intervene and help them understand the need for treatment.
Starting an Intervention
An intervention occurs when friends, family members, or concerned individuals speak to a loved one about his substance abuse problems. Depending on the people involved and the situation, it can take many forms—a one-on-one talk in a quiet room, a group session at someone’s home, a nature hike, a chat over coffee or tea. An intervention can be formal or informal. It can be done with little planning or after careful deliberation and organization.
Keys to a Successful Intervention
Whatever the surroundings and however the discussion occurs, it is important to keep a few basic ground rules in mind if you want to have a successful intervention.
- Judge the person
- Become confrontational
- Get angry or upset by their reaction
- Forget the purpose of the conversation: to convince them of the need for treatment
- Prepare yourself for every possible reaction
- Express concern for their well-being
- Convey the pain and hurt you’ve suffered as a result of their addiction (focus on expressing your own feelings without blaming or shaming them)
- Explain why professional help is necessary
- Remain loving and caring
When staging an intervention, always remember the goal: to get your loved one the care they need. It’s important to let them know how their addiction has affected you—in many cases, the knowledge that they are hurting those closest to them can be the motivating factor behind a major life change—but try not to get carried away by your own fear and anger, and never let their momentary anger or indifference provoke you. This is primarily about them, and people must go through many different emotions before they arrive at the right conclusion.
Intervention Is a Continuing Journey
Of course, intervention doesn’t end when a person enters an inpatient or outpatient rehab center. Rather, it should be an ongoing process, a continuing journey. Treatment is rarely successful unless the recovering addict knows that they are not alone, and that someone they know and care about is walking the long and arduous path to sobriety alongside them.
The Second Step: Detoxification
As soon as someone decides they need help to conquer their addiction, they begin the formal process of treatment. When it comes to professional treatment options, there are two primary options: inpatient and outpatient substance abuse treatment programs. While inpatient centers require the patient to check into a facility (either a residential facility or a hospital) where they will live full-time for a specified period of time, outpatient programs allow recovering addicts to live at home or in a sober living facility while they undergo treatment.
Managing Withdrawals: When Is Inpatient Treatment Necessary?
Coming off drugs or alcohol is not just difficult and uncomfortable; in some cases, it can be deadly. For individuals who are facing the severe and possibly life-threatening withdrawals that accompany certain substances (e.g., heroin or alcohol), medically supervised treatment is necessary. How much medical supervision is required depends on the substance involved, the severity of the addiction, and the health of the patient, among other factors. The most serious cases should always check into an inpatient facility that provides 24-hour monitoring and round-the-clock medical care.
What Does Inpatient Treatment Involve?
Inpatient care is the most intensive form of substance abuse treatment. It also the most intense step on the journey to sobriety. The main purpose of inpatient treatment is detoxification, although such programs also offer counseling and behavioral support to residents. Surrounded by healthcare professionals who can observe vital signs, dispense medications, and provide emergency medical services, patients can undergo the dangerous step of drug or alcohol withdrawal in a safe environment. For those who suffer from severe addictions and/or poor health, inpatient facilities provide lifesaving care.
When Is Inpatient Treatment Inappropriate?
Inpatient treatment is not for everyone. In addition to people with milder forms of addiction or dependency, there are certain categories of people who would be better off taking advantage of intensive outpatient therapy instead of entering an inpatient facility. Those people include:
- Parents who bear full responsibility for child care – Unfortunately, many parents, particularly single parents who live away from family, are unable find alternative accommodations for their children. Since children come first, inpatient rehab will have to wait until such arrangements can be made.
- Adult children who provide indispensable care to elderly parents – People who take care of elderly relatives are in a similar position to parents. They must worry about their dependents before going into an inpatient center.
- People with financial or insurance difficulties – Inpatient care costs money, and some insurance plans don’t cover it, in all cases. Other people have neither the insurance nor the money to pay for inpatient care out of pocket.
- People without access to inpatient facilities – Most geographic locations have inpatient treatment centers to accommodate those struggling with addiction, but not all do. People who live in relatively remote areas may face greater difficulty in finding a treatment facility. For those who are unable to drive long distances or who need to stay close to family, inpatient treatment may not be the best option.
How Do Intensive Outpatient Programs Manage Detox?
Those who do not need to undergo detoxification at an inpatient facility or have already completed inpatient treatment are able to utilize outpatient treatment services. For the right individual, an intensive outpatient program can provide many benefits, such as more flexible scheduling, less time away from home and family, and more time to handle the responsibilities of life.
However, many people need inpatient treatment before they begin an outpatient program. That’s why some intensive outpatient treatment providers, like RECO Intensive, work closely with inpatient facilities that offer medically supervised detoxification so that patients can get the help they need when they need it.
The Third Step: Behavioral Outpatient Addiction Treatment
The third step along the road to sobriety is counseling or other behavioral therapies. While inpatient centers also provide behavioral treatment to help people cope with the first stages of withdrawal, the vast majority of counseling is done through outpatient drug treatment and alcohol treatment programs.
The Purpose of Outpatient Behavior Therapy
The purpose of outpatient addiction treatment is to help people make the transition to sobriety. Some people with less serious cases of addiction opt for intensive outpatient treatment as an alternative to inpatient treatment. Others may seek help from an outpatient rehab center after they complete their tenure in an inpatient facility and before they segue into a life of unassisted sobriety. In either case, outpatient programs help people heal their bodies, clear their minds, and recover their independence.
Outpatient Therapy Options
All outpatient programs provide some form of behavioral treatment, whether it is counseling, group therapy, substance abuse education programs, or therapeutic initiatives such as cooking classes, yoga, and horse riding. Specifically, treatment providers may offer such programs as:
- Individual Therapy
- Group Therapy
- Family Therapy
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
- Motivational Interviewing
- Positive Reinforcement1
Since each individual is different, the appropriate treatment option varies on a case-by-case basis. In addition, each rehab center offers a slightly different approach to treatment. Matching the right program to the right person is the key to a successful recovery.
The Fourth Step: Lifelong Commitment
Recovery doesn’t end the moment a patient steps out of the rehab center. Overcoming addiction is the work of a lifetime. It takes abiding strength and enduring commitment. A recovering addict must continually renew his promises, reevaluate his choices, reconnect with loved ones, reestablish support networks, and forgive his own shortcomings.
The Need for a Support Network
Having a strong support network is critical to maintaining sobriety and preventing relapse. This consists of friends, family, fellow recovered addicts, counselors, and healthcare providers. It is, after all, the people in these support networks who will work hardest to keep recovering addicts on the right path. Loved ones and care providers are the ones who are able and willing to assist in the lifelong journey to sobriety. Staying close to those who have been instrumental in the recovery process also reduces the risk of rekindling dangerous relationships and habits.
Continued Outpatient Treatment
Outpatient treatment is rarely a one-time event. In many cases, it is a way of life. Rather than seeing it as a burden, recovering addicts should instead view it as an opportunity to stay in touch with people who care and to renew their commitment to a sober lifestyle. By taking advantage of the programs and resources offered by such outpatient rehab centers, individuals can keep their feet firmly on the ground and their addiction firmly under control.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction.” https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/treatment-approaches-drug-addiction