The Process of Recovery from Addiction

The path to getting sober and drug-free is never exactly the same for any two people. However, anyone looking to find out more about rehab and recovery – either for themselves or their loved ones – will recognize some common steps, particularly when it comes to inpatient residential treatment programs. These steps are usually similar whether you’re looking for private alcoholism treatment or a drug addiction recovery center.

To start with, getting sober and drug-free requires the desire and determination to get clean, and having both of these is crucial. If you’re looking for help for a loved one or a friend, know that they’ll need to be “on board” with the idea of recovery if they are going to have a solid chance of getting clean. If they have not yet recognized their own problem, an addiction intervention may be necessary. During the beginning phases of recovery, an alcohol and drug detox is always necessary to remove any unwanted chemicals from the body, followed by intensive addiction recovery therapy. The latter may take 28-90 days (sometimes more), but completing the program provides all the tools needed to stay substance-free. It is highly beneficial for those leaving rehab to join a recovery support group and even consider spending time in a recovery home.

What a person learns during rehab and any extended recovery program is how to steer clear of drugs and alcohol through relapse prevention, and developing positive, healthy methods of coping to continue living a happy, drug-free life.

The First Step

The first step in a substance treatment program is often detoxification (“detox”), the process of allowing the body to get rid of the substance under supervised care. For some drugs, this may require a gradual reduction in the amount of drug taken (also known as a taper schedule). It is important to note that detoxificaton by itself is not treatment, and must be followed by behavioral therapy and/or medications.

Recovery Programs and Support Groups

For every addiction, there are recovery programs and support groups to help those looking to kick their habits. Generally speaking, these programs can be grouped into one of two big buckets: those following a 12-step approach, and those that do not. Which you choose will be a matter of personal preference and – to some – whether you believe in a higher power, which 12-step programs typically promote. Either way, these resources can help you stay happy, healthy and social after your course of recovery from drug addiction or alcoholism treatment.

Behavioral Therapies Can Help

Behavioral therapies can make treatment medications more effective and can help people stay in treatment longer and avoid relapse. Behavioral therapies help people learn how to change the way they think and cope with cravings and other “triggers” that may prompt them to relapse. Returning to a place or seeing a person associated with former drug abuse can bring about strong cravings for a drug without the person even being aware of it. Stress is also a frequent trigger of relapse.

Types of Behavioral Treatments

There are four main types of behavioral treatments.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy seeks to help people recognize, avoid, and cope with situations in which they are most likely to abuse substances.
  • Motivational incentives offer rewards or privileges for attending counseling sessions, taking treatment medications, and not abusing substances.
  • Motivational interviewing is typically conducted by a treatment counselor and occurs when a person first enters a drug treatment program. It aims to get people to recognize their need for treatment so they can take an active role in their recovery.
  • Group therapy, preferably with one’s own age group, (and sometimes one’s gender), helps people face their substance abuse problems and the harm it causes. It teaches ways to solve personal problems without abusing medications or drugs.
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