Professional addiction treatment is the most effective way to address a substance abuse problem. A customized plan is designed for each patient, but potential services include supervised detox, integrated mental health treatment, motivational interviewing (MI), behavioral therapies, addiction education and improved life skills for coping with anger, stress and other substance-craving triggers.
Treatment can take place in a full-time residential center or in part-time outpatient facilities depending on the individual’s needs. Rehab centers help patients address what initiated the substance use, issues that motivated abuse and cues that might lead to a relapse. Addiction represents changes in neural transmissions that drive obsessive thoughts and behaviors, and rehab empowers patients to begin the healing process and avoid high-risk situations. Just as the addiction took time to develop, the healing process also requires time and sustained effort. Treatment sets the stage for recovery, but the next step is developing an aftercare support network.
Addiction Recovery Support
Following primary treatment, recovering addicts need to set goals, address fears, prioritize health and remain honest and realistic. Regularly achieving small or short-term goals can improve confidence and self-efficacy and positive activities like a recovery blog, physical fitness and expressive arts can all reap positive outcomes. In some cases, recovering addicts may need to transition into sober residential housing for a more secure setting. Different people will have specific aftercare needs, but building a support network and utilizing recovery resources are vital steps for anyone coming out of rehab.
In 2012 the Journal of Groups in Addiction & Recovery stated that the basis for addiction recovery support over the past 150 years involved three main mechanisms, which are as follows:
- Family, kinship and social circles
- Peer-based mutual-aid groups
- Professional addiction treatment
Each of these mechanisms can play an important role in the success of recovery. Rehab centers usually discuss these resources during treatment and help patients develop a recovery plan, but the following is a snapshot of what these mechanisms may entail.
The Role of Friends and Family in Recovery
The Addiction journal in 2006 looked at several factors involved in addiction remission and relapse rates, and supportive relationships were identified as playing a major role in sustained abstinence. In regard to utilizing family and friends, recovering addicts need to consider several steps including the following:
- Make sure everyone has an accurate understanding of addiction.
- Inform loved ones of memory-related craving triggers identified in treatment.
- Address any enabling behavior that might allow a relapse to occur more easily.
- Utilize counseling and other resources to restore a healthy family balance.
- Establish a family commitment to open, honest and non-combative communication.
- Recruit the aid of loved ones in pursuing healthy new hobbies and activities.
- Get help for individual family members whom the addiction impacted more deeply.
A study by the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment in 1991 found that supportive co-workers also played a major role in fostering lasting recoveries. In particular, recovering alcoholics benefited from co-workers who were willing to refrain from drinking in their presence. One hopes that co-workers would willingly provide such support, but if they do not, a change in employment may need to be considered.
Addiction Recovery Support Groups
The Journal of Studies on Alcohol published a study in 1995 that found recovering alcoholics had higher abstinence rates if they participated in AA after formal treatment. AA is just one of many support options, and these recovery groups can help in numerous ways including the following:
- Offer a designed course of addiction shared by other recovering addicts.
- Provide opportunities to connect with a recovery sponsor and partners.
- Give individuals an outlet to share their experiences with people who can relate.
- Sharing feelings with recovery partners may be easier than sharing with other friends.
- Bigger support networks usually mean more extensive accountability and assistance.
Family members often endure the worst aspects of addiction, and during the early stages of recovery, there may be issues and tensions that still need to be worked through and resolved. In such cases, peer-based aid groups can be an invaluable resource for providing support during stress, setbacks and struggles.
Ongoing Addiction Treatment
Like hypertension, asthma, diabetes and other chronic conditions, addiction is a relapsing disease in which symptoms can reemerge even after extended abstinence. Once primary treatment is completed, ongoing therapies may be recommended for certain situations including the following:
- Co-occurring mental health and personality disorders that require further care
- Family issues like dysfunction, trauma, and enabling that need to be addressed
- The reemergence of symptoms such as obsessive thoughts of substance use
- A major relapse resulting in compulsive substance-using behavior
If a relapse does occur, recovering addicts must not conceal it. They should speak with their recovery sponsor, doctor or therapist immediately and devise a recovery plan, which may or may not include additional treatment. Furthermore, it is important to recognize what factors contributed to the relapse in order to avoid or neutralize them in the future.
Addiction Help Center
Our admissions coordinators can help 24 hours a day by answering questions, providing information and making recommendations. We can assist with rehab centers, recovery resources and local support services, and if treatment is necessary, we can check health insurance plans for benefits. Please call our toll-free helpline now for any addiction or mental health needs.