Addiction Treatment Programs
A 23 year-old man has been drinking and using marijuana daily for at least five years. He just found out that he isn’t going to be drafted by major league baseball so his dreams of one day playing professional baseball are dead. His parents are both alcoholic, they are divorced and spend most of their time angry at the world and at him. What type of addiction treatment program will help him to put his life on track?
A woman with three kids had knee surgery and was given pain pills to recover. She starting taking more than she was prescribed and soon found that she liked taking them every day. She had a friend who started getting pills for her but soon couldn’t afford everything she “needed.” She started doing things she thought she would never do, such as stealing money at her job and using heroin instead. She knew she need help but what addiction treatment program would work best for her?
Each person and story is unique
Choosing the best addiction treatment program for any person can be challenging. Addiction is a disease of the brain, and everyone is different. We are all unique and because of that, how the drugs act in our brain is different. One person can use drugs for a long time and never become addicted, while another has one experience and immediately gets into trouble. Just like treatment programs for other mental health diseases, what works for each person is more of trail and error and not necessarily a clear cut formula for what to do.
The old adage “if first you don’t succeed try, try again” certainly applies to addiction. Getting the addict to admit they need treatment is a critical first step. Getting them into the right addiction treatment program is also critical. Remember, relapse is part of the disease, so when the addict relapses, don’t condemn them, no matter how frustrated you are. Get them back into treatment ASAP and encourage them to get back on the wagon and to keep moving forward. Eventually, if they stick with it, treatment WILL work.
Factors to consider when selecting addiction treatment programs
There are as many factors to consider in addiction treatment as there are people being treated for addiction. There is no cure for addiction and no magic pill or treatment to stop the addict from wanting to use.
Below is a list of factors you may want to consider as you choose a program. This list is certainly not exhaustive but it is a good place to start as you decide on your best course of action. Remember addiction is a disease of the brain for which there is NO CURE; left untreated addiction’s usual outcome is death.
1. Inpatient or outpatient for addiction treatment programs
There are a board range of options in this decision. Many addicts choose a combination of inpatient and outpatient programs. The start the process with a medically supervised detoxification, which can take as little as four days or as much as two weeks, often in a hospital setting. After that they transfer to an inpatient treatment program or begin a n outpatient program that should be quite intensive for the best results.
Inpatient programs have a much higher success rate because the addict is much less likely to drop out and start using again. Intensive outpatient programs can work, but ONLY if the addict is completely committed to the process.
Often addicts start with a daily group program and escalate to full inpatient programs if relapse keeps occurring. But there is no set pattern, sometimes addicts begin with a full inpatient and then switch to group outpatient with more success. Trail and error is necessary because until the addict tries the program no one can predict a successful outcome.
2. Local or Out of State addiction treatment programs
There is much debate in the addiction recovery community whether an addict is better off going to a local or out of state program. Much of the answer to this question depends on the addict themselves.
An addict who is in their early 30’s, has been opiate addicted since their early teens and has relapsed multiple times probably needs an out of state program if possible. On the other hand an addict who desperately wants to quit and has been addicted less than five years is probably a better candidate for a local program.
Often the work status of the addict also plays into the decision, an addict who has been able to maintain good steady employment may choose a local program, which enables them to continue to work.
3. 12-Step or non-12-step for addiction treatment programs
There are few things true in addiction treatment, but one thing is clear, the 12-step process works and must be an ESSENCIAL part of any effective addiction treatment program. The research is and it shows that the 12-steps programs not only work but they actually CHANGE brain chemistry and help the addict get the control back in their lives.
We are all body mind and spirit and often addiction starts in the body moves to the mind and ends up in the soul. By getting in touch with their higher power an addict actually gets back in touch with themselves. Often addictions strip a person of their soul and their dignity. The program works if you work it, and the 12 steps help addicts regain their true identity, no matter how bad their addiction was. People do recover, no matter how many bad things they did as a result of their disease, or how many years they struggled.
It’s recommended that all addicts and their families participate in a good 12-step program to get back on healthy spiritual footing.
4. Faith based or secular addiction treatment programs
There are many faith-based programs available in the United States. Teen Challenge, Celebrate Recovery and the Salvation Army Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation program are ALL excellent choices.
Faith-based programs can be more successful because they allow the addict time and resources to address some of the underlying causes of their addiction. They also support the addict having a spiritual transformation allowing them to move into a new world not based on their past. But understand that the important goal is for the addict to get into recovery and regain his/her life. Therefore, whether secular or spiritual, the program that helps get them back on their feet is what is needed.
5. Drug supported or Drug free addiction treatment programs
Often people struggle with deciding whether they should use drugs to treat at drug addiction. Are they simply replacing one addiction with another or are the drugs going to truly help them to stay clean and sober?
Depending on the addiction drugs can be useful for treating particularly an opiate addiction. Suboxone and Subutex are a new set of opiate drugs that have been helpful in weaning addicts off of OxyContin and heroin. They need to be managed by a doctor and not self-medicated but they have been shown to allow the opiate addict time to transition without many of the very negative side effects of withdrawal.
It is common for addicts who go to a Suboxone treatment program to continue their daily routine while they are detoxing from heroin. But because Suboxone is an opiate if the addict is not very careful they will end up addicted to Suboxone, making the treatment as bad as the disease.
Although drugs can be helpful to help an addict to stay sober they are not a magic bullet. Drug free programs can be very beneficial and should certainly be considered.
6. Paid or Free addiction treatment programs
There are two schools of thought about this issue. One says that no one will value something they don’t pay for and the paid programs are the only way to get the addict to take the program SERIOUSLY.
Another school of thought says that treatment centers are money making organizations and don’t really care about anything else.
Again each person is unique and so is their addiction. The best course of action may be to try a free program first and if it’s unsuccessful then move to a paid program. Most people will go in to treatment multiple times before actually stopping their addiction so trail-and-error is the only approach we have right now.
Recovery Programs are a Long-Term process
Finally, addiction recovery is a long-term proposition. Most people took years to become addicted and will take years of work to stop being addicted. Generally if a person has been clearly “in-recovery” for more than 12 months they are likely to be able to maintain it. They still can relapse but they’re likely to get back into recovery quickly on their own and understand that they need to keep fighting the fight.
People think of treatment as being the most important aspect of a person kicking the habit of addiction, but recovery is essential. People have to rebuild their lives and that first year or so after treatment is such an important time in the life of an addict. They need the support of family and friends, and their most important goal is to not use anymore. That usually includes not using themselves and being candid with the addict if they see any issues that need to be addressed.
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and Finally Remember:
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."
- Matthew 7:7-8
Dan, Ned and Debbie continue their discussion of the 12 steps reviewing what it takes to get everything out of this important treatment progam, this week on Recovery Now!