Substance Abuse Treatment — Everything You Need to Know

November 8, 2021

An addict or alcoholic who wants to get sober has the best chance of doing so by entering substance abuse treatment. Substance abuse disorder is a disease that affects the mind, body, and spirit. It’s a real disease that needs a real solution.

Substance abuse disorder is probably one of the only diseases that tells a person they don’t have it. If someone you know had a terminal illness you would feel sorry for them and want to be there to comfort them.

Many just interpret substance abuse disorder as bad behavior. Nonetheless, a person suffering from this disease is very ill indeed.

There is a difference in the reaction of the patient to their diagnosis though. A person with cancer will more than likely ask their doctor what to do and begin getting treatment as fast as they could.

If you tell a drug addict you have a solution for their problem, they may not be very receptive to the idea.

The point is that most alcoholics and drug addicts don’t think they have a problem. Most of them will not attempt to go to substance abuse treatment until their life is in shambles. Once the consequences and the pain get severe, an addict might throw up the white flag.

However, overcoming substance abuse disorder won’t happen overnight, and most people can’t recover alone. 

That’s where substance abuse treatment programs come into play. Detox and rehab are usually the first stop for an addict who's trying to get and stay sober. In this article, you’ll learn what to expect from a detox facility as well as an inpatient substance abuse rehab. 

If addiction is having a negative impact on you or somebody you know, then you need to keep reading.

Why Going to a Substance Abuse Treatment Program is Important

The disease of addiction is both chronic and progressive. That means an addict gets worse over any considerable amount of time.

No one says to themselves as a child, “I want to be addicted to meth when I grow up.” However, addicts get to the point where they want to stop using and find that they can’t on their own. 

Realizing that your addiction has become completely out of control can be overwhelming and quite scary. The idea of voluntarily going inpatient in substance abuse treatment can be just as scary, if not more so.

When you are admitted into a facility, depending on the drugs you’re addicted to, the first thing that you’re likely to go through is a medically assisted detox. Detoxing from some substances is more dangerous than others.

Let’s say you’re addicted to opiates, and you abruptly stop. You may have physical symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea. Mentally, you will go through hell, and jumping out of a window may start to become appealing.

As bad as detoxing from opiates is, it won’t actually kill you. 

Other drugs like alcohol and Xanax have extremely dangerous detoxes that you can actually die from. High blood pressure and seizures are very common for people detoxing from these substances.

It’s dangerous to try to kick your habit while on your couch at home. One of the more appealing aspects of going to substance abuse treatment programs is that you will usually get detox medication to make detoxing a bit more comfortable.

Some of the most common detox medications include Suboxone, Clonidine, Librium, and Ativan. Since coming off of benzodiazepines is so dangerous, a patient may taper off them slowly, getting a little bit less each day.

Going to a substance abuse treatment program is extremely important because it gives you time to get physically separated from your drug(s) of choice. 

What to Expect After Detox in a Substance Abuse Treatment Program

Sometimes, a detox facility (usually 5 to 10 days) is separate from substance abuse treatment (usually 30 to 90 days). Currently, it’s pretty common for substance abuse treatment centers to offer a medically assisted detox at their facility.

When you're through the detox process, you’re probably able to keep your meals down and sleep better. Now you’re ready to start your road to recovery, which means throwing yourself into the programming offered at the facility.

Here’s what you can expect from a substance abuse treatment program.

Assessment and Individualized Treatment Plan

You are usually given a primary counselor who works with you intensively throughout your stay. Your counselor is a part of a medical team that will also be working to find ways of helping that are unique to your needs.

If you have severe childhood trauma, you may do exercises such as envisioning yourself as a child sitting in a chair across from you. You can then talk to that child and comfort them and let them know they are safe now.

You are able to see that your wounded inner child has been influencing your thoughts and actions for a long time. 

Your counselor may also ask you to write a letter to a loved one who was negatively affected by your addiction, telling them how much you regret your past actions.

Many times, counselors will tell you not to actually send the letter at all. It’s more of an exercise to bring your guilt and shame to the surface so you can forgive yourself.

Writing a goodbye letter to your drug(s) of choice is also a common exercise.

Many counselors at substance abuse treatment centers utilize cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

CBT addresses your thoughts, feelings, actions, and behavior. Perception is everything, and many addicts have a warped perception that has made it difficult for them to cope with the struggles of everyday life.

Cognitive distortions, such as black and white thinking or discounting the positive, are self-sabotaging ways of thinking that can keep people (including addicts) from making a positive change in their life.

Learning how to deal with your emotions along with challenging your negative thoughts paves the way for a complete change in attitude and perception. 

Lectures on Chemical Dependency

Different drugs can affect people in different ways. Lectures on chemical dependency are an integral part of substance abuse treatment programs. You can get an idea of the physical damage that’s been done to your body as a result of using.

Crystal meth is a stimulant which can keep a person up for days which can be extremely hard on the body. Crystal meth users usually aren’t eating very much.

The opposite may happen when first getting sober. You may find that you are sleeping a lot and overeating.

Chemical dependency lectures can also give you an idea how much your body (including your brain) is likely to heal after you stop using drugs.

Group Therapy

Group therapy is an integral part of addiction treatment programs. Sometimes, it is led by your individual counselor and other patients on his/her caseload.

This is a time where you can talk about your feelings that have probably been stuffed inside of you for a long time. One of the best aspects of group therapy is that you can get constructive feedback from your counselor and your fellow patients. 

Developing relationships with other sober addicts is vital for any addict who wants to stay sober, However, it can be tough to introduce yourself at meetings, especially if you’re very shy by nature.

Group therapy allows you to create strong bonds with people who are going through the same thing as you.

Individual assignments given by your counselor and/or the clinical team can also be shared in group therapy.

24/7 Nursing Supervision

While inpatient, you will always be supervised by the nursing staff. Scheduled medication is given at set times throughout the day, but you can also get any medication you have prescribed “as needed.”

If you get injured or have a seizure, the nursing staff will be there to take immediate action. They can call 911 or set up an ambulance trip to the hospital.

Nurses may also give lectures. Nurses are the eyes and ears of substance abuse treatment facilities. They are there to intervene when there are potentially harmful situations.

Sometimes fights among patients breakout, and the nurses will be there to de-escalate them. Sometimes, patients will try to sneak drugs into the facility. A nurse can do random drug screenings as well as conduct room searches at any time.

They are also there to give moral support. Many times, nurses at substance abuse treatment facilities are in recovery themselves.

Recreational Therapy

Substance abuse treatment programs also stress the importance of having fun in sobriety. It’s so easy to get overly serious and rigid about your recovery.

Well-rounded addiction programs will include recreational therapy as a part of weekly programming. That means it’s not just free-time — it’s just as important as individual counseling and lectures.

Addiction isolates addicts. When you’re abusing drugs, family members and friends start falling to the wayside. Recovery is about mending relationships and creating healthy new ones.

So many addicts believe that there is no way they will ever have fun without drinking or using. Recreational therapy gives you an opportunity to learn that sobriety can be fun!

Playing cards, volleyball, painting, and dominos are among the different kinds of activities that take place during recreational therapy offered by addiction treatment programs.

12 Step Meetings/SMART Recovery

12-step fellowships such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and Cocaine Anonymous offer a program that can help addicts achieve long-term sobriety and lead happy, healthy, and meaningful lives.

Many times, these fellowships will bring 12-step meetings into substance abuse treatment facilities. As a patient, you’ll get an idea of what these programs are all about. You can ask questions and meet addicts in recovery who are enjoying their sobriety.

They spread a message of hope and are very eager to help you if you want them to. 12-step fellowships are all about addicts helping each other to sustain their recovery.

When a group comes in, usually people who are able to sponsor will be present. At that point, you can get a sponsor and start working the 12 steps.

These fellowships can provide a safe place for you to go when you get out of treatment. You will already have a built-in support system and many new friends waiting to meet you.

SMART Recovery is one of the other popular methods for getting and keeping people sober. They utilize CBT techniques to help you retrain your mind and deal with cravings. Practical coping skills are taught so that an addict can better deal with life on life's terms.

Just like 12-step fellowships, they have meetings to attend and a fellowship to be a part of.

Discharge Planning and Life After Inpatient Treatment

Before you leave an inpatient facility, you will come up with a discharge plan with your counselor. The point is that if this plan is adhered to, you have a great chance of staying sober. It can include things such as:

Sober Living

Sober living refers to living in a house with other addicts in recovery. Getting a job and attending meetings regularly are required and random drug screens can be given.

PHP and IOP

Addiction services such as a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) or an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) are common steps down from residential treatment.

PHPs are typically 5 days a week, and the most significant difference between it and inpatient treatment is that you get to go home at the end of the day. IOPs usually meet 3 days a week for a total of 9 hours a week.

Follow-Up Appointments

Follow-up Appointments with your doctor and therapist will also be on your discharge plan with the time and date of your appointments. If you are on any psychiatric medication, it’s very important that you see your doctor regularly to see how well your medication is working.

You may also have a doctor who prescribes you some type of medication that falls under the term Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT). Naltrexone is a medication that falls under this category. It’s an opioid blocker and helps addicts addicted to opiates and/or alcohol.

More controversial types of medication such as Suboxone are also prescribed by a doctor who may keep you on it for an extended period of time.

If you are involved in MAT, you should be under the strict supervision of a doctor.

Take a Leap of Faith

Nothing is easy about breaking the cycle of active drug addiction. It’s a job that can seldom be done by yourself.

Substance abuse treatment gives you a strong start on your journey in recovery. From inpatient to sober living to IOP, the wide array of addiction services are here to help.

IOP at ASIC Recovery

Are you looking for substance abuse treatment in Texas? 

At ASIC Recovery, our Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) is dedicated to helping individuals develop healthier coping skills and build a recovery supportive network in all aspects.

Click to learn more.

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