Since researchers and medical personnel continue to seek long-term drug rehabilitation solutions, managing the illness may seem to be elusive. This is not the case. Seeking to improve a process does not negate the current success of that process.
Breaking the Habit is Difficult
Breaking a drug habit is not easy. The path to drug abuse typically begins with a voluntary decision. However, time progresses and if the abuse continues the inhibitory controls within the user’s brain lose the ability to rightly relate reward to motivation. Drug users become drug abusers and in no long time, the addiction affects a multitude of brain circuits, including those that enable behavioral control mechanisms.
Substance dependency begins to override the user’s capacity to manage the compulsive compromises associated with the illness. Rational thought deteriorates beneath the onslaught of intense and uncontrollable drug cravings. The disease spreads and soon even the user’s learning and memory functions are affected.
All is Not Without Hope
Through the appropriate treatment programs, many drug abusers now live a healthy, drug-free and self-appreciative life. The treatment approaches to drug addiction are many. The opportunity for healing is accessible and achievable. This article focuses on the principles, the process and the effectiveness of long-term drug rehabilitation programs.
Principles of Long-term Drug Treatment Programs
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, scientific research, dating back to the mid-70s, provides irrevocable evidence concerning the success of properly applied long-term drug treatment programs. The accumulated daily disruptions and the complex makeup of each individual user can make treatment difficult but not impossible. Many patients have learned to stop using drugs, avoid relapse and recover a fruitful and rewarding lifestyle.
Effective treatment programs must incorporate a mixture of healing components. The general focus of the treatment addresses specific characteristics of the illness and the associated consequences of that aspect. Teaching a user how to eliminate drugs from his or her life is not sufficient. The recovering abuser also needs to relearn the fundamental skills for productive reentry into family society and work. The chronic nature of the disease demands a cure that provides long-term and lasting solutions.
Stages of Substance Abuse Treatment Include:
• Medically assisted detoxification
The process incorporates both inpatient and outpatient treatment. Outpatient clinics focus on short-term drug abuse programs. Inpatient clinics focus on long-term alcohol or drug rehabilitation.
Often identified as residential treatment centers, long-term drug rehabilitation centers apply the following mode of operation:
• Initial Detoxification and Monitoring – Typically begins with a physical exam. Includes monitoring of the patient’s vital signs. May involve administration of intravenous fluid cocktails.
• Residential Rehabilitation – Typical lasts 90 to 120 days, but some programs involve lengthy stays that range from 6 to 12 months. Includes 24-hour patient care in a non-hospital setting. Uses a community-focused background to promote structured recovery processes.
• Outpatient Treatment – Although not the technical equivalent of long-term drug rehabilitation in the sense of residential care, outpatient treatment provides a less strict, less intense and less expensive method of long-term care. It can involve intensive day treatment and other comparable residential care services, and it may be a concluding component of long-term care.
How Long Is Sufficient For Healing
When considering long-term drug treatment programs, a pertinent and reasonable question arises: How long is long enough?
The US National Institute on Drug Abuse now recommends a highly structured treatment program that includes 6 to twelve in duration. Since the personal circumstances surrounding each case and each abuser are different, only the abuser, a qualified medical professional and, if possible, the abusers family can determine what works best for the given situation.
Long-term rehab is typically recommended for dually diagnosed offenders, including alcohol or drug-dependent users who experience the complications of mental illnesses or psychological disorders. The process also works well for adolescent abusers of alcohol or drugs.
One primary truth endures: Long-term drug rehabilitation works. In a recent study by John Robert Burgess from Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, the accumulated data clearly identifies a positive correlation between the length of time spent in treatment and the continued abstinence from drugs and/or alcohol.
The Process of Long-Term Drug Rehabilitation – A Close-up View
Long-term rehab begins with freedom. No cure can be effective until the abuser breaks free of the offending drug. This is the primary process of short-term inpatient rehabilitation. However, some users have a very difficult time recovering even after the short-term process is completed. Long-term therapeutic communities (TCs) bind the components of short-term inpatient treatment to the success features of long-term treatment. Some of therapeutic communities are even designed for special patients such as pregnant women or women who already have children, the mentally ill and other unique groups of people. In any event, the detoxification must take a priority.
Step 1: Initial Inpatient Detoxification and Monitoring
It begins with a physical exam. The patient agrees to short-term and long-term monitoring of his or her vital signs, including blood pressure and heart readings. In the event of severe dehydration due to withdrawal symptoms such as profuse sweating and vomiting, the patient may receive intravenous fluid cocktails. This mixture typically includes electrolytes, minerals and vitamins.
The effects of Stage 3 drug withdrawal demand inpatient detox. A medical staff must be on hand at all times. Full-time monitoring is crucial to ending the habit. Quiet rooms are used to lessen the impact of external irritations.
Some patients may also be introduced to assistant drugs such as acamprosate, naltrexone or disulfiram. Detox is a difficult process. Patient’s need not expect a sugarcoated relief system. The drugs function as follows:
• Acamprosate reduces the anxiety, depression and insomnia to so often accompany drug withdrawal.
• Naltrexone lessens the craving for alcohol. By blocking the patient’s opioid receptors, naltrexone reduces the associated sense of reward induced by drinking.
• Benzodiazepine class drugs may also be used to lessen the anxiety and stress associated with alcohol withdrawal.
The typical inpatient detox process runs from five to 14 days.
Modeled in the form of a therapeutic community (TC), the primary stage of long-term rehabilitation uses a social approach to help the residents of the program reenter a fruitful and fulfilling lifestyle. The process typically involves learning interaction skills via contact with the clinic staff, other clinic residents and visiting family members.
The patient must work to overcome the social and psychological deficits induced by the drugs and by the personality that initially chose to use the drugs. Residents develop a new sense of personal accountability and responsibility. At times, the treatment can become extremely confrontational. The activities are structured to induce personal reflection of the behavioral patterns typically associated with drug abuse. Residents learn to examine the life-concepts that have shaped a destructive lifestyle.
Points of concern involve:
• Destructive behavior patterns
• Self-concepts of personal value and worth
• Self-damaging personal beliefs
• How to make the changes that will lead to a more constructive and harmonious way of living
• AND more.
Many TC centers include comprehensive services such as onsite employment training, motivational interviewing and multidimensional family therapy. TC centers are designed for versatility that enables each center to focus on the special needs of a core group such as adolescents, the homeless, those who suffer severe mental disorders, and even the individuals who have fallen into the criminal justice system.
CBT and MDFT Therapy Explained
Processes such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) help residents modify faulty perceptions concerning drug abuse. Multidimensional family therapy (MDFT) is typically geared toward adolescents and the battles associated with family concerns, peer pressure and relationships, education issues and the possibility of parental substance abuse. Motivation processes focus on encouraging the residents to remain strong via continued abstinence from the offending drug and via continued treatment processes. The process typically includes a system that associates low-cost incentives with the exchange of drug-free urine samples.
Outdoor activities often include sports and skills training as well as out-of-the-town trips. Luxury indoor activities typically include massage treatments, spa sessions and tai chi training. Many private drug rehabilitation facilities also offer:
• Art and musical facilities
• Anger management classes
• Gender-specific features
• Trauma workshop sessions
• AND more.
Many long-term rehab residential centers are located in favorable vacation-style settings, including beachside facilities. The concept accepts the therapeutic healing capacity of a relaxing atmosphere. Recovering patients are typically enabled to attend additional individual psychological counseling and other therapy activities long after the initial long-term rehab program has been completed.
Avoiding the Alternative
There are other methods of treating drug abuse. Sometimes the user comes into contact with the US criminal justice system. This is a difficult method for finding freedom, yet research has proven that a combination of criminal sanctions and drug treatment can effectively reduce drug abuse and the associated criminal offenses.
Yet such harsh solutions can be avoided. There is no shame in taking care of self first. Chronic drug abusers can be healed via self-enrollment within a long-term drug rehabilitation program. Don’t hesitate. Act now.