According to the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence, 1 in 12 Americans aged 12 and over suffer from alcohol addiction or dependence. In addition, twenty per cent of Americans 12 and over use drugs for non-medical reasons. Those figures paint a grim picture for our country’s future; the age group with the most addiction is young people between 18 and the late 20s. So, how long does it take to treat the addictions in a drug rehab environment?
First, we must understand that addiction is a disease that affects the areas of the brain that control feelings of reward and motivation. It also interferes with the brain’s memory and learning centers and with the areas of the brain that control behavior. All of these deficits cause other problems. Lack of self-control, for instance, can bring on legal issues. Without motivation or adequate reward sensations, there is no incentive to go to work, and so addicts are susceptible to homelessness. Addiction weakens the body as well, and often co-exists with other physical illnesses like liver and heart problems.
Besides the physical and psychological issues raised by addiction, there are social complications. Addicts are willing to forgo pleasure and sabotage relationships to obtain their drugs of choice. Incidents of child neglect and abuse are higher in addict families. In addition, families left without a provider when an addict is unable to work or is incarcerated often wind up in the public welfare system.
According to the Mayo Clinic, drug rehab treatment time varies according to the intensity of the drug or alcohol addiction. Some drug rehab programs, which simply detox, can take only 7 to 14 days. Most authorities on addiction, however, believe that successful programs will take between 60 and 90 days. Some may last as long as 18 months. Drug rehab programs that only strip the substance from the body without addressing all the co-existing issues will have little hope of bringing about lasting sobriety. The Center for Disease Control has said that the length of a program is one of the primary indicators of its success.
The first step in substance abuse treatment is admission and assessment. At this time, the program operators will do several things.
After compiling the results, the administrators will be better able to gauge the probable length of the program.
Detoxification often takes several days to two weeks. The length of time it takes to detox an addict can affect the length of treatment time. In addition, withdrawal can affect detoxification. Withdrawal is the effect sudden abstinence from the substance has on the body, and it can be anything from a mild nervousness and tremor to severe stomach cramps and delirium.
Counseling is imperative for an addict to stay sober. Successful drug rehab programs focus on the issues surrounding the addiction and not just the addiction itself. If the substance abuser still has a family, it is important to include them in the treatment plan. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is often used to help the addict understand why he turned to substance abuse to cope with life stresses. The rehab facility will attempt to give the addict resources to help him cope with stress in positive ways.
A sober addict is still an addict. He can learn to control behaviors, but because addiction is a disease, there will probably be relapses. Programs that succeed teach their graduates to expect, and to overcome these lapses. These backward steps may necessitate repeat inpatient treatment, or they may be treated through outpatient counseling. They are still an integral part of the treatment program.
There must be attendance to the problems that the addiction has caused in the addict’s life. Before the graduate returns to the community, there should be effort made to secure employment and medical treatment for physical ailments the addiction may have caused or exacerbated. Legal problems need to be investigated to determine what the addict must do to comply with court orders. The family may need counseling to deal with fear and trust issues, and the addict himself will need a source of support. Setting all these interventions in place takes time, and adds to the length of drug rehab treatment.
Self-treatment is a dangerous option. One definition of a substance addict is someone who has no control over the use of substances in his life. No control means that he is incapable of saying no to the drug. It also means that he has no control over the effects the drug has. Relationship issues continue to snowball, as do legal problems and physical malaise. Going to an inpatient treatment facility may seem like a desperate measure, but it is the only reliable means to treat an addiction.
Inpatient treatment provides a secure environment where the addict can address his addiction issues free from the stresses that led him into the problem. The facility is a place where there are other recovering addicts dealing with the same complications of life and so, are supportive of one another. In addition, the inpatient facility works on improving the addict’s diet and teaching principles of wellness.
An examination of available statistics shows startlingly different results. One figure says 40% to 60% of recovering addicts who received treatment were still sober a year after leaving treatment. In short, drug rehab facilities work if their programs are long enough to address the multiple issues addictions raise. How long is that? Some programs may graduate a recovering addict after a couple of months. Other facilities take into account that follow-up may be necessary to counter relapses. The best answer is that it takes enough time to ensure the addict has skills and resources to cope with his individual stressors. That may take significantly longer than the shorter programs. Rehab facilities that are the most successful are tailored to the addict.
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