The nature of addiction is such that relapse is a necessary part of recovery, not an indication of failure itself. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimates that the relapse rates for substance use disorders (SUDs) are between 40 to 60 percent.
Why? Because substance addiction is a chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory, and related circuitry, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). What’s more, addiction will cause people to lose control over their ability to abstain from a substance, use in the face of adverse circumstances, and display compulsive behaviors around a particular substance.
The relapse rate for substance abuse is not unlike those of other chronic conditions such as hypertension and asthma. The rates for those conditions hover between 50 to 70 percent.
Despite the threat of relapse, the ultimate benefit of drug and alcohol rehabilitation is that it can restore your physical, mental, and spiritual health through an array of services and evidence-based treatments.
However, your drug or alcohol treatment success depends on your willingness to realize sustained recovery. Read on to find out how you can maximize your substance abuse treatment experience and what all excellent professional recovery programs have in common.
Do You Have an Addiction?
Typically, before a full-blown addiction occurs, you have to develop a tolerance and dependence to a substance. Tolerance occurs when the body is no longer responsive to a drug, and a higher dose is needed to achieve the same effect, according to NIDA.
Dependence is established when you need a drug in your system to feel normal. Once the substance cycles out of your body, you start to experience withdrawal symptoms.
Dependence graduates to addiction when you display compulsive drug-seeking behaviors around your substance of choice. It also means that you will seek out and use a substance in the face of adverse circumstances like a dangerous health condition or legal consequence. You may also show physical, psychological, and behavioral signs of addiction.
Common Physical Signs of Addiction Include:
- Bloodshot eyes or dilated pupils
- Appetite changes
- Strange sleep patterns
- Runny nose or sniffing
- Unexplained and sudden weight changes
- Shaking, tremors, or poor coordination
- Intoxication signs such as slurred speech
- Unusual odors
Common behavioral signs include:
- Strained relationships
- Secretive or suspicious behavior
- Trouble at work, school, or with the law
- Legal issues like arrests or charges
- Failing performance at work or school
- Changes in social circles, new friend groups
- Unexplained need for money, constantly asking for cash
- Stealing money or valuables
- Lack of control with drugs or alcohol
- Increased tolerance (drinking or using more before it’s effective)
- Using drugs or alcohol when it is dangerous (i.e., drinking and driving)
- Lack of self-care, poor hygiene
The psychological signs of addiction can look like the following:
- Fearful, panicked, anxious, or paranoid without a clear cause
- Lethargy, lack of motivation
- Unusual surges of energy
- Strange and sudden mood swings
- Irritability or agitation
- Angry outbursts or bouts of rage
How To Tell If You Have an Addiction
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and serves as the principal authority for psychiatric diagnoses, lists eleven criteria that comprise addiction.
If you display two of the following symptoms over 12 months, an addiction to a substance might be present:
- Taking more of the drug than intended and for a longer time than intended
- A persistent desire to stop taking drugs or repeated unsuccessful attempts to quit taking drugs
- A lot of time spent trying to get drugs, abuse them, and/or recover from their effects
- Intense cravings or urges for specific drugs
- Failing to go to work or school, or to meet obligations to friends and family because of drug abuse
- Ongoing drug abuse despite physical, mental, emotional, or social problems associated with the abuse
- Giving up hobbies or activities to abuse drugs
- Ongoing abuse of drugs in inappropriate situations, such as using them in the morning before work, driving while intoxicated, or abusing drugs around children
- Experiencing physical or psychological problems due to substance abuse but continuing to abuse drugs anyway
- Physical tolerance, meaning the body needs more of the drug to experience the original level of intoxication
- Experiencing symptoms of withdrawal when trying to quit the drug
Here’s What To Expect In Addiction Treatment
A reputable drug rehabilitation center adheres to the standards established by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in its Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment, which are outlined as follows:
- Addiction is a complex but treatable disease that affects brain function and behavior.
- No single treatment is appropriate for everyone.
- Treatment needs to be readily available.
- Effective treatment attends to multiple needs of the individual, not just his or her drug abuse.
- Remaining in treatment for adequate time is critical.
- Behavioral therapies—including individual, family, or group counseling—are the most commonly used forms of drug abuse treatment.
- Medications are an important element of treatment for many patients, especially when combined with counseling and other behavioral therapies.
- An individual’s treatment and services plan must be assessed continually and modified as necessary to ensure that it meets his or her changing needs.
- Many drug-addicted individuals also have other mental disorders.
- Medically assisted detoxification is only the first stage of addiction treatment and by itself does little to change long-term drug abuse.
- Treatment does not need to be voluntary to be effective.
- Drug use during treatment must be monitored continuously, as lapses during treatment do occur.
- Treatment programs should test patients for the presence of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases, and provide targeted risk-reduction counseling, linking patients to treatment if necessary.
Drug rehab facilities that adhere to these principles offer you the best chance at a successful and sustained recovery. However, if you are considering addiction treatment, you have to take measures to give yourself the best chance at success as well.
What You Can Do To Achieve a Successful Recovery
It’s cliché at this point, but achieving sobriety is a two-way street. It is not only incumbent upon the rehab facility to administer the best treatment plan for your needs, but you also have to bring the right attitude and willingness to make this process work.
According to Psychology Today, some things you can do to achieve a successful recovery are:
Be Ready and Willing To Change
While this seems obvious, the point remains indisputably true. If you are unwilling to embrace the treatment process to become sober, rehab will ultimately be a waste of your time and money. As noteworthy doctor Hans Selye once said, “Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one.”
Believe You Can Make This Happen
When you enter drug treatment, you have to uphold the belief that you can overcome challenges and make things happen. Psychology Today refers to this concept as self-efficacy, and it is critical to your success: “Once you’ve decided to get clean, you have to have a conviction that you can actually do it.” This can be challenging because past experiences can cloud your perspective and attempt to sabotage your recovery journey.
However, as Psychology Today points out, the more positive changes you can make, the more capable and stronger you feel. This can create the momentum you need to continue those positive changes.
Make Your Psychological and Emotional Wellness a Priority
Simply put, people in recovery who have untreated anxiety or depression do not stay sober for very long. It is critical that people in treatment address their anxiety or depression issues. Why? Because those untreated mental health issues can manifest when symptoms become overwhelming. When those symptoms arise, they can compel people to return to the substance that got them addicted in the first place, resulting in relapse.
Develop or Maintain Your Support System
Interpersonal support from family members, friends, counselors, and/or other confidants, is essential to recovery. Surround yourself with individuals who understand and know what you are going through. These are the people who are willing to stand by and cheer you on as you go through treatment. When rehab gets tough, these folks can keep you focused on your sobriety.
Set Up a Structure and Routine and Stick With It
Because of the chaotic and volatile nature of addiction, it is essential that you develop a structured environment and daily routine. Structure and routine are the bedrocks of successful recovery.
According to Psychology Today, “It means establishing a sense of organization and order with regard to daily tasks and responsibilities. It means attending to the basic activities of daily life, keeping a simple daily schedule that you can stick to, maintaining a balanced lifestyle, and making sure sobriety remains a priority.”
When you incorporate these practices into your treatment process, you greatly bolster your chances of successful and sustained recovery.
What Professional Addiction Treatment Offers
Professional treatment entails a gamut of services best described as a continuum of care, a system of evidence-based recovery processes marked by four broad levels of therapy.
Whether your addiction is to alcohol, opioids, marijuana, or cocaine, a reputable, professional rehab program will remove that addictive substance from your body, reestablish your mental and physical stability, and help you identify the underlying causes of your addiction. What’s more, you will be equipped with strategies and life skills to successfully live as a sober and healthy individual.
If you have a substance abuse disorder and a co-occurring mental health issue, you can get specialized dual-diagnosis treatment. Dual diagnosis can help you address the anxiety or depression disorders that often derail recovery.
Professional treatment begins with medical detoxification, which occurs through acute treatment. Detox occurs when the addictive substance is removed from the body, and any present withdrawal symptoms are safely alleviated. During this process, a staff of doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel will provide you with around-the-clock care and supervision.
Depending on the severity and nature of your addiction, the next step after detox is clinical stabilization services, where you will have access to an array of treatment and counseling options that address the mind, body, and spirit. Such a comprehensive approach can effectively help you break the grip of addiction.
Those treatment and therapy options include the following:
- Nutritional assessments
- Emotional regulation
- Medical education
- Motivational enhancement
- Relapse prevention
- The 12 steps of recovery
- Wellness skills
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) skills
- Genetic testing
- Family-focused therapy
- Trauma-informed sessions
If you have a mild addiction, then outpatient can occur after detox. Outpatient provides therapy and counseling on a part-time basis, allowing you the freedom and flexibility to attend to your life’s obligations.
After treatment is completed, you can get connected to a recovery community that can provide support and mentoring as you begin your new journey.
How Rehab Success Is Measured
Measuring rehab success is not easy, nor is it simple to measure treatment outcomes. Fortunately, however, it is not impossible. Measurement is typically done at an individual, not program level.
You must understand that many factors determine long-term outcomes to treat chronic addictive disorders. You have to look at levels of drug use, family functioning, criminal behavior, employment, educational achievement, and medical problems.
The information is gathered prior to when treatment starts, and during treatment. It’s imperative to assess these problems that clients bring with them as they enter treatment to compare the effectiveness of the program.
An approach advocated by Psychology Today is to measure the overall quality of life. Many areas deserve attention when a person is entering recovery, which includes relationships, employment, mental well-being, fun and recreation, criminal involvement, and personal growth.
We all know someone in recovery that is miserable, and it requires a lot of work to address each of these areas. Sobriety doesn’t translate to success, and focusing on what we’ve discussed is how rehab success is measured.
How Effective Is Drug Addiction Treatment?
The goal of treatment is to return individuals to productive functioning in the family, community, and workplace. Most of those who get into and remain in treatment will stop using drugs or alcohol, improve their occupational, social, and psychological functioning, as well as decrease their criminal activity.
Individual treatment outcomes are solely dependent on the extent and nature of the client’s problem, the appropriateness of treatment, and related services that are used to address the problems.
As with other chronic diseases, with the right help, addiction can be managed successfully.
Treatment allows people to counteract addiction’s disruptive effects on their brain and behavior to regain control of their lives. Relapsing is not only possible; it’s likely. Symptom recurrence rates are similar to diabetes, hypertension, and asthma.