Read these 17 Treatment Philosophy Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Substance Abuse tips and hundreds of other topics.
One of the important factors that many people both in the field of therapy and in early recovery neglect is an understanding of the medical and psychological components of the disease of addiction. People often get mired into the logistical, and, of course, essential aspects of treatment but the education regarding how and why a person becomes addicted to drugs is often lost. One major distinction -and mistake- in the treatment of addiction as opposed to other diseases, such as diabetes, is that healthcare practitioners tend to skip the educational component of the treatment.
In order to fully respect and understand both the severity of the disease of addiction, as well as the most successful methods of treatment, a person in early recovery, and their families and their current healthcare practitioners who are new to the disease should seek educational opportunities to understand the exact processes that are taking place in the addict's body and mind. The American Council on Drug Addiction website is a good starting place for gathering both information and additional resources. The more timely the research, the better, as science is always evolving and new information is always emerging.
The kind of drug rehab facilities that are advertised in magazines and on television can often be both romanticized and daunting to addicts in early recovery. While these very expensive facilities do have good resources, there are many less expensive facilities that offer strong treatment teams and high-quality care. Additionally, many of the less expensive facilities will also take various insurance plans, including Medicare/Medicaid.
The bottom line about drug rehab is that an addict who wants to recover will recover. A person can go to the most prestigious and expensive facility in the world and continue to relapse. Once a person makes up his/her mind that he/she wants help, the options are endless and readily available. Call the nearest major hospital or 12-step office and ask for further information. You can also call the nearest mental health center and ask for intake. Trained case managers should be able to answer your questions.
Group therapy is becoming more and more popular in the clinical world and there is good reason for this expansion. Group therapy, which is not to be confused with Alcoholics Anonymous, is a group that is comprised of peers who intend to work on relational issues. Sometimes groups include members all struggling with a similar problem, but the more traditional and/or psychodynamic groups involve the formation of relationships within the group context, the reenactment of often self-defeating behavioral patterns, and the resolution of these behaviors/thought processes in a safe, cohesive environment. There is always a clinically trained facilitator in this process.
Group therapy can be particularly well-suited for recovering addicts, especially when working with a clinician who understands the underlying workings of the addictive disease, as one of the major difficulties for addicts is the development and maintenance of healthy, supportive and mutual relationships. Group therapy can be a very helpful way to learn about oneself and to also increase the recovering addict's awareness of and relationship with self.
"Drug treatment centers" and "substance abuse clinics" are broad terms that can imply several different settings and experiences. Another term one might hear is "substance abuse center." Any similar term is simply a variation on a variety of potential treatment experiences for addicts in early recovery. One of the essential problems with addicts early in recovery is a sense of inflated ego that must be deflated if any help is to be sought, as well as a chemical dependency for which it is essential to receive safe and responsible detox. Drug treatment centers/substance abuse clinics as a whole tend to focus on these two major components in early recovery.
Below are some of the common misconceptions about Alcoholics Anonymous (and related programs) and the correction of these myths.
1. Alcoholics Anonymous is a religious cult
While there is a spiritual component to AA (not a religious one), there is no requirement for membership in the fellowship other than a desire to stop drinking. There is no requirement that one believe in anything other than his/her desire to seek help.
2. If I join AA I will never have a life again
AA is a program designed to offer a better way of living to those people who have tried their own designs for getting sober and have repeatedly failed at doing so. It is a place where one can meet people with similar experiences, feel understood, and improve his/her quality of life. The purpose is to enhance one's overall life experience-which includes life outside of AA.
3. AA is anti-medication for members with mental illness
The World Service Office of Alcoholics Anonymous (which is the governing body of rules and regulations for the program) does not indicate anywhere that there is any policy against taking psychotropic medications for mental illness. While there are some members of AA who adhere to this practice, they are not appropriately practicing the tenets of the program outlined by the WSO. AA does not claim to be a group of medical professionals and wholly supports members seeking outside treatment in order to meet their individual needs. If you have any other questions or concerns about AA and potential aspects that you may feel conflicted about, it is recommended that you directly contact the World Service Office and seek further information.
It is often recommended as part of the recovery process that one receive(s) individual therapy to enhance his/her awareness and relational skills. While this can be very helpful, it is important for both incoming addicts and mental health practitioners to know that it is not in the best interest of either clinician or client to treat someone who simply refuses to seek additional help for his/her addiction.
Individual therapy is one component of the treatment process that can be very rewarding and useful to those in recovery. If already working with a therapist that you trust/respect, it could certainly be helpful to continue working with him/her as long as you are willing to be open and honest about your addiction treatment and the role that it plays in your life. It is also recommended to consider working with a therapist who has expertise in the field so that you are able to receive the maximum benefits from the energy and time that you invest.
The number one most successful program in getting alcoholics/addicts sober, when coupled with appropriate detoxification and other support systems (such as outpatient therapy and medication support when needed) is Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous is an organization that comprises non-professionals who are each attending meetings, providing support and engaging in a twelve-step practice to both cease substance abuse and treat the emotional malady and emptiness so evident in addiction. Alcoholics Anonymous is completely free and there are meetings all over the world (including other related programs such as Narcotics Anonymous, Alanon, etc.) through which one can receive support.
If you are interested in seeking help, contact the local AA office in your nearest major city. There are sober AA members on-call 24 hours a day to answer your questions and to make you feel less isolated and alone.
Addiction is a disease of the mind, which lies to the addict and convinces him/her that everyone is against them, and that only the addict has everything under control. Additionally, it is a disease that will actually think two, three or even four times about quitting, even after loss and even potential death have ensued. It is absolutely essential that the person who wants to get sober does not try to do so on his/her own. Staying in the addict brain alone is like trying to be a professional swimmer without arms and legs. It simply cannot work. With additional resources and support, however, both parties can find success.
While it is not recommended that a recovering person dismantle all his/her relationships and isolate from the world, it is recommended that he/she recognizes that these environments and situations did not lend themselves to healthy choices or ultimate happiness in life. Most people in early recovery have, in fact, lost a great deal of material things and, more importantly, all of their self-worth.
The important thing to remember is that the people who want you to be healthy and safe are truly looking out for your best interests. If people in your life are opposed to your recovery (and this may include certain members of your family) chances are that they are mired in their own illness and/or not available to contribute to your desire for a better life. Remember, if you are not clean and sober, you will lose all those people/things in the long run anyway. Why not try something different?
Many people in early recovery from alcohol and drug abuse have marked family difficulties. This reality exists for a variety of reasons. Alcoholism is a familial disease and one that adversely affects everyone in the person's life. Those around the alcoholic/addict become unreasonably controlling, angry, nagging and, literally obsessed with the whereabouts and behaviors of the addict. This type of behavior is simply addiction in another form. Obsession with the alcoholic/addict allows those people to escape themselves the same way that the alcoholic/addict is escaping him/herself with substances.
For these reasons, it is highly recommended that everyone in the family seek help. Don't be upset, however, if your family members or close friends do not want to seek help along with you. While it is very helpful to a recovering addict if his/her family seeks help, it is certainly not a requirement. Any member of the family can change, providing that he/she is willing to do the necessary work and behave differently. This includes the family members who want help even though the alcoholic doesn't and the alcoholic/addict who desires to stay sober even though the family members want to stay the same.
Synanon, originated in the 1950s, was a drug-treatment program that grew into a destructive cult. Its two-year recovery plan involved a confrontational style of therapy, and a patient's recovery was considered successful if he/she was absorbed into the Synanon community rather than returned to society and family. In the decades Synanon was active, thousands of people entered treatment but only 65 ever succeeded in building lives outside the group.
In the 1960s and '70s, the group implemented a number of money-making schemes and grew increasingly more estranged from society, even developing its own armed forces. Facing negative media coverage and denial of tax-exempt status, Synanon was forced to disband in 1980.
Its confrontational, encounter-group-based model is still followed in some programs, particularly outside the United States.
Harm reduction is a pragmatic approach to patients whose addiction is compounded by other psychological and social ills. It takes the viewpoint that society will never be drug-free, and that the best approach to drug issues is to tackle those that cause crime and other harmful effects.
Harm reduction draws on many disciplines, but measures outcomes in terms not of drug use itself, but of related "harms" such as disease, death, and crime. In this model, resources and energy are directed toward those drugs that cause comparatively greater harm, while some others (such as marijuana) receive less attention.
Harm-reduction-based programs may include needle exchanges, food and hygiene services, treatment based on individual dignity, and substance abuse clinics offering factual, science-based drug education both for addicts and for young people who may come into contact with drugs.
Virtually all drug treatment programs include some elements of the 12-step model, in part because there is some evidence indicating it contributes to a successful pattern of abstinence over time, and in part because the program has been available for decades free of charge to any who choose to pursue it, self-supporting through its own voluntary contributions.
The 12-step model has its critics, and some people say the program does not work for them, often because they prefer a recovery program more in tune with their spiritual outlook or lack thereof. Others object to the requirement of total abstinence.
Still, thousands of meetings are held around the U.S. every day and the number of meetings continues to grow -- a sign that many people are finding something valuable in this program. Some studies have shown that regardless of motivation or participation, simple attendance at meetings once a week is a positive predictor of a person's ability to stay drug-free.
The most common faith-based recovery programs are aimed at Christians, but Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Pagan, and other faiths support recovery groups for their members on one level or another.
In faith-based treatment, the power of a supreme being is directly invoked to inspire the addict in continued abstinence and to grant her the personal fortitude required to avoird relapsing.
The most effective such programs are inspired by the faith and motivation of their organizers, but draw their treatment models from current scientific information, treating addictions as diseases rather than sins, and adding behavioral and medical treatment to faith-based counseling, which is seldom effective on its own. In addition, many addicts who are not religious are turned off by programs that seem to be pushing a particular spiritual viewpoint.
While 12-step groups are open to people of all faiths, and to many of no particular faith, members of some religions find they get more effective support from people on the same spiritual path. Some churches, temples, and spiritual organizations also offer their own recovery groups, mostly adapted from the standard 12-step model.
While addictions and recovery follow broad basic patterns, the underlying issues in each person's addiction are different. Programs that offer a strong component of individual therapy can be beneficial and possibly necessary to prepare some patients for long-term recovery.
It's important in the individual model to address the underlying issues of a person's addictive behavior, and focus on ways to properly treat the addiction. With the help of expert therapists, an individual being treated can hone in on the thoughts and feelings that are associated with addiction, and devise strategies and coping mechanisms to work through future challenges outside of therapy.
Such a model may be particularly valuable for those who have tried standard drug treatments, only to relapse.
Those who deal with young people at risk for drug use often struggle to find ways to deter addiction while providing honest information. One approach that has some adherents is to confront young people with the effects of addiction -- an approach named "scared straight," after a movie in which hard-core criminals talked to young delinquents about the consequences of a life of crime.
For instance, a sheriff's deputy in Washington state collects photos of people arrested for meth-related crimes, with mug shots from repeated arrests showing the addict's rapid physical deterioration. He then shows these to teens in presentations aimed at demonstrating the truth of meth addiction.
Other experts argue that fear-based tactics of prevention are not the best way to reach teens, that a more effective public policy approach would involve supporting teens in finding achievement-oriented activities that will keep them away from drugs. Researchers continue to investigate what prevention approaches will be most effective.
If you've seen "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," you probably have a very negative view of electroshock therapy, and indeed this approach is still controversial.
However, in a much tamer form than that experienced by Jack Nicholson's character in the movie, electroshock therapy is making something of a comeback in the treatment of severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia. Because these disorders often accompany or precede drug addiction, electroconvulsive therapy may be considered as a potential treatment for a recovering addict.
Those considering this form of therapy for themselves or a loved one should do their research on the track record and side effects, which can include loss of years of memory. Many patients also report that the effects are temporary and that their illnesses return within a few months to a couple of years.