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There are a lot of unknowns when it comes to combatting addiction, and the overwhelming uncertainty can lead to anxiety for those who are struggling, as well as for their loved ones. But understanding what to expect before entering treatment can help to ease much of the stress for all parties involved.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), people suffering from a legitimate addiction cannot simply stop using for a few days and then carry on as normal as if they were cured. Addiction is a chronic disease that affects the brain. Treatment is necessary for the afflicted individual to stop using drugs, remain sober, and contribute to family, work, and society in a productive way.
When it comes to addiction treatment, no single method or approach works for every individual, but there are various forms that have proven to be effective for many. Unfortunately, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that 89 percent of people who needed treatment for an alcohol or illicit drug use problem did not receive it in 2013. The first step to getting more people into treatment is educating them on how it can help, but the NIDA reports that treatment does not actually need to be voluntary in order to be effective.
Effective addiction treatment addresses all of a client’s needs, not just the drug abuse, and it often begins with a medical detox phase. The length and intensity of the detox period depend on a variety of factors, including the substance that the individual abused and the extent of the addiction. Here are some general withdrawal timelines for various substances:
Once a client’s health has stabilized in the medical detox phase, it’s time enter the next stage of treatment. That might be residential treatment, a partial hospitalization program, or outpatient treatment. SAMHSA reports that short-term residential treatment is more popular than long-term treatment, which can last for 6-12 months. Regardless of the particular recovery program, individuals in treatment will attend various types of therapy, where they will learn to confront their addiction and gain the tools they need to remain sober despite any triggers that might come their way. Clients should remain in treatment until they are confident that they are strong enough to face the outside world again.
It is important to note that treatment plans should be modified as time goes on to meet a client’s changing needs. At the end of the day, there is no single treatment plan or timeline that works for everyone. A treatment program can last anywhere from a few days to a year or more. Once treatment ends, it’s up to clients and their families to enact a positive aftercare plan that will help maintain a life of sobriety. Kicking an addiction is a lifelong journey, but it’s a manageable one if individuals commit to it and have a supportive structure in place that will help them.