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Opening April 2019

Drug Rehab: Why It's Necessary and How It Could Save Your Life

Disclaimer: This article is not intended as a substitute for the counsel of a qualified physician or licensed therapist. This content should be used for purely informational purposes. Please consult your doctor if you have further inquiries on this subject. We intend to impart the most accurate and recent information but cannot make any guarantees.

"I was so hooked on opiates that I couldn't get out of bed,"

said actor Matthew Perry, describing the worst point of his addiction to prescription pills and alcohol. His problems with substance abuse began at the young age of 13 and continued until he entered drug rehab for the second time at the age of 32.

Now 17 years sober, Matthew Perry is a public advocate for sobriety and works with social groups to improve the way addicts are treated by both the media and the government court system. He even converted his Malibu home into a sober living facility to help other people who are working towards recovery.

"If I don't have sobriety, I don't have anything."
-Matthew Perry

Anyone who has suffered with substance use disorder can see the truth behind these words. Drug addiction could eventually rob you of everything you hold dear, and sobriety is the best way to glue your life back together after it falls apart.

Matthew Perry is a great example of the addiction struggle. He began fighting his addiction with his first stay in a drug rehabilitation facility in 1997, but it took four years and two stints in inpatient rehab before he finally achieved recovery in 2001. Although he has abstained from using since then, he is so determined to stay in recovery that he checked himself into drug rehab several times during the following years, simply to renew his focus on sobriety.

Perry understands deeply the nature of substance use disorder - a lifelong condition that can only remain in remission with constant vigilance. It is a lesson that is hard won, but once you learn this important fact, the battle is halfway won.

Stories like Perry's are inspiring, but the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) states that over 21 million people in the United States are still struggling with substance abuse, and of those, only 2.6 million people seek help. Like Matthew Perry, it can take years of denial, relapses, and lost battles to finally win the war against addiction, but it can be done if you only seek out the help you need.

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What is Drug Rehab?

Commonly confused with drug detox, drug rehabilitation is much more than a quick way to get clean. A good drug treatment program helps users to understand and treat their psychological dependence to drugs using a variety of counseling, holistic, educational, and medical treatments. The most common types of drug rehab programs are:

  • Inpatient - Residential care provides full accomodations along with a full drug treatment plan for a standard duration of 28 days, depending on the facility.
  • Outpatient - This type of program allows the patient to continue with their everyday life at home while attending several hours of drug treatment every week.
  • Intensive Outpatient - Although the patient can still live at home during intensive outpatient therapy, they will attend a rigorous schedule of 12 hours per week or more of treatment.
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Every addiction treatment center is different, but in general they will offer some combination of the following:

  • Group therapy
  • Physical exercise and sports
  • Nutritional education
  • One-on-one counseling
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Anger management
  • Dual diagnosis - treatment for psychological conditions that attribute to addiction, such as depression or bipolar disorder
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Does Drug Rehabilitation Really Work?

Due to the high occurrence of relapse rates, it can happen that people with substance use disorder get clean through a drug treatment program and then start using again, relapse into addiction, and eventually re-enter rehab. This is exactly what happened to Matthew Perry, along with other famous individuals like Eminem and Lindsay Lohan. The phenomenon is so common, in fact, that it has a name - revolving door syndrome.

Because of revolving door syndrome, many people assume that drug rehab doesn't work. This misconception is fueled by the idea that drug addicts are weak or self-destructive, which is not the case. Relapse rates after sobriety are 40-60% on average, not because rehab doesn't work, but because substance use disorder is a chronic disease. Rehab does not "fix" or cure the disease; it just teaches the patient how to live with and manage addiction, as anyone with a chronic disease must take their medication and live with it day-to-day.

Studies like this one from Addiction Journal show that recovering addicts have higher rates of long-term sobriety after completing rehab than those who do not complete rehab. That's because drug rehab can help the patient to analyze their own addiction and the causal factors that led to it, identify triggers, and cope with the day-today-day challenges of fighting an addiction. These skills are not likely to be self-taught.

While there will always be a chance of relapse, someone who knows and uses the right tools will have a much higher chance of long-term recovery. Rehab can give you these tools.

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How Did This Happen?

If you are suffering from substance use disorder, or if you know someone who is, you have probably seen the implications of blame and disdain from other people close to you. Even if it is not said outright, many people assume that addiction is caused by a lack of self-control, strength, or moral character on the part of the user. This is simply not true.

"A lot of people think that addiction is a choice. A lot of people think it's a matter of will. That has not been my experience. I don't find it to have anything to do with strength."
-Matthew Perry

Substance use disorder is defined by both the American Medical Association (AMA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) as a chronic brain disease. It is not a choice, and it doesn't have a cure. This is not to say that there is nothing to be done about it.

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Long-term drug abuse changes the brain permanently. Once the brain and body have developed a dependence to illicit substances, it will take a lifetime commitment of daily dedication to maintain a healthy recovery and sober lifestyle. It can be done and has been done by many, but before you can begin recovery you must understand your addiction, how it works, and how it can be managed in your daily life. This process will likely be much easier and more successful if you have a team of medical personnel and trained professionals to help you begin the journey.

If you're reading this article, it's likely that you're struggling with drug addiction or you are close to someone who is. Have hope; even though your situation may seem hopeless, addiction is not a life sentence. Read on to learn about the nature of drug addiction and its effects on the human body, as well as the treatment options that can help you or your loved one achieve lifelong recovery.

The first step will be at least one week of drug detox to shed your physical dependence on illicit substances. The final reward will be the rest of your life.

The Effects of Illicit Drugs

Every different drug has a different effect on your brain and body, but the end result is the same for all - a physical dependence that makes your brain think it needs drugs to function normally. This is how each of the most common substances affects the human body:

Opioids

By far the fastest growing drug abuse problem in the United States, the opioid crisis that is taking hold of America has grown more than 500% in the past 8 years. In 2015, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that more than 3 million people in the USA have an opioid abuse problem. Opioids include the street drug heroin as well as prescription pain medications like hydrocodone, oxycodone, codeine, morphine, and fentanyl.

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One alarming aspect of opioids is that sometimes addictions like these can form completely by accident. For example, pop star Prince was once prescribed opioid pain medications after an on-stage knee injury. Allegedly, he unintentionally became addicted to the pills his doctor prescribed for the pain and began seeking them out for reasons other than knee pain. In 2016, Prince died of a fentanyl overdose.

Regardless of whether opioids are purchased on the street or prescribed by a doctor, their effect on the brain is the same. This type of substance binds to the brain's opioid receptors and triggers the release of a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine affects the pleasure centers of the brain, creating intense feelings of euphoria. Since the brain is wired to repeat activities that cause pleasure, its instincts will lead to cravings for more opioids.

Stimulants

Running second in popularity for purposes of drug abuse, stimulants also trigger the release of dopamine, as well as other neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine. Both of these - norepinephrine and serotonin - act as stimulatory agents for the nervous system and cause a burst of energy for the user. In low doses, they can increase alertness and concentration, but if abused, these substances can have disastrous effects on mental and physical health.

Methamphetamines, ecstacy, cocaine, and prescription medications like Adderall and Ritalin are all considered stimulants. Users enjoy the pleasurable release of dopamine caused by these drugs, but they also claim to use stimulants for other reasons, such as:

  • To remain awake for longer periods of time than would otherwise be possible
  • To better enjoy the late-night party culture of raves, music festivals, and nightclubs
  • To increase sexual stamina and prowess
  • In the case of prescription stimulants, to increase productivity at work or school

Regardless of why users abuse stimulants, any of these substances can result in dangerous addictions.

Hallucinogens

Also known as "psychedelic" drugs, hallucinogens do not trigger dopamine release in the way of most other illicit substances. Hallucinogens imitate serotonin neurotransmitters and bind to serotonin receptors, causing changes to perceptions, personality, and behavior. This class of drug includes substances like peyote, LSD, ketamine, DMT, and psilocybin.

Although not all hallucinogens are addictive, all of them can cause a user to develop tolerance, meaning that a user must take more with each use to create the same effect. These drugs have also been shown to permanently change the shape and structure of neurons after only one use. Once neurons have been changed, the signalling pathways and communication systems of the brain will also be changed. Some hallucinogens, such as ketamine or DMT, can create powerful addictions, and all of them present a risk of overdose.

Other Addictive Substances

Above are named some of the most common illicit drugs, but they are not the only substances that cause harmful addictions. Here are some other addictive substances:

What Makes Illicit Substances Addictive?

Addiction is caused by the effect that drugs have on the brain's neurological communication system over time. Most illicit substances affect the release and intake of neurotransmitters - the chemicals that the brain uses to send messages and to create emotions, feelings, sensations, and perceptions. When drugs trigger the release or affect the receptors of "happy chemicals" like dopamine and serotonin, the user feels a short-lived euphoria.

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The brain has evolved to seek out and repeat activities that stimulate its pleasure centers. Normally, these activities would include things like having sex or eating good foods. Since drugs create a particularly strong sensation of pleasure, the brain's urge to repeat the activity is even stronger than normal. The repeated use of drugs will flood the brain with happy chemicals, creating a severe imbalance. The brain will naturally try to correct the imbalance by inhibiting the release of pleasurable neurotransmitters and reducing the number of pleasure receptors. This activity, in turn, builds tolerance so that the user must consume more substances at each sitting to achieve the same level of euphoria.

As this behavior goes on, the brain will be forced to completely alter its communication pathways to compensate for the steady inflow and unnatural quantity of happy chemicals. The result is that when the user does stop using, the new balance that the brain had created to compensate for substance abuse will be thrown into chaos, and a range of intense and painful withdrawal symptoms will occur as a response to the sudden change. The neurological system that had been altered because of drug use will no longer remember how to function without a steady flow of illicit substances.

Because of the agony brought on by drug withdrawal, many addicts will continue to use even when they know it's destructive, just to stave off drug withdrawal symptoms.

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Effects of Drugs on the Body

The brain is not the only part of the body affected by drug abuse, of course. As drugs take over the functions of the brain, they also enter the bloodstream, affecting the body in many ways. In the short term, drug use can cause:

  • Heightened risk of stroke or heart attack
  • Panic attacks
  • Severe drowsiness or wakefulness
  • Changes to heart rate and blood pressure
  • Escalation of harmful behaviors and dangerous sexual practices
  • Unhealthy changes in appetite
  • Overdose or death

Long-term drug abuse will result in even more grievous consequences to the organs and functions of the body, such as:

  • Impairment or disease in the liver and kidneys
  • Hormonal changes
  • Lung or heart disease
  • Cancer
  • HIV, hepatitis, and other transferable diseases
  • Neurological changes
  • Death

As if this list wasn't alarming enough, a study by Preventative Medicine Journal found that long-term drug addicts lose an average of 18 years of life due to the complications of drug abuse.

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Making the Decision to Stop Using

There's a reason why every major city offers addiction recovery programs and most local government facilities have a drug court system. To stop using once addiction has set in is incredibly difficult; few people achieve long-term sobriety without help.

That's because your brain - the source of all needs, instincts, and desires - is the very thing that is urging you to keep using. To deliberately defy the urges your brain sends you is especially punishing, which is what happens when you try to stop using after your neurological system has developed a physical dependency.

This is the point of recovery - to eradicate physical dependence and treat the causes and effects of psychological dependence. While the process will not completely erase the changes that addiction wrought on your brain, it can help you to understand and manage the disease. You simply have to make the decision to make a lifelong change and find the support system and help you need to achieve it.

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Drug Detox Phase

Once you begin the recovery journey, the first phase is drug detox. Most recovering addicts consider this to be the hardest leg of the journey. Detox is the process of managing the symptoms of drug withdrawal in a healthy way. This is the phase in which your brain and body shed their physical addiction to illicit substances.

As discussed previously, the drug-addicted brain has altered its neurological responses and signalling pathways in response to the steady inflow of illicit substances. In this state, the body thinks that drug abuse is the normal way of things and has forgotten how to function without it. So when you stop using, the brain will suddenly be left without any of the happy chemicals that it is used to receiving on a constant basis. Because of the previous suppression of neurotransmitter receptors in the pleasure centers of the brain, the only signals that will be left when the inflow of drugs ends are those chemicals that produce feelings of anxiety, pain, and depression.

The severe imbalance that is left after you quit using throws your brain and body into a confused state of neurological chaos. As your systems work to correct the imbalance, you will experience a wide range of painful and unpleasant drug withdrawal symptoms until the physical dependence to drugs has been eradicated.

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Is Detox Necessary to Recovery?

Not only is detox necessary, it is entirely unavoidable if you ever plan to become clean for any amount of time. No matter where and when you decide to do it, your body will go through withdrawal when you stop using. What matters is how you choose to deal with the drug withdrawal symptoms.

During the first days of detox, you will not likely be in a fit state to undergo a rigorous rehabilitation schedule, but there are a variety of therapeutic exercises and activities that can help you endure the process more smoothly.

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How Long Do Illicit Drugs Remain in the Body?

Although it varies from one substance to another, the euphoric effects of most drugs do not last very long. Many users assume that once the euphoric feeling has passed, the drug is already leaving their system, but this false impression can be dangerous and even deadly.

Illicit substances can remain in the bloodstream for hours or even days after their euphoric effects have worn off. Since some users continue to consume dose after dose every time they come down from a high, they are at a higher risk of overdose with each consecutive use. Below is the average time that each of the most popular substances remains in the body.

Cocaine and Other Stimulants

  • Blood: One to two days
  • Urine: Three to four days

Methamphetamines

  • Blood: 24 to 36 hours
  • Urine: Three to six days

Opioids

  • Blood: Up to 12 hours
  • Urine: Three to four days

LSD

  • Blood: Two to three hours
  • Urine: One to three days
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Drug Withdrawal Timelines and Symptoms

In general, drug withdrawal lasts one week, although it can vary greatly between substances. Even after the worst of the withdrawal symptoms pass, the psychological effects and cravings may last much longer. Here are drug withdrawal timelines for the major categories of substances, measured according to the amount of time that has passed since the last drug use or "fix".

Stage One: 12 Hours - 2 Days

  • Runny nose
  • The sweats
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety and agitation
  • Muscle aches
  • Excessive yawning
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Hypertension
  • Fever

Stage Two: 2 Days - 7 Days

  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Intense drug cravings
  • Goosebumps and "crawling skin" sensation
  • Nausea and vomiting

Although they are considered stimulants, the withdrawal for methamphetamines is different than that of other stimulants because of their highly toxic chemical composition.

Stage One: 1 Day - 3 Days

  • Anxiety
  • Sleepiness
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Exhaustion
  • Hallucinations
  • Panic

Stage Two: 4 Days - 7 Days

  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Aches & pains
  • Hunger
  • Agitation
  • Intense Cravings

Stage One: 4 Hours - 3 Days

  • Cravings
  • Remorse
  • Depression
  • Disorientation
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Confusion
  • Sleep deprivation

Stage Two: 4 Days - 7 Days

  • Dysphoria (general dissatisfaction with life)
  • Continued depression
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Apathy
  • Decreased cravings
  • Paranoia

Stage Three: 2 Weeks - 4 Weeks

Most withdrawal symptoms will fade after the first week, but stimulants are distinct for the more pronounced emotional symptoms that last for several weeks afterward. These may include intense anger, mood swings, anxiety, and depression.

Addiction to hallucinogens is not as common as other substances, but drugs like ketamine and PCP can cause dependence.

Stage One: 1 Day - 3 Days

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Rapid breathing
  • Hearing loss
  • Depression
  • Tremors
  • Fatigue
  • Double vision
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Rage

Stage Two: 4 Days - 14 Days

Throughout stage two, the withdrawal symptoms will be the same but will continue to lessen as time goes on until they disappear altogether after about two weeks.

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Psychological Dependence

Drug detox will rid the body of physical dependence, but psychological dependence is not so simple. Psychological dependence occurs when the user consumes drugs to fulfill some psychological deficiency or need. For instance, if a user "self-medicates" with illicit substances to address symptoms of depression or anxiety, this creates a psychological dependence. Another example might be someone who has a mood disorder or social anxiety and uses drugs to feel more at ease around other people. Psychological dependence fulfills deeper, more complicated needs and so takes much longer to understand and treat.

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Why Not Go Through Drug Detox at Home?

Many addicts who seek recovery are tempted to undergo the drug detox phase at home, assuming that it will be more comfortable and save money. Although it is certainly possible to complete detox at home, it is not highly recommended for several important reasons:

The highest rates of relapse occur during drug detox. That's because withdrawal is the most physically painful phase of recovery. So far, your current living situation has not discouraged you from using drugs, so why would your home environment prevent you from using during the misery of withdrawal?

The problem is that you'll be experiencing powerful cravings combined with incredibly unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. All of this torment can be soothed with one single dose of drugs. If you go through detox in a place where it is impossible to give in to temptation and obtain drugs, you will have much better chances of success. Your home is probably not that place.

Some drug withdrawal symptoms are more than painful. Depending on your substance of choice, the severity of your addiction, and the acuteness of the withdrawal symptoms, the process could cause significant health risks.

During opioid withdrawal, for example, many patients experience severe diarrhea and vomiting, which can cause dehydration, hospitalization, or death.

Another case in point is cocaine or methamphetamine withdrawal, both of which can cause intense suicidal thoughts. A patient who is not in a safe, supervised environment could give in to psychosis and do themselves harm.

If you perform detox in a residential care facility, you'll have access to a wide array of medical and therapeutic treatments that can reduce or soothe drug withdrawal symptoms. Medical doctors at addiction treatment centers can prescribe specific medications and activities that treat both withdrawal symptoms and underlying psychological factors.

If you do choose to go through detox at home, make an appointment with a physician to perform a full health examination before you start. Drug abuse can affect the health in numerous ways, so it is imperative that your doctor assures that you're physically healthy enough to undergo detox without medical supervision. Next, make sure you surround yourself with a trustworthy and sober support system to remind you to eat when you can, stay hydrated, and keep as active as possible. They should also be prepared to call an ambulance at the first sign of any emergency. Finally, although it may seem obvious, remove all traces of illicit substances and paraphernalia from your home before you begin.

Drug Detox Kits

If you've been tempted to use over-the-counter drug detox kits to help you through the detox phase, think again. Despite what the labels claim, these home detox kits are useless for purposes of easing withdrawal symptoms or making the process go faster.

In fact, drug detox kits are almost always intended for one purpose - to hide the presence of drugs in mandatory urine tests. While they may occasionally work for this purpose, hiding your drug use is hardly going to aid in your recovery. What's more, since drug detox kits are not regulated by any federal agency or health standards, they could prove detrimental to your health and the overall detox process.

Professional Drug Detox Programs

Most inpatient drug treatment centers provide supervised detox programs to help users go through withdrawal in a safe, protected environment. Not only does a drug-free environment culminate in higher completion rates, this type of program also provides medical intervention, therapeutic activities, counseling, and encouragement to make the detox process more bearable. Here are some of the treatments provided in a supervised drug detox program:

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1. Medical Intervention

A wide variety of prescription medications exist to help reduce and soothe the symptoms of drug withdrawal. Below we've listed the prescriptions that are most commonly used to assist patients through drug detox.

Opioid medical intervention uses a much milder form of the drug to ease the severest symptoms of opioid withdrawal and slowly wean the patient off of the substance completely. Some medications that serve this purpose include:

  • Methadone
  • Buprenorphine

The combination of physical symptoms and psychological changes that take place during stimulant withdrawal can be treated with several different types of medications. A doctor may prescribe very mild stimulants to relieve the "crash" effect, antidepressants if the patients shows signs of serious depression or suicidal thoughts, and muscle relaxers to reduce anxiety and agitation. This combination of prescriptions may include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Olanzapine
  • Modafinil
  • Diazepam

Medical intervention requires continuous supervision and monitoring by medical staff to track the patient's reaction to the medications. Dosages may need to be adjusted from day to day as the withdrawal symptoms change.

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2. Therapy

Most drug rehab centers provide a range of counseling services during detox, but some of the most helpful remedies during this phase are activity-based treatments, such as:

  • Yoga
  • Meditation and mindfulness practices
  • Physical workouts with a trainer
  • Art therapy
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Drug Rehabilitation

Unlike detox programs, drug rehab is not a temporary solution to substance use disorder. The purpose of drug rehabilitation is to help you to understand your own addiction, diagnose any underlying conditions that may attribute to substance use, and prepare you for the everyday challenges that will affect your future as a recovering addict. Without assistance from psychiatrists, medical experts, and professional counselors, it is unlikely that the average drug addict could achieve the same level of understanding and long-term success. Below we'll explain why.

Altered Neurological Function

After the brain has become physically dependent on illicit substances to function normally, its neurological processes and communication pathways will be forever altered. This state of physical dependence can be treated, of course, and some of the damage may be corrected, but the chronic condition of substance use disorder will remain. At this point, recovery will require a lifetime of self-discipline and commitment in order to maintain sobriety.

A qualified drug treatment center will educate you about the changes that have taken place in your brain and body, preparing you to live with substance use disorder in the future.

The Significant Dangers of Relapse

If you are currently suffering from drug addiction, it's safe to assume that your current living situation is not conducive to recovery. Despite your support system of family and friends, the risk of relapse during home recovery is much higher.

The problem with trying to attain sobriety in your home environment is the ease with which you can obtain more drugs when the worst stage of withdrawal sets in. Living at home has not prevented you from using before, so what will prevent you from having "just one more fix" during the pangs of withdrawal if your next dose is only one phone call away? That one phone call will not only cause a quick relapse, it could also be fatal.

Heightened Probability of Overdose During Withdrawal

When you quit using, your previous tolerance levels to illicit substances will immediately begin to drop. After only a few days of detox, your system will no longer be able to handle the same doses of drugs that you were taking before. The danger of relapse during early recovery is that most users assume they can continue using the same dose that were taking only a few days previously, but with tolerance levels now lower, overdose is much more likely. Relapse for opioid users especially can be deadly.

In a professionally supervised drug rehab facility, there will be no means of obtaining more drugs, significantly decreasing the chances of relapse and overdose. It can also be a more bearable process in residential care since a variety of medications, treatments, and counseling services can greatly reduce the severity and pain of drug withdrawal symptoms.

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Drug Rehab Success Rates

There have been a great deal of different studies and surveys performed to measure the effectiveness of drug rehab. Although results vary from study to study, the consensus is that drug rehabilitation definitely leads to higher long-term recovery rates. Here are a few articles to illustrate this point:

  • This survey by the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services found that recovery rates for addicts who had completed addiction treatment were 46% as opposed to 17% for those who had completed only detox programs.
  • A study in the Archives of General Psychiatry Journalshowed that out of 1,603 cocaine users, 73% of those who went through drug rehab stayed sober for at least one year after treatment.
  • Addiction Journal published a study demonstrating that long-term sobriety rates were 20% higher for patients who completed drug treatment programs than for those who did not.
  • Another study in Addiction Journal found that meth addicts who received addiction treatment were 33% more likely to stay sober for three months than meth users who had only gone through a detox program.

It's true that you won't find any evidence-based research showing that drug rehab has 95% recovery rates. This is because of the nature of substance use disorder; it is a chronic brain disease. The word "chronic" implies that relapse is possible because there is no cure for drug addiction. Just as relapse can occur for any other chronic disease, it can happen during addiction recovery. Any relapse would be enough to bring down the results of studies like those shown above, but don't let that discourage you. Relapse is not necessarily a failure to addiction recovery; sometimes it is part of the process. If you suffer from one short relapse but manage to leave it behind you and go on living a sober lifestyle, this should be considered a spectacular success, never a failure. Multiple relapses, on the other hand, indicate that you should seek out more help.

Can Substance Use Disorder Be Treated?

While there is no definite cure for substance use disorder, it can certainly be treated. Professional drug rehabilitation centers have helped millions of people who suffer from substance use disorder achieve lasting recovery. In fact, some of the tabloids' favorite celebrities have very publicly gone through addiction and recovery, and now live successful, sober lives:

  • Robert Downey Jr. has been in recovery for 15 years.
  • Colin Farrell has been in recovery for 12 years.
  • Eminem has been in recovery for 10 years.
  • Russell Brand has been in recovery for 15 years.
  • Ben Affleck has been in recovery for 17 years.
  • David Hasselhoff has been in recovery for 9 years.

Of course, some may say that the lives of the rich and famous are no example to live by, but you can visit a local chapter of Narcotics Anonymous to meet real, everyday people who have come back from the adversity of drug addiction to live happy, functional lives in recovery. Most recovering addicts will be more than willing to tell you about their recovery journeys.

It is clear that drug addiction is treatable and that success is attainable. Below are a few ways it can be done.

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Drug Rehabilitation Therapy - Treatment Methodologies

Advanced Treatment Technology

Not all drug rehab facilities offer the following programs, but more are adding them as research shows that dual diagnosis and neurofeedback treatment can have incredible results.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Although it is not always the case, it is common for drug addictions to be accompanied by mental, emotional, and social disorders that contribute to drug abuse. Dual diagnosis treatment refers to the practice of analyzing, diagnosing, and treating co-occurring mental illness in addition to substance use disorder.

Since almost half of those with severe drug addictions also exhibit symptoms of mental illness, treating both conditions is key to achieving long-term recovery. Since mental illness can exacerbate drug abuse and vice versa, it is not effective to treat one condition but not the other.

In a dual-diagnosis program, each patient will be given full psychiatric and biosocial examinations to ascertain if any underlying mental conditions exist. Once the diagnosis has been made, an individualized treatment plan will be created for each patient that includes medication, therapy, and counseling to treat both substance use disorder and any underlying mental conditions at the same time.

Thus, each patient can learn the full and complete nature of their own mental health and, ideally, continue to receive the right kind of treatment for their particular case long after rehab is completed.

Neurofeedback Therapy

One of the most advanced technologies in the addiction treatment field, neurofeedback therapy is a technique that can retrain the brain to turn away from addictive thinking patterns and incline towards healthier behavior. The process goes something like this:

Noninvasive electrode sensors are placed on your scalp as you sit in front of a computer monitor. The monitor plays a series of imagery and sounds as the electrodes record your brain activity. Over time, the computer analyzes your thinking patterns to determine your mental and emotional state.

In a series of subsequent sessions, the computer will continue to monitor your responses to the images on the screen, rewarding healthy, logical thinking patterns and steering the brain away from impulsive, harmful thought processes. Over time, your brain can correct some of the damage caused by drug dependence and relearn to think in a way that will be more helpful to long-term recovery.

Using Medical Intervention in Drug Rehab Programs

Previously we discussed how medical intervention can be used to relieve drug withdrawal symptoms during the detox phase. Certain medications can also be used to ease the transition into the rehabilitation process. Prescription programs like Opioid Replacement Therapy (ORT) are often used during drug treatment to reduce cravings and wean the patients off of addiction more gently.

This type of medical intervention is considered controversial by some since the medications used in ORT can also be habit-forming. However, most doctors agree that as long as the prescriptions are reduced over time and the patients continue with rigorous therapeutic activities to reduce their dependence, the medications are more helpful than harmful. In such a way, the patients would be completely weaned off of the medications by their release date.

Holistic Drug Rehabilitation Treatments

Holistic substance abuse plans approach treatment from a whole being perspective. All parts of the being - mind, body, and spirit - can be treated in an integrated program. This includes health and wellness from every angle including physical health, nutrition, and fitness, as well as emotional and spiritual well-being. Some of the treatments offered in a holistic drug treatment center include:

  • Exercise and movement therapies
  • Massage therapy
  • Yoga
  • Meditation and other relaxation techniques
  • Balanced diets and vitamin replenishment
  • Dietary supplements like herbs, vitamins, minerals, and probiotics
  • Acupuncture
  • Hipnosis
  • Art therapy

Classic Substance Abuse Counseling

While advancements in technology and holistic care techniques can be effective and innovative, some of the traditional drug rehabilitation methods are still very beneficial. Individual counseling and process groups are still go-to methods for increasing confidence and improving emotional stability. These are some classic solutions that will be found in most any drug rehab center:

  • Dialectical behavior therapy
  • Educational classes
  • Family therapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • One-on-one counseling
  • Gender-specific process groups
  • Contingency management
  • Strength-based therapy
  • Bibliotherapy
  • Educational classes
  • Community assimilation outings

A Day in a Drug Rehabilitation Center

Most inpatient drug rehab facilities offer a standard 28-day program, but treatment plans and schedules will often vary from patient to patient, contingent on their individual needs. However, depending on the treatment plan determined by you and a team of doctors and counselors, a day in drug treatment might look something like this:

  • 6:00am - Wake up, get organized, and eat a healthy breakfast
  • 7:00am - Start the day with wellness exercises such as yoga, gym workout, or meditation
  • 9:00am - Instructional classes and group activities
  • 12:00am - Nutritious lunch
  • 1:30 - Individualized counseling such as cognitive behavioral therapy or neurofeedback treatment
  • 3:00 - Gender-specific process group and other group activities
  • 5:00 - Relaxing activities to end the day such as family therapy or art therapy

How Much Does a Drug Rehab Program Charge?

Ideally, a good drug rehabilitation facility will individualize your drug treatment plan, meaning that treatment time, medical needs, and aftercare programs can vary greatly. For this reason, it is impossible to determine the exact cost of your stay at a residential care center before you come in for the initial assessment.

Many health insurance providers will cover part of the cost of drug rehab, so this will also affect your final out-of-pocket expenses. For those that do not have insurance, cash payments and payment plans can also be considered.

Obstacles to Seeking Out Addiction Treatment

When discussing the possibilities for drug treatment and recovery, many find it hard to make the leap and seek out help. There are a lot of excuses and obstacles that can seem to get in your way, but when it comes to your health and future, there's usually a solution to be found for every barrier.

Location Barriers: "I can't find a rehab facility closeby."

Even if there is no residential care center close to your home, there are multiple public transportation options that can take you anywhere in the country for a fair price. Most drug rehab centers will also help you to find aftercare or support groups that are local to your location when you return home.

Money Problems: "Drug rehabilitation is too costly."

Yes, the best drug rehabilitation centers can seem expensive, until you compare them to the cost of a substance abuse habit. If you have a substance use disorder, you are buying illicit substances on a regular basis. Imagine how much money you would save over the coming months and years if you stopped buying drugs altogether. The amount you will saving by achieving sobriety will far outweigh any amount you spend on recovery.

Also remember that many health insurance plans cover some part of addiction treatment fees, so be sure to check with your carrier.

Social Fears: "What will my friends and family think?"

With the undue attention and ridicule that the media gives to the latest "celebrity rehab story", the idea of going into a drug abuse program may seem humiliating or daunting. However, if your close friends and family are not yet aware of your substance abuse problem, they will certainly find out as it exacerbates. The shame and suffering that can be caused by drug abuse will eventually do much more harm to your relationships than a temporary stay in rehab. Take pride in your recovery.

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Aftercare Solutions

In most cases, your aftercare treatment plan will be in development from the time you arrive at the drug rehab facility. This step is crucial to transitioning into a healthy lifestyle of sobriety. Some of the aftercare solutions that are offered include:

OP: Standard outpatient care is the most flexible aftercare plan that involves several hours per week of drug counseling and therapy while the patient lives at home and integrates back into a normal lifestyle.

IPO: Intensive outpatient care is a step-up from standard OP, with 12 hours or more of drug treatment and therapy every week while the patient continues to live at home.

PHP: Partial hospitalization is the most rigorous outpatient program. The patient will sleep at home but can spend up to six hours per day, five days per week continuing inpatient treatment at the drug rehab facility.

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After Drug Rehabilitation Is Finished, What Comes Next?

Even when all outpatient programs are complete, your recovery journey will continue. After completing a comprehensive drug rehab program, you will be prepared with the knowledge and tools to recognize potential triggers and cope with cravings during daily life. Recovery requires a lifetime commitment, so you will need to find the appropriate methods that will help you maintain sobriety for the long term.

Your drug abuse treatment center will recommend local support groups and counseling programs that are convenient to your location. Some of the most popular drug abuse support organizations include:

Millions of people around the world live healthy, functional lives after drug addiction recovery. Many of these continue to attend meetings and support groups like those named above to maintain sobriety and to keep in touch with the large support community in case any additional help is needed. Remember, if ever you feel in danger of relapse or if you do suffer a relapse, help is only one phone call away. A good support system may be the foundation that your recovery journey is built upon.


Start Your Recovery Journey Now

When describing the moment when he decided to seek out help for his addiction, Matthew Perry said it was "this very lovely spiritual moment when everything's clear for one split second and I realize, I've got to go save myself."

Are you ready to go save yourself, or someone you love? As you know, addiction can destroy health, relationships, and eventually, every aspect of life. Your life and relationships are worth saving, and no matter how much damage has been done, the first step to repairing it is to make the decision to get help. Save yourself today and begin your recovery journey. ((Call to action))

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Northpoint Washington: Opening April 2019

Our facilities currently open for services:

Ashwood Recovery at Northpoint

Outpatient drug and alcohol rehab and addiction counseling located in Boise, Idaho.

Northpoint Recovery

Our National Medical Detox and Inpatient Addiction Facility.

The Evergreen at Northpoint

Outpatient drug and alcohol rehab and addiction counseling located in Washington State.