Before entering a rehab facility, patients may have to undergo detox treatment. Detox is the process in which a patient rids his or her body of the addictive substance. From start to finish, this process varies in length, but often takes about a week. As part of a medical detox program, recovering patients will be monitored by doctors and nurses and given medications to manage withdrawal, when appropriate. Once a patient completes detox, he or she is ready for rehab.
Like cocaine, crystal meth acts on the dopamine level in the brain but provides an additional touch of mimicking norepinephrine. The result? Neurons release more of both, while training your brain to need more in order to survive. The hangover and withdrawals last days and can break down a person mentally and physically. Addicts suffer psychosis, hallucinations, memory loss, severe depression and sometimes suicide.12
It’s commonly known that even after the completion of a treatment program, the temptation to drink again is a lifelong challenge. However, in addition to coping skills and medication, treatment also gives the patient a vast network of contacts – a therapist, a sponsor from a support group, etc. – who make it their priority to talk the addict out of a potential relapse. Being accountable to someone who understands the challenge of trying to remain sober after treatment helps counter the fear and frustration that can be a part of that challenge.
After the physical detoxification process, the next stage of alcohol treatment involves treating the mental health of the patient with counseling and therapy. A psychologist or psychotherapist will work closely with the patient to help identify the reasons that the patient turned to problem drinking. Once these reasons are understood, the next stage is to apply the understanding to the future, giving the patient the tools they need to make better choices and decisions. Part of the treatment process is to break associations with the people and environments that encouraged the patient to drink past healthy levels. Since alcohol is so prevalent in society and even everyday life, treatment will also involve learning how to resist the temptation to drink in socially acceptable situations, and how to deal with the thoughts and memories of the pleasure derived from drinking.
Research from NIAAA also suggests that alcoholism can stem from genes. While the specific “alcoholism gene” hasn’t yet been identified, there are known genes that can boost the power of alcohol and reduce the impact of a hangover. People with these gene combinations may get a bigger high from drinking, and they may not feel ill or sick after a long day of drinking. Their bodies just seem primed for alcohol abuse, and that can make them more likely to develop alcoholism.
Ask for friends and family to support you in the recovery process; chances are, they’ll be proud of you for taking control of your life again. External support groups include Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), which originated the 12-step program and now has approximately 2 million members. The 12 steps emphasize the participant’s ability to submit to a “higher power” to ask for help. The higher power doesn’t have to be rooted in religion, though that is the case for many. Others look for a “higher power” within.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), patients stabilized on adequate, sustained doses of methadone or buprenorphine can keep their jobs, avoid crime and violence, and reduce their exposure to HIV and Hepatitis C by stopping or reducing injection drug use and drug-related high risk sexual behavior. Naltrexone is a long-acting opioid antagonist with few side effects. It is usually prescribed in outpatient medical conditions. Naltrexone blocks the euphoric effects of alcohol and opiates. Naltrexone cuts relapse risk during the first 3 months by about 36%. However, it is far less effective in helping patients maintain abstinence or retaining them in the drug-treatment system (retention rates average 12% at 90 days for naltrexone, average 57% at 90 days for buprenorphine, average 61% at 90 days for methadone).
This is an ongoing debate in the medical community, but it is generally agreed that there is no one cause for the development of addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, contributing factors may include a genetic predisposition to develop addictive tendencies, an environment that is permissive of drug abuse, access to illicit substances, and certain developmental issues. The existence of a Dual Diagnosis is one of the biggest risk factors for the development of addiction. Heroin Withdrawal | First Week In