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Alcohol Or Drug Addiction?
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Should I Look For Rehab, Or Just Detox?
This is an important question for many, and highly depends on where you are, in your personal addiction recovery journey.
There are several possible scenarios:
- You've detoxed (and relapsed) several times before
In this case, a full rehab program is almost always preferable.
At the beginning of the addiction recovery journey, many start out with limited funding, and as such seek the minimum treatment period available - usually meaning - detox only.
Whilst this suits financially at the time, it doesn't always provide longer term results.
Many end up spending more money on a series of repeated detoxes, than they would have simply paying once for a rehab program initially.
Consider your relapse history and history of alcohol abuse. Have you mixed substances in the past? Have you had periods of genuine sobriety? (be honest).
Sometimes this is seen in those who repeatedly detox because they find the emotional work too uncomfortable - but there is no easy solution for this.
In addiction recovery more than many other fields, the saying "the only way out, is through", applies.
- You've previously completed a full rehab program, had a brief recent relapse, and want to get back on track.
This is usually a much better candidate for a shorter stay detox.
While some clinics insist on completing a full program each time, there may be some who would consider a shorter admission on the basis of good previous engagement and motivation in a rehab and therapy program, and strong underlying motivation for change that's positive (not just negative).
- This is your first time in treatment
Like the above, consider carefully, before committing, what your support network is like. Consider how you react under stress. Consider any traumas that may have contributed to your addiction developing (that are unresolved).
Think about how you may react once detoxed.
Will you be over-confident, and relapse due to complacency?
Or will you engage with the supports you have, to help you stay on track, when stress happens in life?
Most will do better from a fully structured comprehensive alcohol/drug therapy care program that dovetails with detox, and provides a smooth transition from one to the other.
- You have practical commitments that are inescapable, and you need to detox at home
In most cases, we advise against this. Attempting to detox in and around the addiction triggers that got you there in the first place, is never wise.
Better to make practical arrangements in advance, before admitting to treatment. This way, you get to make emotional gains and keep them, as opposed to making therapy gains one day, then relapsing the next, simply due to environmental triggers around you.
6 Questions To Ask About Alcohol Rehab
How personalised is the program?
Typically, the more expensive clinics are more likely to offer more personalisation, since, as you can imagine, this is resource intensive.
As with many things in life, it will most often be a case of, you get what you pay for.
Nevertheless, some very careful homework can possibly unearth a provider who practices very good management, and has (somewhat) systematised the process of therapeutic delivery, such that they can deliver a higher level of personalisation at a reasonable price point.
What you're looking for here, at the least, is a personally assigned case manager, who'll make sure you're on track during treatment.
Some are happy to pay a bit more to get one-to-one therapy in a rehab clinic, however this has advantages and disadvantages that aren't immediately obvious.
In some cases, individualised therapy is appropriate, especially where there is sensitive trauma work to be done.
In other cases, a group setting can actually provide more therapeutic help, since there are more peers on-hand to provide differing perspectives, beyond the one therapist you may be engaged with.
Try to find a healthy mix here, balancing financial constraints with therapeutic preferences, and be prepared to compromise.
Any shortfalls you perceive in treatment, can usually be rebalanced once clinic time has been completed, by following up with further work during aftercare.
Does the program include detox?
You're trying here to weed out providers that offer a very basic, budget package, and don't offer all the reasonable options within one package.
This will help establish exactly what addiction treatment you're paying for, and if there are options to look at detox separately.
Do you offer standalone detox options?
Similar to the previous question, but you're looking for something different here. Regardless of whether the answer is Yes or No, notice how willing or enthusiastic the provider is about standalone detox.
Most reputable professionals in the field know that offering repeated standalone detoxes, especially to those with a history of relapse in the past, could be perceived as somewhat unethical.
Does the provider ask about your history with alcohol or drugs?
Do they ask questions about triggers, and previous relapses?
Are they showing concern about your long term recovery, not just initial detox?
The questions a treatment centre asks of you will reveal much about how they approach treatment, their values, and how invested they are in seeing you do better, long after detox.
What happens if I leave early?
An obvious financial question, but in the hurry involved in admitting to treatment initially, one that can be easily missed.
Is there any refund at all, even partial, if you leave a clinic early? If so, how much? Under what conditions?
What if I'm asked to leave instead of self-discharging?
Asking a few clear questions at this stage can separate the professional providers from those more interested in purely business goals.
What is the therapeutic treatment program?
You'll be asking about the therapy program of course, but doing so, using this open-ended question will be more productive than focussing on only one treatment approach.
Using this approach, you're more likely to hear how they approach treatment, what their preferred modality is, and how they work with folks who don't gel with (e.g.) the 12 step program.
Generally, it's too late to change your mind once you've detoxed in the clinic, and only then found out they offer a program that's not on your list.
Ask the question before admission to ensure a smooth transition from detox to therapy work.
Are the therapists specialists in addiction?
Since many treatment centres are privately run, they may employ any therapists they choose.
You want to be careful to ensure that they are properly qualified, and specialists in addiction. Working with someone who is a general counsellor, will be far less effective, and your level of insight into your own addiction psychology will be far more general, meaning less insights to work with, when generating a plan for aftercare.
Getting addiction specialists, with significant experience, can mean the difference between identifying core issues of addiction, and leaving feeling no further forward.
Alcohol Treatment Options - Public .v. Private
Alcohol addiction is sadly underserved as a need in most public healthcare settings.
The truth of course, is not that public healthcare don't want to help, it's an issue of resources.
Local budgets are stretched, and in some cases, addiction is wrongly perceived as a self-inflicted problem (although you and I know better).
Whilst the public sector has some undoubtedly outstanding mental health professionals, our callers highlight to us, the lack of a joined-up approach, and connected thinking, to provide an end-to-end level of care, that's missing.
Complete end-to-end care from point of crisis to long term recovery is quite a feat of course, and requires a high level of continuity of care between different professionals, that's hard to achieve, in a non-residential setting.
Efficacy of treatment is an issue too. A very well structured program in an out-patient setting could work well for many, yet others are triggered into addiction again, on the way home from a perfectly good therapeutic session.
Those struggling with addiction are sensitive in multiple ways and need the intensive care levels that usually, only the private sector can provide.
As it is only in these types of enclosed and supervised environment, with multiple specialists working together, that a truly connected and well considered plan of care can be followed through upon.
For most, the solution is something of a half-way house - initial primary care in a private clinic to deal with the immediacy of physical and chemical alcohol or substance detoxification, followed by therapeutic care completed both residentially, and later, on an out-patient basis.
It's possible to spend too long in a fully supervised care environment such that we become dependent upon the support provided there, instead of learning our independence again.
Yet at the same time, when we're in a place of feeling truly broken, and physically drained, it is only a primary care clinic with fully supervised detox that can help.
The difference is that such facilities are focussed only on addiction care and nothing else.
Purely the volume of client through-put each day, gives these particular professionals the greater depth of experience and understanding, that is difficult to obtain from other healthcare environments.
Addiction specialists know what to expect, have seen it many thousands of times, and hence can put you at ease more than others.
Indeed in many cases the support staff at these private clinics are in addiction recovery personally, and walk the talk.
This can mean the difference between feeling a true connection with someone who is trying to assist in your journey, as opposed to feeling like part of a process and passed from pillar to post.
It can make a huge difference to your healing experience, and therefore, your future sobriety.
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Abbeycare are providers of residential alcohol care centres in the UK. They offer private detox and rehabilitation programmes with specialist input for drug and alcohol addiction.
We offer treatment options provided by a network of clinics, based on your needs. Long term addiction recovery, after you leave the clinic, will depend on multiple factors, and permanent sobriety cannot be guaranteed.