Addiction Rehab: does it provide a ‘cure’?

Everyone can recover from addiction

If a family member or loved one makes a telephone enquiry to The Haynes Clinic on behalf of someone with an addiction, we will often get asked “what is your success rate?”. The simple answer to that would be 100% if everyone that came through our 28 day residential addiction treatment programme carried out the mental and physical changes that they were recommended to make to their behaviour and thinking and continued with this once back at home and in their work environment.

However, the 12 Step programme is a simple programme for overcomplicated people and while the majority of people with an addiction choose to make the recommended changes, others still feel that it is all about will power and will set about their Recovery by reverting back to “doing it their own way”.  In these instances, without fail they will eventually – usually quickly – relapse back into the old addictive behaviour. 

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Addiction rehab itself does not provide a magic cure

Actually just going into an addiction rehab clinic is not the answer though it is an important first step. There is no magic wand that magically makes us better after being in treatment for 28 days and, if anything, going into treatment  should be viewed as the beginning of a journey that we can continue on for as long as we choose.  However, the first step for many is the need to safely stop using their drug of choice and that will usually require a medically assisted detox from that drug which will help with stopping using it and the subsequent withdrawal symptoms.

Addiction rehab is usually the only way to get a safe, quick and easily available detox

An alcohol rehab or drug treatment clinic is really the only option for immediate treatment if an individual wants or needs a medicated detox to come off alcohol or drugs.  A GP will no longer prescribe a full home detox as the amount of medication they can prescribe for use within a home environment is far less than can be prescribed in a residential treatment setting.  Hence, a home detox usually leads to a continuation of drinking or using as the withdrawal symptoms are too strong, resulting in a relapse back to drinking. In addition, the use of the prescribed medication (which is usually a benzodiazepine), together with alcohol can result  in a dangerous concoction. It is partly for this reason that doctors can no longer prescribe the dose of medication usually needed for a detox.  Hospitals are now extremely reluctant to admit anyone with a drug or alcohol problem and after sitting in A and E for hours, the medical staff may choose to hydrate you but will not keep you there for usually more than 24 hours.  

What do I look for in an addiction rehab clinic?

How do we then choose an addiction rehab clinic that will meet our needs?  The choice of residential alcohol rehab or drug detox clinic has reduced following the Covid pandemic. Rising costs and increasing demands from health and safety legislation and CQC requirements has forced many establishments to close. Clinics also need to have a doctor available to them to check on the suitability for a client in terms of their physical and mental health and to prescribe any medical detox. Without an available doctor, a clinic cannot operate.  There are also some parts of the country that do not have a nearby residential addiction rehab. If you live in one of these parts (usually more remote and rural) and want to be admitted to a residential addiction unit to get help for your addiction then you will have to travel maybe for up to two hours from your home address to get to one.

What is important with any clinic is that they are able to offer a full daily structured therapy programme that is generally in line with the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Step programme. In fact about 95 % of all addiction treatment centres that treat addictions in the UK use this modality. It has a long proven record to help people and the programme has been adopted to help others with drug, gambling, eating and drug addictions.  Whilst in residential addiction treatment it is important to get an understanding of the 12 Steps and to get an introduction to respective support groups such as AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), CA (Cocaine Anonymous) or NA (Narcotics Anonymous).  By going with others in your rehab therapy group who are in treatment at the same time as you, it helps with understanding that it will also be important to regularly attend similar meetings  close to our home address on a weekly basis. 

Every addictions rehab or detox clinic is rated by the Care Quality Commission or CQC and a report on each is available on line for anyone to access and read.  The CQC has the power to close a clinic if it does not maintain certain standards and it is there to ensure “best practice” in terms of health and safety for anyone using the clinic’s services. Reviews can also be left on a clinic’s website by people who have attended that clinic but sadly, as with all reviews, some can be very personal and not at all a true reflection on the clinic or staff and therefore can not be regarded as being reliable. However, there is now becoming more of a “word of mouth” recommendation between people, whereby those with an addiction, who are now in recovery, are being asked where they went for treatment. 

How long do I need to be in an addictions rehab clinic?

There is a cost for residential addiction treatment and this will vary depending on what is being offered.  The recommended residential period is 28 days but possibly due to financial constraints or even someone taking time off work then the other option would be for 14 days. However there are more risks of relapse if this option is taken: there will be a diminished understanding of the 12 Step programme and less time away from the triggers of a home environment. 

Certain clinics, such as The Haynes Clinic do not offer a 7 day admission for just an alcohol detox as inevitably it is just not long enough and a relapse is inevitable.  Breaking the addictive cycle within a safe environment is critical. People will experience a roller coaster of emotions which will be processed within a group setting. They will learn that these emotions can be managed and do not need to be supressed by alcohol or other drugs.

Aftercare is an important part of staying clean and sober

Certain addiction rehabs or detox clinics will offer ongoing Aftercare, for those who have completed 28 days, which is a day a week of ongoing support and help either at the clinic or in some cases via Zoom meetings for up to a year at no extra cost.  This can be critical. Just going into treatment is not “the fix”, it is a continuing work in progress.

You need an open mind to get well

It is important for anyone going into an addictions rehab to go in with an open mind and be accepting that our previous ways of trying to control our addiction did not work. We need to be willing to accept that others can now help us with the changes that we need to make in  order to get our life back