Addictions Rehab – Does The Nature Of The Addiction Matter?

There are many addictions catered for by addictions rehabs

addictions and bad habits cartoon

It would be quite rare to go into any rehab and find that everyone there is suffering from the same addiction. Addictions are many and varied: there is now easy access to online prescription drugs and opiates which people get addicted to; the fight against drug dealers is one sided and they are winning so drugs are easily available; and gambling is now possible 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  The only residential rehab clinic that might contain everyone with the same addiction would be an eating disorders unit which would specialise in helping people with just an eating disorder.

Addiction treatment and mental health

This is where the statement “one method does not help everyone, as we are all different,” falls flat.  95% of UK addiction rehabs will use the 12 Step modality to help all addictions.  Apart from the addiction everyone will have a degree of other mental health issues.  These could be caused by the addiction or have been present before the person became addicted to a substance. Ultimately, though, any mental health issue will only progress over time with the addiction making it worse. 

For some, simply stopping using the drug of their choice will cause their depressive episodes to lift. For others, by stopping, for example drinking alcohol, their medication prescribed by their GP will actually work or they find that the depression was caused by the alcohol consumption (alcohol itself is a depressant).  There seems currently to be an unprecedented amount of people who arrive at The Haynes Clinic who have been prescribed anti-depressants by their GP.  They have an alcohol addiction which totally nullifies the effect of the medication and they have become more depressed as they think they are taking medication to improve their mood but in fact, it has the reverse effect and they become even more depressed and often have suicidal thoughts.  There will also be a percentage of people who have suffered trauma or abuse in their childhood and have turned to using alcohol or other drugs to mask the past and have again become addicted to their drug of choice.

The drug of choice has become the main problem with anyone with an addiction. Some people believe if they can sort out, through therapy sessions, the reason why they started drinking alcohol (for example) they will be all right to drink alcohol again.  This is not the case and anyone with an addiction should work towards accepting that they need help as they can’t control their intake themselves.  In fact abstinence is the key with any addiction.

Residential addiction rehab provides the most immediate and effective addiction treatment

The options for that help have become more limited and these days it would be extremely unusual to be admitted to a hospital for a detox as usually the hospital will only, at most, rehydrate you and then discharge you from treatment within 24 hours.  Your GP is unable to offer any form of home detox as the limit of medication is, due to health and safety regulations, quite low and the danger could be someone continuing drinking as the prescribed medication is not stopping the withdrawal symptoms.  Generally, there is a time for anyone with an addiction when they admit defeat, recognise fully the extent of damage their addiction is impacting on their, health, social life, work, financial and relationships that they decide that they want help. The issue is that at that time there is a small “window” before that individual changes their mind and it could be months before they decide they want help again. The only option is restricted to a residential addictions treatment unit.

How do I decide which residential addictions rehab to choose?

There is unbelievably no guide to helping someone choose a residential addictions clinic. People generally have to go on either recommendations from people that they know who have also been in to treatment, or what they can ascertain from the clinic’s website or from the report compiled by the national agency, the Care Quality Commission, who regularly inspect every addictions treatment centre. The CQC highlight any changes that need to be made in how they operate on a day to day basis.   Most addictions treatment units will allow for a visit and an assessment of the individual’s condition and it is at this time that a decision can be made if the family feel the clinic and the price for treatment is suitable.  Generally, the recommended treatment period is 28 days. At The Haynes Clinic, people can come for a minimum period of 14 days if they have financial constraints or struggle to get the time off work.  Any thing less than a 14 day residential admission will usually lead to a relapse back to the old addictive behaviour.  For guidance, a residential alcohol detox takes 7 days, an residential opiate detox will take 14 days and a benzodiazepine detox up to 6 weeks but can be longer. 

Daily addiction therapy

In general, as soon as someone has started their detox they should be able to participate in the daily structured therapy programme.  This is probably the most important facet of treatment – in order to understand what needs to happen on leaving treatment and to help with the changes that need to be made to our addictive thinking and behaviour. 

The daily addictions therapy is centred on our behaviour before we came in to treatment and involves recognising that, if we have other problems in our life, then whilst we have an active addiction all our other problems will never be resolved.  Similarly, if we have had trauma in our life and have used alcohol or other drugs, we need to concentrate on Recovery from our addiction. This is before we start to go and have therapy concerning the trauma. If we have therapy too early, then the only coping mechanism we have to cope with the raised feelings from therapy would lead us to a relapse. This is why it is important, when we leave treatment, to concentrate on continuing with a daily programme of Recovery and acknowledge the positive changes that start occurring in our life.  Some clinics or rehabs will offer ongoing Aftercare which is continuing group support, one day a week, for up to a year that is included within the cost of a residential 28 day treatment programme.

Although there is a cost for residential addiction treatment, this varies from clinic to clinic. It can also depend on what is being offered: some clinics offer single or shared accommodation, for example. If everyone were to be admitted with an open mind and a willingness to change their thinking and behaviour, it is the proven way for anyone to get their life back.