Why addiction rehab is necessary and what it can achieve

What is addiction?

Addiction can be described as not having control over doing, taking or using something to the point where it becomes harmful and destructive in all life’s areas.  At The Haynes Clinic, we often have a relative describe someone’s situation as having “reached rock bottom.” 

It is much more rare to have the person with the problem say “I realise I have a problem, and I want help before it gets worse.” This is simply because the person with the addiction does not want to accept that they do not have the will-power to stop doing what they are doing or reduce it to a manageable level. This denial and mindset are a common trait for people with alcohol, drugs, gambling, eating, sex problems etc. 

Sadly, with all addictions the vast majority of people will have to get to a point of serious loss before they start to realise that their way of thinking will need to change in order to change the addictive behaviour and that they need help, from others, to understand how to do that.

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What help is available on the NHS?

However, help is not always easy to find. It can be a very frustrating exercise for the friends and family members who are trying to research a way forward when their loved one finally agrees that there is a problem that they can’t resolve on their own and they are finally wanting to act quickly.

For drug users, the NHS drug and alcohol teams will now generally only help if there is an opiate addiction such as heroin. They will provide clean needles and, if appropriate, a heroin substitute called Methadone. They may offer a slim possibility of an opiate detox at some time in the future. 

Each county throughout the UK has a drug and alcohol team. However although the financial budget is different in each county, it is generally low and not enough to cater for the ever-increasing addiction problem. Thus, the extent of what they can offer is normally very limited.

It is an equally long process for anyone with an alcohol addiction to be offered a detox by the same service. So, anyone making enquiries can feel frustrated that there is not a chance of any immediate help and that they must continue suffering by continuing with their addiction, on a daily basis, with no immediate help in sight.

What addiction help is available quickly?

However, a medicated alcohol detox or a detox for drugs is just the tip of the iceberg.  In order to remain abstinent from your drug of choice or refrain from placing that next bet or vomiting your last meal you need to be able to spend time in a place of safety in which your addiction treatment can be overseen, on a daily basis, by qualified professionals within a residential rehab environment. I am talking about being admitted to an addiction rehab or residential addiction clinic that is specifically qualified in helping people with addictions.   

For example, at The Haynes Clinic, we are a well-known clinic and are reasonably full most of the time but as it is a rolling programme and people are being admitted and discharged after usually 28 days, then we normally have a bed available within a 24-hour period.  This is key, as when someone with an addiction actually asks for help it is so important that they are able to get that help as soon as is possible.  The alternative is that they are suffering for potentially many months longer when they could have been starting on the road to Recovery.

12 Step Treatment For Addiction

99% of clinics in the UK base their treatment on the original 12 Step AA programme so whatever is the addiction then the treatment programme is the same. The only difference is changing the word to be appropriate for the addiction that you would be in treatment for. For example, in the first Step the wording is “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable”. If we were in treatment for a Gambling addiction, we would change the word alcohol to gambling.

The Importance of Aftercare

People will try and research an addiction rehab clinic close to where they live and all clinics in the UK must have a record of inspection by the Care Quality Commission, an independent regulator, before they can legally operate. The report of the respective inspection can be found on the internet. They all vary, and it is important to find out what they are offering in terms of a daily structured addiction treatment programme, even down to do they have single occupancy bedrooms. 

One key question to ask is if they offer ongoing Aftercare where there is at least one day a week ongoing support for all those who have completed at least a 28-day residential addiction treatment programme. At The Haynes Clinic attendance at Aftercare is free for a year and the ongoing support and care is vital to helping people remain on the road to Recovery.  If anyone does not live nearby we offer Aftercare in the form of weekly Zoom meetings.

Addiction Rehab Treatment is Confidential

When anyone is admitted to a clinic, they will come under the care of the doctor attached to that clinic.  Sometimes, there may be an assessment preadmission but usually the doctor will do a medical assessment at the point of admission. Because you are under the care of the rehab’s doctor then your medical notes for your admission will be kept at the clinic and your own GP will not be notified of your being in treatment, unless requested by you. This basically means that your general medical notes will not be affected by an admission.   

How long is a detox?

The doctor will admit you for treatment and will prescribe any required medication for a detox.  An alcohol detox usually takes 9 – 10 days and an opiate detox takes a similar length of time. A benzodiazepine detox can possibly take as long as six weeks, depending on the length and amount of use. A detox should not affect your ability to participate fully in the daily addiction treatment programme as the medication is only prescribed to help with the side effects and withdrawal symptoms of coming off certain substances.  

How long is a full addiction treatment programme?

28 days is the normal and recognised time to be within a primary residential addiction treatment programme. However, due to financial or work constraints this may have to be reduced to 14 days. Sadly, by reducing the time in treatment it does heighten the possibility of relapsing back into old addictive thinking and behaviour.  

It is important to be in a place of safety for as long as possible to break the addictive cycle.  There is a daily structured group therapy programme and also written work around our understanding of the 12 Step process. This is to help with understanding the need to find the humility to accept that we will need ongoing help from others. Also during treatment there will be attendance at 12 Step support groups, AA, NA, CA for example, to understand how these can help us and how we will need to be attending these when we leave treatment.

It would be common to be in treatment with others who are getting help for similar or different addictions and it is very common for a group to form a strong bond.  This is instrumental in further breaking down the denial around the extent that our addictive behaviour has affected all our life areas before we sought help.  Also, whatever is our addiction it has led us down similar destructive paths.

Addiction rehabs are not a magic wand but for many they are the start to a life free from the constraints of addiction and the first steps on a road to happiness and Recovery.