What Happens at Drug Rehab?
The process may differ somewhat from drug rehab to drug rehab, but generally those that use evidence-based practices use this approach:
1. Physical Assessment: When you start drug rehab, a physician will each spend some time with you to assess your addiction and develop a detox plan. The detox plan will be based on the types of drugs you were using, so it is critical that you are honest with the physician about every drug you have taken recently.
2. Psychological Assessment: A psychiatrist, preferably one who specializes in addiction, will assess you for issues such as anxiety, depression, bipolar, or other emotional or psychological issues. The first assessment is not considered a “final” one, because the fact you are still under the influence of drugs may color the picture significantly. For example, some people may feel depressed at this point, but once they are completely free of drugs, the depression lifts.
3. Detox: This part of drug rehab is often the one people fear most. However, top-notch rehabs are very experienced in developing a treatment plan for detoxification that will be as comfortable as possible. They will often use medications to ease symptoms of withdrawal, such as Suboxone or Valium. The best rehabs will only use these substitutes for a short period of time to facilitate withdrawal, the goal being complete freedom from mood-altering drugs.
4. Therapy: The evidence shows that group peer therapy is still the most effective form of treatment for drug addiction. Although individual therapy is also important, there is no compelling evidence that more individual and less group therapy is effective. In fact, the opposite is true. By connecting with others who have your same impulses and compulsions, you develop strategies to remain free of drugs and alcohol.
5. Physical Fitness: Most drug rehabs today understand that they must address not just the physical addiction to drugs, but the health of the body, mind, and spirit. Physical exercise is an important part of the healing process. For one thing, exercise triggers endorphins, the body’s natural chemicals that make you feel good. It is critical that you develop ways to feel good without drugs or alcohol, and exercise is a healthy way to do that.
6. Nutritional Counseling: Diet can impact how you feel in recovery. Too many processed carbs make you feel sluggish. Too much sugar can mean mood swings. Nutrition is critical to maintaining an even keel in early recovery.
7. Alternative Approaches: Many rehab centers offer alternative therapies as well while you are in treatment. Acupuncture has been shown to be a highly effective pain management treatment, and is very popular among recovering addicts who have chronic pain. Meditation, massage, yoga, and equine therapy are some other modalities used in quality rehabs.
8. Aftercare Planning: What do you do when you leave the safety of the rehab? How do you avoid triggers – people places and things that might lead you back to drugs or alcohol? How do you develop a support network at home? What do you do if the impulse to use drugs becomes overwhelming? These questions should be addressed as part of your aftercare planning. The plan should include specific strategies and even people to contact when you return home.
9. Discharge: You have completed treatment and you are at least 30 days free of drugs and alcohol. Discharge day can be exhilarating, joyous, and terrifying. Follow your aftercare plan and the advice of your rehab therapist and avoid triggers to have the best chance of long-term recovery.