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The Addiction Recovery Process: How to Beat an Addiction

The addiction recovery process is complicated by the presence of both physical and behavioral addictions. There are also a wide number of treatment centers and many theories about physical addiction recovery and many more about behavioral recovery. For example, the US government's publication Theories on Drug Abuse: Selected Contemporary Theories cites 43 different theories about chemical addiction and 15 different treatment protocols.

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Yet, the addiction recovery process for physical and behavioral addiction has similarities that make it possible to better understand and navigate the process. The common goals of all addiction treatment recovery processes are to educate sufferers about their addiction and to prepare the addict to live a life of abstinence. Ideally, they should be able to return to society as a productive member armed with knowledge about the addiction and have a support network that will stay intact after the program has been completed.

All addictions, physical and behavioral, are lifelong diseases that require aftercare, which is a common thread of the addiction recovery process. Another shared component of many behavioral and physical addictions is the presence of a contributing psychological component. The existence of this underlying complication underscores the need for a complete physical and psychological examination, another common thread in addiction recovery.

Common Physical Addictions:

  • Alcohol
  • Drugs
  • Smoking
  • Eating disorders (bulimia, anorexia)
  • Caffeine

Common Behavioral Addictions:

  • Gambling
  • Exercise
  • Workaholic
  • Sex
  • Pornography
  • Violence

Steps of the Addiction Recovery Process

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that there is no uniform treatment for any addiction. In contrast to the adage that the addict must hit rock bottom before achieving recovery success, psychologists and physicians agree that the addict need not agree to treatment or be at rock bottom to succeed.

All addictions, affect the way the brain functions. In cases of dual diagnoses, several therapies can coincide during treatment and may require additional aftercare upon completion of the program. Effective treatment must address all areas of the addict's life and environment.

The following steps are identified by the University of Indiana as therapies included in addiction recovery processes:

  • Treatment protocols are determined after a psychological and physical examination and review of the patient's history.
  • Prescription medicines may be used to ease symptoms of the addiction.
  • Prescriptions administered during treatment will be carefully monitored.
  • The treatment protocol will address all aspects of the addict's life and is not confined to just the addiction itself.
  • Existing psychological disorders will be addressed during the addition treatment.
  • The addiction recovery process will include extensive education about the addiction including causes, symptoms and signs of the addiction.
  • Inpatient addiction treatment centers remove patients from their normal environment.
  • Outpatient addiction treatment centers permit patients to reside in their current environment.
  • Certain addictions and certain treatment protocols deny contact with the addict by family members and friends during treatment.
  • A discharge plan will be developed by the treatment center for the patient upon completion of the program.
  • Aftercare will be one element in the discharge plan.

Addiction Treatment Intake Commonalities

  • Step One is always conducted by a counselor at the treatment center.
  • This interview will be used to determine the diagnostic tests that will be conducted.
  • The severity of the addiction will be assessed after a review of the patient's medical records, physical examination and psychological profile.
  • A financial review will advise the patient of all financial support, insurance benefits and financial payment options available to the patient. A payment plan for services will be initiated.
  • The rules of conduct for the treatment center will be described to the patient and any questions will be answered.
  • A treatment protocol will be established after this review and the results of the test are compiled. Each treatment protocol will be designed to best help the addict achieve success and abstinence.
  • In cases where detoxification and withdrawal are necessary, professional supervision will be used.
  • In cases where strong withdrawal symptoms persist, prescription medicines may be used to ease symptoms. If medications are used, they will be administered by a qualified caregiver.
  • The patient's treatment protocol will be reviewed with and explained to the patient.
  • Any contributing psychological conditions will be identified and the therapies for those conditions will be discussed.
  • All counseling therapies will be described to the patient. These therapies might include faith-based counseling, holistic therapies, fitness training, individual counseling, group counseling, family counseling, music therapies and others.
  • Periodic evaluations of the patient's progress will be reviewed and discussed.
  • As the patient nears completion of the addiction recovery treatment, the discharge plan of action will be reviewed and discussed. A final review will take place just prior to discharge.
  • Upon discharge, the patient will activate the discharge plan and enroll in a recommended aftercare program with a referral from the addiction treatment recovery center.

An addiction recovery treatment program can seem intimidating. But, remember that several characteristics of addiction are imposing, namely that untreated addiction symptoms will only worsen and the nature of addiction is that of a lifelong disease.

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