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Rehab Protocols

Addiction Rehab Protocols

Chemical dependency is a complex, multi-dimensional disease characterized by uncontrollable cravings, compulsive pursuit of re-supply and, in many cases, accompanying psychological conditions. Chemical dependency can begin as an innocent misuse of prescription drugs, or abuse of a "party drug" and very quickly turn into a compulsive addiction.

Once the brain experiences the euphoria of these drugs, it wants to experience the sensation over and over again. As the individual's tolerance increases, the need for re-supply becomes uncontrollable despite denial by the dependent individual.

Substance addiction has a pervasive effect on the brain. In fact, addiction is a brain disease. Prolonged exposure to drugs affects the brain's sensors, reward and motivation cells, learning and memory functions and inhibits the individual's control and behavior. And, these effects happen quickly. What may have started as an innocent excursion can result in chemical dependency that is a life-changing addiction.

Chemical dependency is a chronic disease that cannot be cured but can be treated. Because the addict stops taking drugs, the addiction does not end. Addiction is a lifelong disease with a high probability of relapse that requires treatment in stages.

The 10 stages of drug addiction treatment are:

  • 1) Supervised Detoxification – Often accompanied by administration of prescription medications to ease symptoms.
  • 2) Supervised Withdrawal – Monitored by a medical team and also can be managed with prescription medications to ease symptoms.
  • 3) Education – Patients learn about their addiction, signs, symptoms, causes and effects.
  • 4) Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – Patients learn coping skills, how to modify attitudes and implement healthy lifestyle choices.
  • 5) Individual and Group Therapy – Patients engage in one-on-one discussions with therapists as well as group therapy. The premise of group therapy is that sharing experiences can help enlighten all participants.
  • 6) Motivational Interviewing – Meetings designed to capitalize on the individual's progress toward changing behavioral patterns.
  • 7) Family Therapy – A multi-dimensional therapy especially helpful with teen addicts and their parents but which can also be deployed to family members of adult patients.
  • 8) Contingency Management – The use of positive reinforcement to encourage abstinence.
  • 9) Discharge Plan – Prior to discharge, the treatment team will meet with the patient and review the discharge plan and how the patient will address returning to the real world.
  • 10) Relapse Prevention – Aftercare is a large portion of the discharge plan. Patients will enroll and participate in any number of aftercare clinics and will be referred by the treatment center.

The Need for Treatment

There is an overwhelming need for chemical dependency treatment in the United States. The National Survey on Drug Abuse indicates that more than 20 million Americans who require treatment for substance abuse including drugs and alcohol are not in rehabilitation programs. The cost of drug and alcohol addiction is a burden on taxpayers, the legal system and the healthcare industry.

One of the greatest misunderstandings about chemical dependency therapy is that the addicts must hit rock bottom before treatment can work. Statistics now bear out that the chemically dependent sufferer does not have to hit rock bottom or even be a willing participant to experience successful treatment.

This fact is borne out by the way the legal system now requires treatment for repeat offenders. Court-ordered treatment and follow-up has become a mainstay of the legal system. In many cases, this means institutionalized care, whether the offender is ready, willing or able or not. Failure to comply with the court order for treatment is a serious offense that usually results in sentencing and time in jail.

Types of Addiction Treatment Centers

  • Residential Treatment – Patients at residential treatment centers live and receive treatment in a residential facility along with other addicts. Treatment can last from 30 days to one year. At discharge, the patient will be referred to an aftercare program.
  • Outpatient Clinics – Patients at outpatient clinics usually are hospitalized for detoxification and withdrawal stages and then released to and outpatient program that meets regularly several times a week. Treatment includes regular testing, counseling, education, cognitive behavior therapy and more. The advantage of this treatment is that the patient can usually continue school or work, but it does present challenges because the patient is in the environment that led to addiction.
  • Faith-based Centers – Faith-based centers have different treatment protocols depending upon the religion.
  • Same Sex, Gay and Lesbian Treatment Centers – Same sex and gay and lesbian treatment centers are designed to provide a comfortable environment for persons who may only be comfortable with persons of a specific sexual persuasion.
  • Teen Chemical Dependency Treatment – These centers concentrate on teens and are designed to ensure that persons of similar ages and interests receive and participate in treatment with their peers.

The Core Principles of Effective Drug/Alcohol Addiction Treatment

While the 12-step treatment program is the staple of the addiction therapy, many centers either use variations of the protocol or have their own treatment programs. Regardless, the basic principles of chemical dependency treatment remain the same:

  • Addiction is a complex but treatable brain disease that affects brain function and the patient's behavior.
  • Each patient must be treated individually with an individual protocol.
  • Treatment must be easily accessible.
  • Treatment must address many physical and psychological needs of the patient.
  • Patients must receive treatment for sufficient time.
  • Individual and group counseling should be included.
  • Medications can help ease the pain of detoxification and withdrawal.
  • An individual's treatment and progress must be assessed continually and modified as necessary.
  • Chemically dependent patients must be evaluated for other mental disorders.
  • Detection of a co-occurring psychological disorder is called dual diagnosis and requires coinciding treatment.
  • Detoxification is the first stage of addiction treatment and is not a standalone treatment for chemical abuse.
  • Treatment need not be voluntary in order to be effective.
  • Drug use during treatment must be monitored continuously as relapse can occur at any time.
  • Treatment programs will assess patients for the presence of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases.
  • Education will include awareness about targeted risk–reduction counseling to help patients modify or change behaviors that place them at risk of contracting or spreading infectious diseases.

When it comes to substance abuse and addiction, friends, family and co-workers who are concerned with an individual's chemical dependency should consider professional intervention as an important and first step along the road to recovery.

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