Detox is Just the Beginning
While detox, on the surface, can seem like the most difficult part of recovery, it is just the physical manifestation of a much larger challenge. The psychology behind addiction can be much more daunting to overcome. While detox is the critical first step, much more work is required once the chemicals have left the system. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse the relapse rate without proper relapse prevention treatment sits around 40 to 60%. With proper aftercare and psychological treatment, the relapse rate drops to 25 to 40% and continues to decline the longer a person stays sober.
Detox can rid your body of all the chemicals it has become dependent on, in a safe and healthy environment. It is set up to make you as comfortable as possible and as safe as possible. Your body is rewiring itself to live without substances and finding a new version of normal, a healthy version of normal.
After detox, you must rewire your brain. Chemical dependency not only changes how your brain processes pleasure and needs but you develop habits that exist around your addiction. These habits cannot be broken overnight. You have to take one step at a time to learn how to be you without alcohol or drugs. This means entering your life, participating in activities that once included substances without using. This landscape is filled with landmines and triggers. Without the proper support system, it can be difficult to be successful.
The Recovery Continuum of Care
After detox, treatment can begin. The highest level of treatment short of hospitalization is Residential Treatment. This is where the patient lives on-site with others in recovery. There is limited access to triggers and the environment is very structured. This safe environment helps get the patient through the first 28 days of sobriety. Most psychologists believe it takes at least 21 days to change a habit; Residential treatment helps jump-start the process by reducing temptation.
A level down from Residential Treatment are PHPs (Partial Hospitalization Programs). In these programs, you attend therapy pretty much full time but live away from the facility in a group setting. While still monitored, you have more free time in the evenings.
Next is Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP). This involves individual and group sessions offering motivational topics, psychotherapy, coping tools and even career counseling. It is set up to give a person structure during the recovery process and lets you begin to reintegrate back into society. This can be particularly valuable if the patient does not have a current job or has an excessive amount of free time.
IOP can provide a safe living environment with limited temptation and a structured evening plan. This type of situation is good for those who have a job or school, so the daytime is not as much of a problem as the night. Structured therapy and groups are a part of every evening to allow the patient to process any triggers he experienced throughout the day and find the best coping mechanisms.
Sober Living is often the final step. In a sober living house, a patient can typically come and go as they please. Random alcohol or drug tests do occur, but it should be a situation close to living at home. Here a patient will find them self surrounded by those going through the same struggles and find support in being able to talk about the challenges of daily living. Both IOP and Sober Living help give the client time to form new social groups, new outlets for energy and even new habits when participating in activities that used to include substances.