It can be hard to understand what makes so many people develop an addiction to drugs and alcohol. Most people who do not struggle with any type of addiction simply consider it an issue of a weak will or lack of determination. The fact of the matter is that addiction has very close ties to mental illness that have been well-established through experience, research and new scientific and medical understanding of how the brain works. The substance abuse rehabilitation concept of treating addiction as well as the underlying mental issues is called a dual diagnosis.
Drug and alcohol treatment centers like our own are intent on treating both sides of the addictive equation. Most, if not all, of our clients have either had mental or psychological issues before they began abusing substances or they developed them while they were using. When substance abuse treatments are brought into harmony with mental health practices, there is a greater chance of recovery.
What is Self Medication?
Self medication is a human behavior that can be both a bad and a good thing. When you have a headache and you’re seeking relief from the discomfort, you might go to the pharmacy and buy some pain reliever such as aspirin or Tylenol. This is a form of self medication. If you know that it’s getting close to winter time and you’re more than likely at risk of catching a cold, you might consider taking taking vitamin C as a way of strengthening your immune system. This is a form of self medication as well, and it’s a good thing.
The same concept applies to negative emotions like sadness, loneliness, fear, anxiety and feelings of isolation. The human mind is not intended to feel these kinds of emotions too intensely or for extended and indefinite periods of time without suffering the consequences. This works much like any other part of the body; overuse or abuse leads to injury. The brain is no exception to this rule, so relief is sought after by individuals that are tormented by these negative emotions. Self-medication now includes mind-altering substances of the illegal or socially acceptable kind for relieving the mental anguish.
The First Step of a Dual Diagnosis Treatment
When our staff accepts a new client for rehabilitative substance abuse treatment, the first step is to remove the drugs and/or alcohol from their systems in their entirety. If this is not done first, there can be no question of any clear thinking on the part of our clients. We want to bring our patients to the point of clarity. To see their condition as it really is and to be encouraged to do something about improving it.
The detox process takes about three days to a week, depending on how much of a substance has been used in a given amount of time. Most of our patients have been experiencing uncontrollable urges to use drugs or alcohol up until the time of admittance. This is typical in most cases and is a direct result of the obsessive nature of addiction. Once the drug or drugs of choice have been removed from the body, clarity of mind begins to return.
Counseling for Recovery
Now the recovery process has officially started and therapy is the next course of action. We want to be what makes the difference between actual recovery and the process of constant craving and eventual relapse most people struggling with addiction experience. While our staff is intent on understanding the causes of our patients’ addiction, our patients need to understand this even more. Intensive one-on-one therapy sessions with our psychiatrists provide us with information on possible ‘triggers’ that can cause negative emotions and a potential relapse.
We want our clients to understand that healing will take time and that it needs to be worked on. It’s one thing to detox and be sober, but it’s another thing to work towards your continued sobriety. Work is the keyword, and it will take continuous positive actions and thinking to permanently remove the desire to consume harmful substances. Our patients are also involved in group counseling sessions with their peers so they can share ideas and come to realize that they are not alone in their struggles.
We want our patients to continue the healing process after leaving us. Regularly attending Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings can help provide the necessary support for continued sobriety, but there are other options. If you are currently battling addiction, let us set you on the road to recovery. Call 800-737-0933 and speak with one of our counselors today. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to speak with you.