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Drug Rehabilitation - The Road To Sobriety

Addiction RecoveryFor most people, substance abuse seems like a release from the stresses of daily living. However, in many cases it leads to serious consequences, and might even worsen existing problems and create new ones, leaving feelings of shame, helplessness, and isolation.

To this end, if you are worried that you, a family member, or a friend has been abusing drugs and alcohol, it is essential that you remember that sobriety is attainable. Learning about the nature of substance abuse and addiction - including how and why it develops, why it has a powerful hold, and what it looks like - will go a long way in enabling you to understand the problem better and know the steps to take to deal with it.

The most important decision you can make, therefore, is deciding that the time is ripe for drug and alcohol rehabilitation. However, knowing the steps you should take after you know you or a loved one has an addiction problem might be confusing.

That said, most people are not able to quit drugs and alcohol. This is primarily because the road to sobriety may end up taking months or years. Some addicts even struggle with relapses and lapses as they attempt to get sober, which is why you need to practice patience and understanding in case of temporary setbacks.

Irrespective of how long you have been abusing alcohol and drugs, or how bad your addiction might seem, there are known steps you can take to finally release yourself from the grip of addiction.

As long as you remain committed to taking all the required steps to stop abusing these substances, there are support groups and treatment professionals waiting to use their expertise and knowledge to help you on the road to sobriety. This road tends to go through the following stages:


In many cases, this is the first step to full recovery. Many drug and alcohol addicts tend to be in denial that they have a problem. As such, they may be unwilling or unable to recognize and understand the negative consequences that addiction imposes on themselves and their loved ones.

In these situations, colleagues, friends, loved ones, and family members are more likely to recognize the problem even before the addict does. The best course of action, therefore, would be to lend your support and lead the addict on the road to recovery.

The main types of addiction include:

  • Alcohol addiction
  • Illicit drug addiction
  • OTC (over the counter) drug addiction
  • Prescription drug addiction

Most people start abusing alcohol and drugs recreationally, where they use and drink in social settings. However, addiction is progressive meaning that with the passing of time, the user will exhibit higher tolerance for the substance and engage in the behavior more frequently.

In case the alcohol or drugs are taken away, you might experience withdrawal symptoms and intense cravings, a sign that you are dependent and addicted. Some of the common symptoms of addiction you need to watch to for, therefore, to tell whether you are or a loved one is struggling with any kind of substance use disorder include but are not limited to:

1. Physical Signs of Addiction

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Clothes that no longer fit the way they used to
  • Deteriorated personal grooming habits
  • Deterioration in physical appearance
  • Excessive sniffing
  • Impaired coordination
  • Looking pale
  • Pupils smaller or larger than usual
  • Red eyes
  • Repetitive speech patterns
  • Runny nose (that might not be attributed to a cold)
  • Slurred speech
  • Sudden weight gain or loss
  • Tremors
  • Underactive or overactive depending on the substance being abused
  • Undernourishment
  • Unusual smells and odors on body, clothing, or breath due to poor personal hygiene

2. Psychological Signs of Addiction

  • Aggressiveness
  • Agitation
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Argumentativeness
  • Blaming
  • Changes in attitude or personality
  • Cheerfulness
  • Confusion
  • Cravings for the substance of choice
  • Defensiveness
  • Denial
  • Depression
  • Diversion, and changing the subject under discussion away from substance abuse
  • Fearfulness
  • General lack of motivation
  • Giddiness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Inability to handle or deal with stress
  • Irritability
  • Lethargy
  • Minimization, or admitting to the problem superficially without necessarily admitting the full scope or seriousness of its consequences
  • Mood swings
  • Obnoxiousness
  • Overexcitement
  • Paranoia
  • Rationalizing, or offering explanations, justifications, excuses, or alibis for drug and alcohol abuse
  • Spacing out
  • Suspiciousness
  • Thinking that the substance abuse is normal even in those cases where it results in negative consequences like relationship problems, work problems, and financial issues

3. Behavioral Signs of Addiction

  • Being secretive or isolated about your activities
  • Conversations dominated topics related to using drugs and alcohol
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Drop in performance and attendance at school or work
  • Engaging in suspicious or secretive behaviors
  • Evading important engagements and responsibilities
  • Frequent and unexplained need for money accompanied by financial problems, with some stealing or borrowing to acquire their substance of choice
  • Getting into trouble frequently, including illegal activities, accidents, and fights
  • Legal problems
  • Missing school or work
  • Relationship or marital problems
  • Strained relationships with friends and family
  • Sudden change in acquaintances, favorite hangouts, friends, and hobbies
  • Trouble with the law on account of substance abuse


Drug InterventionAfter identifying the problem, the next step would be to host an intervention. In this case, you would have to gather friends and family together, invite an interventionist for facilitation purposes, and create a treatment plan to recommend during the intervention.

Interventions work well because they are typically designed to assist the addict or alcoholic to come to terms with the reality of their situation, as well as provide them with options for treatment plans.

As such, it helps addicts achieve sobriety. Through the assistance of an interventionist, you can easily alleviate the stress levels at the intervention, and keep the message on track. Following its conclusion, action should be taken to get the addict the help they require.

During the intervention, before, or even after it, the addict will admit that their substance use and abuse is quickly escalating into an unbearable problem. Admitting that the problem does exist means that they also have to agree to address it, such as by opening up to family and friends about the issue and looking for a solution.

In many cases, addicts recognize that they have a problem with alcohol and drugs on their own. However, if this fails to happen, it is imperative that loved ones take the necessary steps to point it out.

For instance, you might realize that you are reliant on the drug or alcohol you have been using and see the negative effects it has in various aspects of your life - including your financial situation, relationships, and performance at work or school. During this time, it is essential that you have and lean on a support network.

Committing To Quitting

It would also be helpful if you wrote out a list of the most important reasons why you would like to get sober and clean. In the list, include a reminder in the form of all the things you are losing on account of your alcohol and drug addiction.

In most cases, getting sober takes effort and time. When you enroll into a treatment program, you need to commit fully to overcoming your addiction and turning your life around.

There are many reasons you can commit to the road to sobriety. For instance, you might be interested in rebuilding the beautiful relationships you had with family members, spouses, colleagues, children, and friends.

On the other, you may simply want to stop the hold that the influence of substance has over your life - a hold that leads you to behave in ways you never imagined possible and you should not.

Irrespective of the reasons why you would like to quit, it is imperative that you commit yourself to a life free of substances and alcohol. Ongoing sobriety is often linked with motivation to recover fully.

Consequently, it is vital that you consider your main sources of motivation - they may prove critical to your success in the long term as well as your ability to completely turn your life around.

Therefore, think about all the reasons you would like to get sober and clean for, list them down, and contrast them to everything you have lost on account of your substance abuse.

Accepting Help

Accepting help for substance abuse and addiction often requires that you accept any offered advice, seek medical attention, and progress onto treatment through alcohol and drug rehabilitation and detoxification.

Accepting help for substance abuse and addiction often requires that you accept any offered advice, seek medical attention, and progress onto treatment through alcohol and drug rehabilitation and detoxification.

This is an essential part in your road to recovery from addiction. In most cases, the risk that you could lose your friends, family, spouse, job, or freedom may prove to be the main driving force that will push you to look for and accept help.

In the process, you might also want to get support. Finding the perfect support as you go on the road to sobriety and recovery will prove critical to your ability to get sober. Luckily, there are many people and places you can turn to for support and help - including others who are in recovery, close friends, family members, and support groups.

Many people end their road to sobriety by attending and following such 12-step programs as NA (Narcotics Anonymous) and AA (Alcoholics Anonymous). These programs are designed to allow the addict to completely reevaluate their life choices, be honest about their addiction, and review the struggles they undergo trying to get sober without fearing that what they said during the meetings will go out into the public grapevine.

While recovering, you may also want to attend meetings organized by support groups. By so doing, you will encourage others who have just begun the road to a drug-free and alcohol-free life. You can also benefit from the encouragement that would be provided by those who have been longer on this road. For instance, you will get to share stories about your struggles and experiences with recovery and addiction.

Some rehabilitation centers also get their residents to attend on-site meetings to help them overcome their addiction collectively. These programs are designed to allow members to meet and get sponsors who will work in guiding them through treatment and recovery.

Alcoholics Anonymous MeetingThe sponsors are also ideal because they may help you establish the right plan you can follow to achieve sustainable sobriety even after the initial treatment program comes to a close.

If you are religious in nature, attending religious meetings and ceremonies might prove crucial to helping you maintain your sobriety. For instance, you might attend religious functions as well as follow the teachings of your faith about the importance of abstaining from alcohol and drugs.

Some churches, for instance, host 12 step programs and other substance abuse and addiction support groups. Good examples here include faith and spiritual based rehabilitation centers.

By combining the teachings of the religion you believe in with the teachings from your support group educators, you may end up with a collective knowledge of everything you need to do to get and stay sober.

Another source of support could come from family. This type of support is quite powerful, so you may want to use supportive family members to intervene in a drug and alcohol abuse case. It is for this reason that some NA and AA groups offer open meetings where family members may be invited to attend to help addicts in their recovery after understanding what they go through and the type of assistance they require.

Alternatively, addicts may benefit from seeking support in family programs such as Nar Anon and Al Anon. however, if your family isn't too supportive and you are trying to overcome your addiction, you have the option of building your own support system in other places. As you will soon discover, not everyone gets the support of their family on the road to sobriety - therefore, it is vital that you look for other people you can count on to shore you up during the hardest times.

For instance, you always have the option of turning to an outpatient rehabilitation center for support. These centers might offer you the perfect combination of individual and/or group therapy and medication-assisted recovery. The advantage is that you won't have even have to leave home or your job to stay in a residential or inpatient treatment facility.

Irrespective of where the support comes from, having people you can rely on during your recovery journey is more likely than not to significantly improve the odds that you will succeed in your attempts to overcome your substance abuse condition.

Setting Goals For Recovery

One of the most effective ways to maintain your motivation during drug and alcohol rehabilitation is by setting attainable and time-bound goals for your complete recovery. In many cases, it would be helpful if you were able to personally identify the underlying values that could help you in this journey. To be more specific, knowing your personal and life values will empower you to set goals that are not only important but that are relevant to your situation.

While actively struggling with alcohol and drug dependence and addiction, therefore, it would be best if you thought of several short term goals. They should include those things you are sure you should be able to attain within a couple of month's time.

The goals should also be specific in terms of behavior - including those things that others may observe you doing. As far as possible, desist from vague goals, such as telling yourself that you wish to be happy or feel better.

Early in your road to sobriety, the goals should be directly correlated to your condition. Add a timeline to these goals so that you are able to keep yourself on target, while having a comparison scale to see how far you've come.

Examples of attainable short term behavioral goals you can set, to this end, include:

  • Identifying specific problems and developing plans to empower you to deal with them as you go forward with your recovery
  • Managing your feelings by understanding, labeling, recognizing, and expressing emotions appropriately
  • Talking about the guilt and shame of abusing alcohol and other substances so that you learn how to associate your feelings with positive actions and decisions in a healthier way
  • Leaning techniques and methods that you can apply to reduce depression, control impulses, and manage anger

Treatment For Drug And Alcohol Abuse/Addiction

Selecting the right treatment program is one of the essential parts of effective recovery. Some of the available options, to this end, include checking into the right rehabilitation facility, going cold turkey, or attending support groups.

The effectiveness of every option will depend on your particular needs and unique preferences, the type of addiction you are dealing with, as well as the extent to which it may have progressed over the past few months/years.

When you want to stop abusing alcohol and drugs, it is imperative that you ensure that you do in a healthy and safe way. To this end, you may want to consider getting into an addiction rehabilitation center for treatment.

Depending on the primary drug or substance you abuse and the duration of your abuse, you might first require medically-supervised detoxification. Most of the alcohol and drug treatment facilities you will come across would be designed to help you keep away from the various temptations that you are likely to encounter if you try to embark on the journey to sobriety on your own.

After you complete the detox process, to this end, most of these programs may also offer you both the structured plans and the emotional support you require to ensure that you avoid going into relapse mode.

That said, there is a wide variety of specific program types and settings for alcohol and drug abuse treatment. Most people with the severest forms of substance use problems often choose to attend residential/inpatient rehab facilities.

Treatment in the residential setting will take you out of potentially challenging work and home environments. It will also facilitate your ability to focus on the recovery efforts for a specific duration - ranging from a couple of weeks to a few months (or even longer where necessary).

There are also several structured outpatient rehabilitation programs. These will provide you with a variety of substance addiction treatment interventions that are quite similar to those you would find in the inpatient setting.

The only difference is that outpatient facilities administer their interventions in less time-intensive and immersive settings. In most cases, you would find these programs ideal if your home environment is relatively stable or if you have a strong support system to help you quit.

Outpatient treatment may also entail focused-recovery programming for a couple of hours every day for several days in a week.

The Addiction Rehabilitation Process

The journey to sobriety and improved health is hardly as easy or as quick as you might assume. In most cases, it may prove to be a life-long commitment of hard work and dedication on your part.

Luckily, the rewards you are likely to gain when you transform your life from one of addiction to one of recovery are quite immeasurable. As such, they may be well worth every bit of effort you will put into it. Like with any other kind of journey, therefore, the road to recovery and sobriety will begin once you start making small but simple steps forward.

In many cases, the specific steps in the addiction recovery process may vary according to what you are addicted to, the kind of addiction, the treatment plans and strategies used, as well as you as an individual. However, most drug and alcohol rehabilitation processes share the following key elements:

1. Intake

Drug Rehab IntakeThis refers to the process of determining whether certain rehabilitation centers are the ideal fit for you, and vice versa. At this stage, you should ask the center a couple of questions about those aspects of recovery and treatment you feel are most important to your comfort, convenience, budget, and more.

The rehabilitation facility may also ask you a couple of questions to determine if you are the right fit. They might, additionally, ask that you undergo a couple of screenings and diagnostic tests to decide how they can tailor a specific treatment plan to match your particular needs and the stage of addiction you are at.

The center may be interested in finding out more about how severe your addiction is, your family history of addiction, your personal history with drug use, as well as the financial arrangements you have made for your treatment.

As far as possible, you should take the necessary precautions to ensure that the program will meet your needs and requirements as best they can. With regards to drug rehabilitation facilities and programs, there is never a short of options. Therefore, you should keep in mind that it is both feasible and important that you search for the center that is the perfect match.

Once you are comfortable with the program you chose, you will be more likely than not to stick to it and continue striving with recovery through to the end. This way, your choice of a rehab facility will determine the chances of success in terms of long term sobriety and improved health.

NIDA (the National Institute on Drug Abuse) details the following key principles everyone should keep in mind before they start on an alcohol or drug treatment program:

  • Addiction affects both the brain and your behavior
  • Behavioral therapy happens to be the most common type of treatment, and it might involve a combination of individual, family, and group therapy
  • Drug addiction is often linked to mental health issues; these issues should be evaluated, diagnosed, and addressed during the drug rehabilitation treatment
  • Effective treatment needs to address every area of your life in a holistic way, and not just your addiction or substance abuse
  • Medical or pharmaceutical treatment may accompany therapy for improved chances of recovery
  • Patients should commit enough energy and time to treatment if they are to effectively overcome the addiction
  • Physical detoxification is quite important even if it is the first stage in drug rehabilitation; long-term behavioral changes will typically require ongoing support and behavioral therapy
  • The ideal treatment program or rehabilitation facility needs to monitor you to check for any potential relapses as you undergo treatment and at specific stages in your recovery
  • The treatment plans needs to be revised continually to accommodate and meet your changing circumstances and needs
  • There is never any one-size-fits-all solution to substance abuse treatment; instead, different facilities and treatments will work more effectively for some people than for others
  • Treating drug and substance addiction as early as possible is vital for more successful outcomes
  • Treatment does not have to be voluntary for it to be successful and effective; many addicts are compelled to get into rehab by family, friends, place of employment, and the court system and still manage to achieve full recovery after going through the program
  • Treatment programs ought to assess the addict for any co-existing infectious disease, such as tuberculosis, hepatitis, and HIV

That said, the rehabilitation treatment programs may be offered in an inpatient or outpatient setting. Others, however, combine both types of services to meet the varying needs of their patients. Regardless of the choice you pain, the intake process will most likely be the same. It will also be conducted by a drug and substance addiction counselor at the center.

2. Detox

Drug DetoxificationMost types of substance addictions require detoxification before you proceed to full rehabilitation. This stage is mostly designed in such a way that it will purge all traces of alcohol and drugs from your body.

In most cases, you may be issued with maintenance medication to ease some of the withdrawal symptoms associated with the drugs or substances you have been abusing, including but not limited to heroin and prescription drug addiction.

The severity of the detoxification process will vary according to your individual metabolism and body composition, the particular drug/substance and dosage that you were using, how long you took the substance, and if other types of addictions were involved.

In general, detox is quite safe because it will be conducted in a medically supervised setting. However, detox might be potentially severe for certain substances and individuals (or even fatal). As such, it is ill-advised that you try it on your own.

When you consume alcohol or take drugs on a regular basis, your body may get accustomed to having such abuse. If this substance is removed, your body might experience severe withdrawal symptoms.

Detox can bring about withdrawal symptoms, including but not limited to:

  • Agitation
  • Concentration
  • Cramping
  • Decreased appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Extreme depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Headaches
  • Heart attack
  • Inability to sleep
  • Muscle tension
  • Nausea
  • Pain
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Runny nose
  • Seizures
  • Severe fatigue
  • Shaking
  • Stroke
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Trouble breathing

3. Rehab

After you get through the initial detoxification from alcohol and drugs, you will most likely continue with treatment through rehab. At this point, you may get to understand the core reasons why you are addicted, and find effective solutions to addressing these issues before moving on with your life while avoiding alcohol, drugs, and any other type of addictive behavior.

Group TherapyDuring rehab, you may undergo several types of treatment. These include, but are not limited to:

When you choose to sign into an inpatient or outpatient rehab facility will depend on a variety of factors. These include your budget, the nature of your addiction, the type of substance you are addicted to, as well as the existence (or lack thereof) of a strong support system around your home/work environment.

4. Ongoing Recovery

Even after you complete your rehab program, you may not be completely recovered and sober. In fact, many people find that full time recovery is a lifelong undertaking that requires ongoing attention and work.

To this end, you should focus on ongoing recovery to ensure that you withstand any temptation to relapse. As such, the journey to recovery and sobriety may come with varying terrain and changes in mood and temptation. Therefore, ongoing support is vital to your recovery.

Before you leave your addiction treatment program, you may meet with counselors for a discussion of the right aftercare plan. Ask whether there are any follow-up programs that you can enroll into to help you transition back to normal life.

The other options you should look into include:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous (or AA)
  • Narcotics Anonymous (or NA)
  • Pills Anonymous (or PA)
  • Emotions Anonymous (or EA)
  • Gamblers Anonymous (or GA)
  • Sex Addicts Anonymous (or SAA)
  • Cocaine Anonymous (or CA)
  • Crystal Meth Anonymous (or CMA)

So, there you have it - the comprehensive guide to drug rehabilitation on the road to sobriety. Use this guide the next time you fear that you are addicted or that a close friend or family member is suffering from some type of substance abuse problem, to seek the right kind of treatment.

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