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Drug And Alcohol Rehabilitation: The Facts

Feb 19, 2008
Drug rehab is a term that refers to psychotherapeutic and medical treatment for substance abuse, or a dependence on a harmful substance. These harmful substances include not only illegal street drugs like cocaine, heroine, or other amphetamines, but also prescription drugs and alcohol. Since the abuse of drugs and alcohol can have far-reaching consequences - social, physical, mental, legal, and financial - the main aim of drug and alcohol rehab is to break that dependency and to enable the patient to cease using the substances and to find a new drug-free way of life.

What does rehab do?

Drug and alcohol rehab tends to focus on the dual nature of substance abuse and dependency, which is both physical and psychological. Dealing with the physical dependency can result in severe withdrawal symptoms, so rehab centres help clients go through what is known as a detoxification process to help cope with the physical withdrawal from drugs and / or alcohol.

Dealing with the psychological aspect of drug and alcohol abuse is also a major part of the rehabilitation process, and it generally focuses on helping an individual learn how to interact and react to situations and stresses on a daily basis, in a drug-free environment. Patients are encouraged to make changes to their life, which may include changing their group of friends, particularly those who are still using drugs or alcohol. In early recovery this can be an important factor in relapse prevention. Certain rehab programs take the client through a twelve-step programme, which challenges addicts and alcoholics to accept that they need help from others in order to beat their addiction, that they must make changes to their life in order to recover, and that they must lead a life which is based upon total honesty with themselves and others.

Often, rehab centres will recommend complete abstinence from legal substances, such as alcohol. Quitting the substance completely is the preferable option, even in cases where alcohol had not been a perceivable problem for the client before. This is because of the fact that most addicts, if their drug of choice is removed, will turn to another drug instead. Alcohol is a mind-altering drug, which will soon become a dependence in people who have been addicted to other drugs in the past.

What forms of rehab are there?

Other than the general treatment centres and twelve-step programmes that are available for substance abusers, a variety of alternative drug and alcohol rehab programmes have emerged over the past few decades. Programmes include residential treatment, extended care centres, sober living houses and local support groups.

Sometimes antidepressants are prescribed for rehab clients in the early stages of treatment, as a temporary measure, as they can be used as part of the detoxification process. However, This must be closely monitored to ensure the client does not develop another addiction to the prescribed substance. In most cases, however, when the client stops using drugs and alcohol, symptoms of depression will diminish and disappear over time. This is because symptoms of the addictive disorder very closely mirror those of clinical depression, with individuals suffering low moods, mood swings, irritability, restlessness, malaise, trouble sleeping and changes in appetite, as a direct result of their drug use. Many addicts are surprised and heartened to find that this is the case as they continue with their recovery.

While in most cases clients will check themselves into drug or alcohol rehab, often attendance and treatment at a rehab centre is ordered by the criminal justice system. Those who are convicted of minor drug or alcohol offences are often referred to a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre instead of prison, and offenders who have a dependence upon alcohol are sometimes ordered to attend a number of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings to help overcome their addiction.

While traditional rehab treatment is based on counselling, a number of studies have shown that there are many occasions where individuals who suffer from addiction have a chemical imbalance that needs to be addressed along side physchological issues. Chemical imbalances can be helped through making changes to diet, other nutritional supplements, and working toward a healthy lifestyle, which helps to correct the imbalance and also releases the patient from the grip of drug or alcohol addiction.
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