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What Are the First Steps in Addiction Treatment?

At first, drinking or using drugs is easy and fun. The idea of tossing back a few cold ones with friends or doing drugs recreationally is appealing. However, once substances get a hold of us physically, emotionally, and spiritually and you are in the grasp of full-blown addiction, it is incredibly hard to overcome. At that point, addiction treatment is often needed to achieve a sober life. Treatment for substance abuse is typically comprised of a comprehensive, evidence-based program that can truly help those who suffer from addiction.

A considerable population of people in the U.S. and across the globe has fallen victim to the addictive nature of substance abuse. Many will try to get sober, time and time again, but give up. Relapse is common due to the strong dependence on substances that people develop with constant use. Addiction robs us of all facets of our lives: social, physical, mental, emotional, and financial. The first steps in addiction treatment are listed below.

1. Admitting the negative effects of substance abuse

Drug abuse negatively affects an individual’s well-being physically, socially, and emotionally. Your health deteriorates with time, and of course, the risk of death is ever-present. Among the numerous health risks associated with substance abuse is loss of appetite, which leads to a weakened immune system and an increased rate of infection. Substances such as crystal meth can cause chaotic behavior and even meth psychosis, which can destroy one’s social life. People with a substance use disorder may get into fights and commit crimes such as theft.

Admitting that these are possible outcomes if you continue to use drugs is the first step on the road to sobriety. This is a personal step that requires a great deal of thought and analysis.

2. Realizing the need for a change

Admitting the negative effects of substance abuse should help you realize the need to live sober, far from the chaos and destruction of a drug-filled life. Realizing this need to change must come from within. Make a decision to change your life. You may wish to seek forgiveness for past mistakes from friends, clients, and family members. You’ll need assistance to be successful, however. This brings us to our next step.


3. Accepting external support

At this point, you should seek assistance from the right people and places. Overcoming drug addiction requires support from the medical and clinical community, 12-step groups, and other available forms of assistance. Drug addiction reduces one’s willpower to zero. It is, therefore, imperative that you have a support system. Many who try to get clean and sober on their own will fail, especially when they feel powerful urges to use their drug of choice. You may think that “one won’t hurt,” and then get drawn back to where it all began. Many give up and go back to their drug lives in full. Having support increases the chances that you will be successful.

4. Detoxing

Detox refers to the complete elimination of substances from the body. It is a medical step to help you safely get off the drugs or alcohol you have been using. The body becomes physically addicted to certain substances, such as alcohol, cocaine, and heroin, and develops a reliance on them to feel normal. Discontinued use will send you into painful and often dangerous withdrawals unless you are medically detoxed at a hospital or detox center. If you are physically addicted to one or more substances, you need medical supervision and support to help you get off drugs.

5. Getting counseling and therapy

After the detox, treatment with counseling and various types of therapies can begin. Counseling is a vital process that involves opening up to another individual to deal with past trauma and emotional issues. It can be on a one-on-one basis, group counseling, or family counseling. You’ll receive a regular schedule of counseling services based on your individual needs. This is the time to discuss issues that have been bothering you and preventing you from healing. Trained therapists guide you on the path to a better life ahead. There are different types of therapies, including:

  • Motivational interviewing. This aims to explore and develop your will to change.
  • Family Systems therapy. This involves family members and addresses issues that affect everyone.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy. This type of therapy helps people change their mindset toward substance abuse.
  • EMDR (Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing). This is the chosen modality of the U.S. Defense Department for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

6. Attending rehab programs

Rehabilitation programs are a huge help for recovering drug addicts. You’ll enroll in a licensed treatment center that runs several programs to help those suffering from addiction. You will get medical attention and access to therapy and holistic healing modalities, as well as education about the disease of addiction. Other forms of healing involve participation in activities such as yoga, meditation, athletics, and art therapy. This allows for holistic and multidimensional growth.

Treatment programs are only successful when you are totally committed to the program. The desire to get clean and become a whole new person will drive the success of the entire plan. Your urge for change is directly proportional to the level of recovery you’ll achieve. There are different types of rehab programs:

  • Residential rehab programs are where treatment is administered within the residential quarters of the rehab center. Patients are enrolled and required to live full time within the institution.
  • Outpatient treatment is when patients live in their own homes or in structured sober living homes and travel regularly to the facility for treatment. Their doctors and counselors create their schedules based on their individual needs.
  • Sober living facilities provide clean residences and a structured sober living environment to patients who require housing. The residents in these homes are drug-free and are encouraged to lead a clean and healthy lifestyle.
  • Community-based programs are groups you attend within the community. The most popular type of such a program is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and numerous other 12-step fellowships. Various substance abuse programs are also available in different cities and towns. Group involvement enables you to meet with others struggling with the same problem and share experiences. The groups are a source of knowledge, support, and friendship.


7. Undergoing case management

Newly sober alcoholics and addicts often have multiple areas of life that are in grave need of attention in order to be restored to health. Having a case manager, recovery coach, or peer support specialist can greatly reduce anxiety, while supporting the recovering individual through the first months of sobriety.

Get help with addiction

Addiction treatment is an ongoing process that requires dedication. For most, it is a lifelong process of growth. If you wish to change your life and become free from the pain and misery of addiction, seeking out addiction treatment may be the single most important thing you ever do. It can put you on the path to freedom.

If you are thinking about getting help, reach out 1-800-480-1781

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