Substance abuse and addiction may have been around for as long as the Homo Sapiens species has existed. Experimenting with psycho-active plants, organic compounds, and distillations seems to be part of human nature. Addiction happens naturally with substances that are biologically or chemically habit-forming. However, addiction has become more common in modern humans compared to our distant past due to the introduction of medicines and pharmaceutical drugs. According to one source, drug overdoses kill over 40,000 people per year in the United States. Drug addiction recovery programs were developed for treatment, and these programs grow and evolve as new research is uncovered.
Elements of Recovery
- Detoxification. Depending on the severity of the addiction, patients may require hospitalization and/or supervised drug detoxification. This is the process of letting the drug out of the patient's system. The misery of withdrawal can be lessened by detox medications such as methadone. Hospitalizations could last five days to two weeks.
- Rehabilitation. Once addicts are "clean," or detoxed, their next step is usually a rehabilitation program. These programs are voluntary, unlike hospitalizations. In rehab, addicts will stay in a facility, follow a daily schedule, and learn information and coping skills in both group therapy and one-on-one counseling sessions. There will be no chance of using the addictive substance while in rehab. Treatment programs are typically 90 days or longer.
- Recovery Group. After rehab, addicts should join a support group and/or a twelve-step recovery program, which is similar to Alcoholics Anonymous programs. For cases not severe enough to warrant detox or rehab, joining a support group is often the first major step toward recovery. Whether they are informal support groups or more rigid twelve-step recovery meetings, these groups can provide addicts with support, information, insight, motivation, and self-discovery.
- Sponsor. If the addict is part of a twelve-step or sobriety program, he or she may choose to have a sponsor. Your sponsor is someone who once shared your addiction, but has now been clean for a long time, and will support you and hold you accountable as you stay clean from drugs. The addict should have a healthy relationship with his or her sponsor and share personal contact information.
- Therapy. In addition to attending group meetings, people in recovery should also have regular one-on-one meetings with a licensed counselor. Talk therapists can help you with specific issues that you may not have the time or confidence to share about in group. They can also help with any psychological disorders that may co-occur with addiction. With a therapist, you can talk freely and rest assured of confidentiality.
- Other Support. In any kind of recovery, it's helpful to have the emotional support of family, friends, and loved ones. For people of faith, church services or spirituality groups may also prove very beneficial.