A substance abuse treatment center is a facility to help people overcome substance abuse, often taking the form of alcohol or drug addiction.
If you or a loved one struggles with substance abuse, know that help is available. Addiction is not a life sentence, and a substance abuse treatment center can help.
How does a substance abuse treatment center work?
Most substance abuse treatment centers are either inpatient rehab or outpatient rehab programs.
Inpatient rehab programs are those that include residential care, meaning staff are available 24/7. Inpatient rehab centers handle all patient needs, including food, accommodation, medication, substance abuse therapy, and specialized care when needed. Inpatient rehab is particularly relevant for those who've struggled with substance abuse for an extended period of time or relapsed a number of times.
For those who want luxury accommodations in beautiful settings, luxury drug and alcohol rehab centers may be more appropriate than standard inpatient rehab facilities. There are also executive rehab centers, which serve business professionals who want to continue working as much as possible as they undergo the substance abuse treatment process.
Outpatient rehab programs provide many of the same services as inpatient rehab centers, but patients don't stay at the facility. Outpatient rehab is normally recommended more for those whose substance abuse isn't as serious or ongoing, as well as for those who can't leave home for some reason (for example, children).
What happens at a substance abuse treatment center?
Whether an inpatient or outpatient rehab facility, a substance abuse treatment center normally follows a certain process:
- Detox (detoxification)
- Addiction therapy (rehabilitation)
- Post-treatment recovery (ongoing care and self-treatment, including support groups)
At intake, substance abuse specialists asks questions to better grasp an individual's situation and whether it's a good fit for that particular rehab center. Some substance abuse treatment centers will ask that you undergo a screening or take diagnostic tests. Normally, the center will want to get a family history, your personal history when it comes to substance abuse, and payment information.
2. Detox (detoxification)
Substance abuse often leads to dependence on a substance like alcohol or an opiate. This means the body requires the substance at certain levels to function, and without it, the body goes into withdrawal. Withdrawal can be exceedingly painful, with symptoms that include trembling, shaking, nausea, sleep issues, seizures, and even stroke or heart attack.
Substance abuse treatment centers – in particular rehab centers – are equipped to help people go through detox and withdrawal safely. In some cases, this includes prescribing medication, especially for alcohol addiction, heroin addiction, and addiction to opiate prescription drugs. Pharmaceutical medications like methadone, buprenorphine, benzodiazepines, and barbituates help ease the overall process and can actually aid in ongoing recovery.
3. Addiction Recovery
After detox is over, a patient moves into the next phase of substance abuse treatment: therapy.
Many addiction specialists hold that drug and alcohol addiction is actually an attempt on the part of the addict to self-medicate, or numb emotional and psychological suffering. Addiction therapy and rehabilitation is thus in part about getting to the root causes of addiction (not just the substance abuse itself, but the reasons behind it).
Substance abuse treatment centers normally often offer one-on-one counseling (individual therapy), group therapy, and, in some cases, family therapy.
Individual therapy uses therapeutic modalities such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) to help patients explore the connection between their thoughts and behavior. Other forms of therapy include DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy), EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), and MI (Motivational Interviewing). Some facilities will also offer forms of experiential therapy or holistic therapy.
Group therapy is another essential part of substance abuse treatment, since it gives those in recovery the opportunity to share openly and hear from others in a similar situation. As people begin to see that they're not alone, that others struggle with the same things and want the same things, they feel less isolated. Friends and connections made in rehab often last beyond the rehab process, and often become critical to overall recovery.
Finally, some substance abuse treatment centers have recovering addicts invite family members to therapy at the rehab facility, often towards the end of treatment. This can be the first experience of family therapy. Family systems are often heavily involved in the addiction cycle, and family therapy can be illuminating and helpful not only for the addict, but for family members, as well. The more a family recovers together, the more likely it is the recovering addict will stay sober.
4. Post-treatment recovery
Leaving a drug and alcohol rehab center is not the "end" of recovery. Like many things in life, sobriety is an ongoing process that takes energy and commitment.
Before leaving an inpatient substance abuse treatment center, patients normally meet with rehab experts to make a plan for what comes next. This sometimes includes living in sober living environment such as a halfway houses. It can also mean the ability to return to the rehab facility on certain weekends when the person feels extra support is in order.
Many times, ongoing care also involves attendance at 12-step groups like AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) or NA (Narcotics Anonymous). Recovering drug and alcohol addicts often report that 12-step programs are a valuable tool for continued sobriety.
What happens after rehab?
Choosing to go to get help for one's addiction is a brave act. It's an assertion that you want to live a better life. It's also the beginning of a new stage of maturity – one based on greater self-awareness, boundaries, strengths and limitations, and community.
Addiction is not a life sentence. Growth is always possible, and full recovery is not only possible, but attainable. You can make it through and emerge with hope and determination, ready to live a life of purpose and peace.