Updated on August 7th, 2020
According to results from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2018, approximately 20.3 million people aged 12 or older had a substance use disorder (SUD), including 14.8 million people who had an alcohol use disorder and 8.1 million people who had an illicit drug use disorder.1 Not only is there a treatment gap for those struggling with substance abuse, but rates of illegal drug use continue to increase.
It can be very difficult to admit there is a substance abuse problem in our own lives or the lives of others close to us, but recognizing the problem is the first step to recovery. If you are concerned that you or someone you love may need professional addiction treatment, here are some important signs to look for, as well as more information on treatment options and how to get started.
Do I Need Rehab?
If your life and relationships are negatively affected by drug or alcohol use, you may be addicted and you likely need help to overcome it. It can be easy to believe that you can quit on your own (and some people do) or that you don’t need help in the first place, but addiction can quickly derail your personal life and career if it is left untreated.
The American Psychological Association defines addiction as “a chronic disorder with biological, psychological, social and environmental factors influencing its development and maintenance.”2 In short, drug addiction is a disease of the brain and results in changes to its structure and functions. That means it changes the way your brain works, greatly impacting your thoughts and behavior and making it extremely difficult to stop using drugs or alcohol without medical and clinical assistance.
Repeated drug abuse severely reduces your self-control, affects your decision-making, and creates intense, uncontrollable urges to continue using the substance. For this reason, many people cannot overcome drug and alcohol addiction on their own.3
Addiction can be classified as mild, moderate, or severe based on the following criteria:4
- Experiencing withdrawal
- Developing a tolerance
- Lacking control
- Having strong cravings
- Experiencing problems in relationships
- Wanting to quit but being unable
- Losing interest in daily activities and hobbies
- Spending a large amount of time using or trying to get the substance
- Using even when it’s physically dangerous for oneself or others
- Experiencing negative side effects and consequences due to use but continuing to use anyway
The severity of a substance use disorder is classified by how many of the above criteria you meet. If two or three of the criteria listed above apply to you, your addiction is mild, but it’s still very important to seek help. Addiction is a progressive disease, so although you may think that you don’t need treatment now if you continue with the same habits, your substance use disorder is likely to get much worse.
Who Develops Addiction?
Many factors influence who can become addicted to drugs or alcohol. Biological factors such as ethnicity, gender, and mental health issues play a large role. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, genes play a large role in the likelihood of someone developing an addiction, as they affect the way the body processes addictive substances and the extent of reward and pleasure that is experienced.2
Scientists have discovered that genetic factors account for about 40 to 60 percent of a person’s vulnerability to drug addiction.5 However, that does not mean that one single gene is responsible for the development of a person’s gene. Instead, researchers say addiction is a very complex disease, with many different genes each contributing a little bit.
A person’s living environment and exposure to substance abuse can also lead to a lifestyle of addiction. Things like socioeconomic status, parental roles, early drug use, sexual abuse, and severe stress all influence the development of a substance abuse problem. Additionally, if a person has friends or family members who abuse drugs or alcohol, the individual is much more likely to do so themselves.
Even still, it is well known and accepted that everyone who tries drugs will not become addicted. Some people are more vulnerable to substance use disorders due to the individual differences listed above, among many others.
What Are Signs You Need Rehab?
People who are addicted to drugs or alcohol display signs of addiction in all aspects of life. Objectively evaluating your behaviors is difficult, but a trusted friend or family member may be able to provide honest feedback to help you identify some of the following addictive behaviors in your own life.
- Neglecting important obligations: You consistently prioritize your substance use instead of focusing on work, school, or family obligations.
- Intense cravings: Your thoughts are consumed by your urge to drink alcohol or use drugs and you always feel the need for more.
- Need to continue using: You feel like you can’t get through the day without using. The substance allows you to maintain a sense of normalcy.
- Lack of control: You are physically unable to stop using the substance.
- Withdrawal: You start experiencing uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms like nausea, sweating, shakiness, or insomnia when you stop using the substance.
- Riffs in relationships: Your substance use has caused serious problems with your spouse, other family members, coworkers, and friends.
- Financial problems: You consistently overspend just to make sure you always have a supply of the substance, even if that means foregoing food, rent, and other necessary bills.
- Risky behaviors: You’ve operated a vehicle, had unprotected sex or risked the wellbeing of others while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
- Unsuccessful attempts to get sober: You want to get sober and you’ve tried on your own before, but you have not been successful.
If you think a loved one may have a substance abuse problem, the following signs should be a significant cause for concern:
- Extreme changes in behavior: Your loved one has suddenly started hanging out with a new group of friends, they have lost interest in hobbies and activities they used to love, their performance at school or work has suddenly deteriorated and their physical appearance/personal grooming has declined.
- Health problems: He or she is consistently developing infections, has bruises, suddenly lost or gained a significant amount of weight, or lacks motivation and energy.
- Unusual secrecy: Your loved one is suddenly very secretive about their whereabouts or living space.
- Financial issues: He or she is always asking for money, selling personal items, or has drained their bank accounts. You may also notice missing personal items of your own that could have been sold to support drug usage.
What Is Rehab for Drugs and Alcohol?
If you are addicted, you may need to complete a detox program before entering a rehabilitation program. Drug and alcohol detox is designed to rid your body of the addictive substances and help you achieve a stable and sober state. This is done with round-the-clock medical and clinical treatment that often includes medications, individual therapy, and group counseling. Detox is often the very first stage in the addiction treatment process and it usually takes about five to seven days.
For many people, the next step in the recovery process is drug and alcohol rehab. These addiction treatment programs are designed to help people modify harmful behaviors, address the causes of their substance abuse, and re-enter society as healthy, productive, and sober individuals.
Every rehab center provides different facilities and amenities. Depending on your preferences, a residential center can be as simple as primitive cabins or luxurious private rooms in a residential home. However, these types of amenities rarely dictate the quality of treatment you receive. It’s important to investigate the type of treatment methods offered and the qualifications of the staff.
Treatment at a drug or alcohol rehab program may be voluntary or court-mandated, but residents are free to leave if they choose. Regardless, if the treatment is court-ordered, the individual will have to face the consequences of leaving rehab before completing the program, which may include fines or jail time.
How Does Drug and Alcohol Rehab Work?
During rehab, you’ll work with a team of doctors, addiction specialists, and therapists to complete your recovery program. The components of drug and alcohol rehab will include several components that work together to help you shed your old unhealthy lifestyle as you learn how to live a new fulfilling and sober life. They include:
- Education: Educational lectures are designed to enhance each client’s knowledge of addiction, substance abuse, and the physical and mental changes that occur as a result. This can help people better understand how their behavior correlates with their addiction and lasting sobriety is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Educational lectures also elaborate on the lasting consequences of substance abuse, which can help people break through denial and commit to sobriety.
- Individual and group counseling: During rehab, you will attend one-on-one therapy regularly and attend group sessions daily. Individual counseling sessions are facilitated by a licensed professional counselor and may utilize behavioral therapy techniques to teach you the skills and tools you need to sustain a sober lifestyle. Group counseling sessions are designed to help you recognize the value of peer support in recovery. They may take the form of 12-Step meetings at some drug rehab centers.
- Family meetings: Research supports the idea that including family members in the addiction treatment process greatly improves outcomes. Not surprisingly, many drug and alcohol rehab programs include family meetings as a regular part of treatment. In these meetings, your loved ones will learn about the nature of addiction, identify resources and tools to help you in your recovery, discuss how they have been affected by your substance abuse, learn about enabling behaviors, and get help for themselves through Al-Anon meetings or other resources.
- Aftercare: Drug and alcohol rehab programs can last from 28 or 30 days to 90 days or longer. Many successful rehab programs offer long-term treatment (90 days or more) and provide very strong aftercare programs that allow for a gradual decline in structure and support after rehab is over. Aftercare may include IOP (intensive outpatient program), sober living programs, or certified peer monitoring programs. These aftercare services will help you adjust to the increase in responsibilities as you reintegrate back into society as a sober person.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Services Administration, addiction treatment for an individual in recovery should also consist of the following:6
- Health – Effective treatment and management for all physical and psychological issues should be provided.
- Home – The individual should have a safe, comfortable place to live.
- Purpose – Self-efficacy and worth should be promoted with meaningful daily activities.
- Community – The individual should have supportive, caring friendships and mentorships both throughout and after rehab.
These treatment components will all be provided at a high-quality drug and alcohol rehab facility.
How Does Online Drug Rehab Work?
Online drug rehab is another type of treatment that is quickly gaining popularity. Online rehab programs provide convenient real-time video sessions that offer effective and private treatment from the comfort of one’s own home.
Virtual addiction treatment is not intended to replace face-to-face rehab, but it is an excellent supplementary tool for individuals who have already completed residential treatment or who do not have access to a residential rehab center. Online drug rehab may also be ideal for anyone who:
- Travels frequently for work
- Has a demanding full-time job or student course load
- Cannot attend face-to-face rehab due to other responsibilities at home or work
- Does not prefer to attend treatment in person
- Has a physical disability that prevents them from attending face-to-face treatment
With online drug and alcohol rehab, clients can have access to treatment professionals with a computer, tablet, or smartphone. These types of programs are often offered through licensed addiction treatment centers and facilitated by certified addiction treatment specialists who provide individualized treatment with evidence and research-based methods.
If you choose to attend an online rehab program, it’s important to properly research and vet the program before committing to ensure that you are receiving quality care from a licensed and verified addiction treatment center.
What Are the Benefits of Long-Term Drug and Alcohol Rehab?
Short-term rehab may be attractive due to its promise of fast recovery, but long-term drug and alcohol rehab promotes lasting and even lifelong recovery with the following benefits.
- You identify destructive behaviors and uncover the root causes of your addiction.
- You learn how to integrate healthy behaviors into everyday life with strategies for avoiding relapse and harmful environments.
- You receive valuable addiction education to better understand how drugs and alcohol affect your body.
- You practice staying sober in a distraction and substance-free environment.
- You establish a support community and develop valuable relationships with others in recovery.
How to Get Help for Addiction to Drugs and Alcohol
You may be able to hide your addiction behind a successful personal life or professional career for a short time, but this can only last for so long. For many people, years go by before the double life starts to quickly fall apart. For others, a life-changing incident like a DUI or an overdose is the game-changer that finally forces them to address their addiction. It can be extremely difficult to overcome the denial, but it’s much better to get treatment now than to wait until one of these life-changing things happens to you.
Overcoming addiction starts with an outward recognition of the problem and a willingness to ask for help. Reaching out to a trusted doctor, counselor, friend, or family member is an excellent way to start your recovery journey. A trusted professional or loved one can help you research your treatment options and find one that aligns with your individual needs and budget.
Deciding to get help for an addiction problem is a brave and admirable thing to do. If you think you need drug and alcohol rehab to overcome your addiction, please contact Nova Recovery Center today. We can help you determine a treatment plan that most effectively addresses your needs. Call us to get started today.
Image used under license from Shutterstock.com