When it comes to recovery from addiction to alcohol, drugs, or compulsive behaviors, it’s never too early to get started. But many for many people seeking recovery for the first time, it’s hard to know where to begin. Questions like, “should I start with meetings?” or “do I need to go to detox?” or “how do I find a rehab that works for me?” are common for those new to recovery. These questions can be overwhelming and confusing, but don’t worry, we’ve got your back.
In this 3-part series, we’ll explain the differences between detox, rehab, intensive outpatient programs, recovery fellowships, sober living, and more, to give newcomers and their families a basic roadmap for addressing and defeating addiction safely. This information in these posts is not a definitive blueprint for recovery. Rather, these suggestions are simply meant to help the people who are looking for help. Every person’s addiction is different, and no recovery is one-size-fits-all. This series is simply meant to be a loose guide to ease confusion and give people who are struggling a game plan to get started.
Interventions: More Than Just a TV Show
For those suffering from addiction who don’t want help, or who may be in denial about how bad their own addiction has gotten, interventions may be an important step in the recovery process. Made famous by the television show of the same name, interventions are a useful tool for families and loved ones to jumpstart their family member’s recovery. Of course, not all interventions look like the ones on TV.
There are many types of interventions for people at all levels of addiction, including crisis interventions, early interventions, and family interventions. A safe and healthy intervention requires the guidance and leadership of a trained and experienced interventionist. No family should confront a loved one without professional help. To learn about the different types of interventions, and which one is right for your family member or loved one, ask a professional [link here].
Safety First: Medical Detox
Addiction and recovery is a multifaceted problem that deals with the mind, body, and soul. But before the soul can recover, it’s important to make sure the mind and body are healthy. That’s where medical detox and mental health care come in. For people suffering from physical dependence on opiates, alcohol, or benzodiazepines, a safe and healthy detox supervised by medical professionals is critical. Most detox clinics are dedicated inpatient facilities, staffed with medical professionals who administer medications, monitor vital signs, and counsel patients about their addiction and recovery needs. The length of a detox stay is largely dependent on the type of substance being abused, frequency of use, and the length of the addiction. The average stay in a detox facility lasts for a period of 7-10 days, or until vital signs return to normal.
Withdrawal symptoms are painful and jarring to the body and mind, causing sufferers to do whatever it takes to get that next dose. Withdrawal symptoms can range from flu-like symptoms of fever, tremors, and diarrhea, to more intense symptoms like delusions, hallucinations, psychotic breaks, grand mal seizures, and even death. Many people compare people in withdrawal to a scared, injured animal, capable of lashing out in many dangerous ways. People suffering from withdrawals may lie, cheat, steal, and harm others or themselves to get their next dose, causing further harm to themselves, their families, and the community at large. Additionally, a person suffering from withdrawals may cause a deadly accidental overdose while trying to treat their own withdrawal symptoms.
Medical detox isn’t just about making people suffering from addiction feel comfortable. Withdrawal from alcohol and benzodiazepines can be lethal. If you or a loved one is suffering from physical dependence on alcohol or benzodiazepines, it is absolutely crucial to find medical help in the form of a medical detox facility, hospital, or a medical at-home detox specialist. Medical detox removes most of the risk factors during withdrawals. By treating withdrawal symptoms with a combination of drugs like opiate receptor-blockers, mild tranquilizers and sedatives, or a controlled taper of the addictive substance, a medical detox is the safest and most effective way to treat the physical dangers of withdrawal.
Mental Health Care
Many people who suffer from addiction also suffer from mental illness of some kind, such as depression or bipolar disorder. The combination of addiction and mental illness is known as “dual diagnosis” or “co-occurring disorder.” People suffering from co-occurring disorders often go off their psych medications during periods of heavy alcohol or drug use, and need may need special attention or a brief stay in a mental health facility in order to restore a healthy mental state before further progress can be made in their recovery. For people suffering from mental health issues alongside addiction, help from a mental health professional is critical to the success of their addiction recovery.
Mental health care is part of addiction recovery. By ending the stigma surrounding mental health and addiction, we can help those who are suffering find the right kind of help and begin their recovery today.
— For Avenues New York, 2018
If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction and would like more information about addiction recovery services such as intervention, case management, sober coaching, clinical referrals, sober living, or aftercare, please contact Avenues New York [contact info].
If you or a loved one is having a substance-related medical emergency, please dial 911 and seek the help of a medical professional.