A periodic addiction treatment review is helpful, I believe, because many people reaching this blog don’t know much about addiction treatment. There’s a lot of bad information floating around. Because addiction is difficult to treat, the perception among many is that treatment doesn’t work. So, a lot of people reaching out for help for themselves or a loved one are skeptical. Treatment can and does work. This doesn’t mean a person goes into a treatment facility, completes treatment and never has any more problems with drugs. That does happen, but other times a process starts that can eventually lead to recovery from addiction.
Recovery from addiction depends on a number of factors — motivation, family support, follow-up with a continuing care plan, attendance at a local support group, environmental factors (Does the person live in an area of high drug use? Does the person have a job that entails a lot of socializing and drinking functions? Are family members using drugs?) A person can recover from addiction under any circumstances if they follow a comprehensive plan and have a strong desire to recover, but it’s harder to recover if conditions are conducive to drug use. As always, when I write “drug use” I’m referring to alcohol as well, if that’s the person’s drug of choice, or if alcohol is the drug that someone uses and then returns to their drug of choice.
Many people believe that if, say, cocaine, is the drug with which they have a problem, then that’s the only drug they need to avoid. The recovering cocaine addict will then substitute alcohol and either develop a problem with alcohol or, more often, while drinking with alcohol impaired judgement, begin craving cocaine and return to the drug of choice. The same goes for a recovering alcoholic who insists that pot is no problem, then while impaired smoking pot makes a bad decision to drink alcohol. Recovery requires clear, sober judgement.
Just like going on a diet, a person can play all sorts of games and rationalize shortcuts and substitutions, but when the half-measures don’t work it’s another lesson. Treatment works, but it’s not a magic cure-all. Basically treatment teaches a person what they have to do after treatment in order to have the best chance at long-term recovery. If a person follows the recovery management plan, they can recover and live a drug-free life.