In the U.S., fewer than 10 percent of the 30 million people with addiction seek treatment. Why this statistic rarely changes is complicated, but often hinges on the quality of treatment, the social misconceptions of addiction, and knowing what you or a loved one deserve for essential care. When searching for a rehab facility, here are some key points to help make the best decision.
Treat Addiction Like a Health Condition
Decades of evidence-based addiction science reinforces that substance use disorder (SUD) and alcohol use disorder (AUD) are brain diseases.
The greatest risk factor to addiction is genetics. According to the American Psychological Association, “at least half of a person’s susceptibility to drug or alcohol addiction can be linked to genetic factors.” This doesn’t mean you’ll automatically develop SUD or AUD just because members of your family have it. After all, the choice to initially use substances or alcohol is voluntary.
However, the likelihood of developing AUD or SUD is much greater as an individual’s brain chemistry and compulsive behavior challenges are altered with repeated substance use. Addiction risk then increases exponentially if, along with genetic predisposition, additional contributing biological and environmental factors exist—such as mental illness and other co-occurring disorders, peer influence, stressors, and others.
What are some other genetic health conditions with “multifactorial” risks?
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
How many medical programs do you know offhand that continuously try to help people with these issues, without judgment, guilt, shame, or stigma?
So, when researching addiction centers for yourself or a loved one, it’s imperative to focus on those that treat addiction as a medical condition and are staffed with a wide range of health care personnel who understand the vital importance of whole-person health. This means they should provide solutions for an individual not only for their substance use, but also for their mental and physical health, reconnection to self and others, and in-depth aftercare to enable their readjustment to a substance-free life.
Reinforce Individual Care
When someone receives a diagnosis of diabetes based on blood tests and other risk factors, their physician often gives them dietary advice, plans for exercise, and other health tips, plus schedules regular follow-ups to chart their progress. They might also receive medication to better control their symptoms and resources such as professional consultations or in-person group meetings to share their success and concerns about managing the condition.
The detailed steps required to effectively treat and control this condition are exactly what you should expect at an outpatient or inpatient addiction rehabilitation facility. A unified team of board-certified health care professionals evaluates each individual based on their specific needs, and designs a strategy—usually referred to as a continuum of care plan—to address and remedy them.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that in order for treatment to be effective, it should “attend to multiple needs of the individual, not just his or her drug abuse…treatment must address the individual’s drug abuse and any associated medical, psychological, social, vocational, and legal problems. It is also important that treatment be appropriate to the individual’s age, gender, ethnicity, and culture.”
So once again, the focus on whole-person care is critical to addiction recovery. A cookie-cutter treatment approach simply won’t work, just as not one diet plan or medication will help every individual with diabetes. All of the singular components that make us who we are directly influence how we’ll heal and move forward.
During your rehab research, it’s important to discuss with each recovery center:
- The assessment process.
- How treatment is developed and why.
- What educational and support resources are available, not only for the person in treatment, but for people close to them as well.
- How the continuum of care plan evolves as an individual progresses with recovery.
Set your expectations on what center best creates the most comprehensive individual care plan. The work of sobriety and good mental health might be intense in the beginning, but knowing how much you’re supported makes all the difference.
The Value of Quality Aftercare
The battle with addiction is complicated. All too often, fewer people would suffer with it if only they could trust the support and care from the people around them. Yet a lack of connection is often one of the main contributing causes to their illness.
While support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and other 12-Step programs are an essential part of an aftercare program, they’re not the only way for people to avoid loneliness, prevent relapse, and stay connected.
Establishing a reliable sober network often starts while in rehab, then continues through organized functions such as continuing care community groups, special lectures and alumni events, and other interactive resources. This circle of never-ending connection provides the essential balance to individualized treatment and concentrated medical care: it reinforces our shared humanity on this journey.
We are Here to Help
At Willingway, our goal is to assure every person they can become a member of our extended healing family. We believe that happiness, health, and connection is not only possible, but also deserved. We welcome any questions you might have about the rehabilitation process, and have professionals available 24/7 to help.