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These very characteristics help explain why addiction is so difficult to beat without expert help and guidance. The fact that it involves compulsive substance misuse despite negative consequences, as well as the fact that it essentially rewires the brain, makes it extremely difficult to overcome through willpower alone.Rehabilitation, commonly known as just rehab, uses a combination of evidence-based treatments to address every aspect of addiction. It deals with physical dependency and drug and alcohol detox, as well as the psychological and habit-based elements of the addiction. It will help you to explore your behaviour around drugs and alcohol and the root causes of your substance misuse.
A rehab programme can also help you adopt a healthier lifestyle overall and to develop techniques and strategies that help you to stay clean and avoid relapse moving forward.
Residential rehab is the most effective way of treating a serious addiction problem but what exactly happens and what can you expect?
What Happens at Rehab?
It’s important to stress that every rehab centre is different and, even within the same rehab, treatment programmes will be individually tailored to match your own needs and situation. No two people have exactly the same recovery journey but there are some common elements and things that you would expect to find in most rehabs.
The first major part of rehab for many people is alcohol or drug detox. This is where you process the toxic elements of drugs or alcohol from your system, essentially getting clean and sober. Some people do attend rehab having already detoxed or having not used drugs or alcohol for a while, but this tends to be the exception to the rule.
The process can be accompanied by intense cravings and a wide range of physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms – which can vary depending on the substance involved, the length and heaviness of use and other factors.
These can be severe but going through detox in rehab puts you in a supervised setting with medical staff who can keep an eye on your progress and prescribe medications to help where appropriate. Some withdrawal symptoms can last for days or even weeks and you will continue to be monitored.
Detox will be followed or accompanied by a range of different treatments that will be based on a programme of psychological therapies. These treatments will aim to help you explore the root causes of your substance misuse, your behaviours, ways of thinking and responses to triggers.
They will also help you to develop a healthier lifestyle for your brain, body, and soul and to develop coping mechanisms and strategies to avoid relapse.
Alongside all this, you will also have time to relax and interact with fellow residents – all of whom will be on their own recovery journey. There may be walks, exercise sessions and structured or casual activities of different kinds. Different rehabs will have different levels of luxury and facilities.
Some may have swimming pools, gyms and spacious gardens while others may be more basic. All will be secure, comfortable and tranquil, however, providing you with the best possible environment in which to focus on your recovery.
Will I Have Therapy in Rehab?
Therapy is one of the cornerstones of a complete rehab programme but the types and exact combinations offered may vary.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is often used. This psychological technique is useful for helping you to explore the way you think and behave around drugs or alcohol and to break free from negative thought cycles.
It has been widely used to treat mental health issues such as depression and anxiety but has also been shown to be very effective in the field of drug and alcohol addiction recovery.
Other valuable therapies could include 1:1 counselling, group therapy and couples and family therapy. Other types of therapy that aim to help you adopt a healthier lifestyle could include nutritional therapy and workshops, meditation, exercise and relaxation techniques.
A healthier lifestyle can help you to maintain sobriety moving forward, as well as start to repair some of the damage that may have been caused by years of substance of misuse.
How Long Does Rehab Take?
The length of a stay in alcohol rehab can vary so there is no one answer to this question. Some detox-only or intensive rehab programmes could take a week but 28-30 days is more common and a stay of at least this length is generally thought to be more effective at treating all the different aspects of alcohol or drug addiction.
It’s also worth remembering that the support does not end the moment you leave the rehab behind. Most places offer a structured and individually tailored aftercare plan to provide vital support in the weeks and months after you leave.
This may involve catch-up group therapy sessions with some of the people you went to rehab with, one-to-one sessions with your therapists and other resources such as helplines.
A drug rehab aftercare package will typically run for 12 months and the rehab will also be able to signpost you towards other support groups, charities and resources that may be useful beyond that.
The Benefits of Private Rehab
Unlike NHS drug and alcohol programmes, which are almost always delivered on an outpatient basis, private residential rehab puts you in a safe, secure environment where you can really focus on your recovery. You will be far from your usual triggers and stresses, not to mention the people and places associated with your drinking or drug use.
The people around you will all be going through their own recovery journeys and rehab provides a safe, non-judgmental space.
You may meet people who will remain supportive friends for the rest of your life. And, while you may still face challenging times ahead, rehab will give you the best possible chance to make a full and long-lasting recovery from addiction.