The Substance Abuse Counselor Training and Career Center

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Substance Abuse Rehabilitation

Substance abuse rehabilitation, or simply rehab, is a term reserved for the process of psychotherapeutic and medical treatment for dependency on psychoactive substances that are being used in ways and amounts not medically intended.  Extreme substance abuse brings psychological, financial, physical, legal, and social implications of a negative manner.  The general idea behind substance abuse rehabilitation is to decrease and cease these problems altogether by removing the dependency of the drugs altogether.

Substance Abuse Rehabilitation – The Why

substance abuse rehabilitationSubstance abuse rehabilitation is a necessity in the face of psychological and physical drug dependency.  The method of reducing and removing this dependency is to teach the patient new ways of living, coping, and being in a substance-free environment.  This is done by immediately removing the environmental exposure to the substance, including socially.  The user must find a new set of friends who do not associate with the drug culture.  Not only must the person stop use without straying, but they must use insight and introspection to examine the habits related to their use and change them as well.    Moderation is considered unsustainable and a failure.  Completely abstaining is the only way to ensure a full recovery, as recovery is not a goal but a process.  It is a never ending process.  It is a new lifestyle and a new life culture that must be lived every moment for the rest of the patient’s life.

Substance Abuse Rehabilitation – The Types and How

As discussed in other articles such as Substance Abuse Programs, there are several types of substance abuse rehabilitation, including inpatient treatment in residential and wilderness facilities, outpatient, local recovery support groups, sober houses and halfway houses, and there are age and gender specific programs as well.

Scientific research that has been gathered since the Seventies shows that the most effective styles of treatment attend to multiple needs of the substance abuser.  The first and foremost is detoxification.  Medically assisted detox is the first stage of a many staged treatment and by itself does not increase the probability of long-term recovery.  Medication and behavioral therapy combined helps maintain the positive gains of detoxification.  Behavioral therapy will include physical and psychological behavior.  Treatments should address all aspects of life including medical and psychological health services, as well as aftercare options.  This all occurs in a controlled environment staffed with substance abuse counselors, therapists, doctors, psychiatrists, and other trained technicians to ensure the best chance at permanent recovery without relapse.  Staying out of relapse requires the patient to truly want to break free from addiction.

Substance abuse rehabilitation is often included in the legal punishment of the criminal justice system.  Addicts convicted of minor offenses related to substance use may be made to go to rehab instead of jail or prison.  They may also be made to undergo counseling and therapy as many substance abusers are dual diagnosis patients with mental health issues as well.

Substance Abuse Rehabilitation – Approaches

Substance abuse rehabilitation has several historical approaches and different treatment centers may engage in certain types and not others.  There is the disease model of addiction that involves attending twelve-step program meetings.  This approach claims that there is a biological disease that causes addiction and it is made to flare up with environmental factors.  This insinuates the first step of the twelve, that the person is powerless over their addiction.  This requires constant maintenance therapy through recovery groups such as Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous.

There is a client-centered approach based upon the work of psychologist Carl Rogers and his three necessities and conditions of personal change.  These are unconditional positive regard, accurate empathy, and genuineness.  The therapist must be able to give these and the patient must be able to receive.  There is also the psychoanalytic approach developed by psychologist Sigmund Freud that claims that addiction and substance abuse is an unconscious reaction to the need to entertain certain sexual fantasies and a reaction to suppressing acting these fantasies out.  There are also cognitive models of substance abuse rehabilitation such as relapse prevention based on cognitive-behavioral therapy, emotional regulation, and mindfulness.  These are meant to help identify and positively react to maladaptive emotions and feelings.

There are many types of substance abuse rehabilitations and it is up to each substance abuse counselor to educate themselves on the types and levels of intensity of each in order to properly refer each client as per their needs.

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