A common refrain of alcoholics and drug addicts is, “I can stop anytime I want.” From the perspective of someone on the outside looking in, this statement sounds like a by-product of denial. Indeed, people with addictions tend – for a period of time at least – to not recognize that they have addictions. They believe that their use of the substance is purely a choice that they have full control over. They believe that they could just as easily not use the substance.
Many people with addictions do, in fact, try to stop multiple times. They act on their belief that quitting is as simple as making the choice to not use the substance. In a few rare cases, this even works. Most of the time, though, a combination of cravings and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms drives them to use the substance again.
People who get proper treatment for their addictions are far more likely to quit successfully and permanently. But many people baulk at the idea of going into rehab. They worry about the disruption to their personal or professional lives, or they fear the stigma that is often associated with addiction and rehab. Some people resist because a part of them doesn’t really want to quit. They cannot imagine their lives without the alcohol or drugs.
What other options are there, though?
Addiction treatment is divided into three broad categories: outpatient treatment, inpatient treatment and the criminal justice system.
Obviously, nobody wants to go to prison, but the reality is that substance abuse frequently goes hand-in-hand with criminal behaviour, and addicts may find themselves behind bars. As society gains a better understanding of addiction and the way in which certain substances make people behave, more correctional facilities are providing addiction treatment for inmates with substance abuse problems. The reasoning is that if they get help for their addictions, they will no longer commit crimes, and they can be reintroduced to society.
For addicts who do not end up in the criminal justice system, outpatient addiction treatment programs are an option. These vary in terms of their intensity, with lighter programs that are mainly focused on education, and more intensive programs that involve therapy and treatment during the day and strict family supervision at night. These programs can be effective for some individuals, depending on their personalities and family situations, and the circumstances surrounding the addiction.
The most effective remedy for addictions, though, is inpatient addiction treatment where the individual is removed from his or her regular life for a period of time, and placed in a safe, supportive environment. Inpatient addiction treatment is beneficial for several reasons:
- Individuals are medically supervised through their detox process
- Addicts are able to focus on their recovery without worrying about the stresses and distractions of the outside world
- The possibility of addicts relapsing during treatment is removed
Everyone is different, and all addiction journeys are unique. While some addiction treatment methods have higher success rates than others, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Different things work for different people, and it is up to each individual – along with his or her family and doctor or therapist – to find an addiction treatment program that will have the highest chance of success.