Choosing the Right Residential Rehab Program

Choosing the Right Residential Rehab Program

Take your time in choosing a proper rehabilitation program

In most addiction cases, the person who guides an addict to seek help is not the addict himself/herself. Rarely a drug, substance abuse, and/or an alcoholic addict is capable of deciding on his/her own that he/she needs a treatment or a recovery program. Family and friends are the ones who illuminate the addiction or abuse for a loved one and consequently either persuade or push the addict into recovery.
So what should one look for or avoid when checking out residential rehabs? Start with a thorough investigation of the facility and their recovery program. What are the credentials of the staff? Who will be the point contact with your loved one? Have your loved one do the initial footwork to find a program that might work for them and maybe take a tour of the facility to check it out. How long is the program and what is their mission statement? What do they specialize in? Alcoholism, Drug, Vicodin, Opiate addition, Meth, Marijuana, etc. How informed or kept up to date with your loved ones progress are you going to be? Are you required to attend family therapy sessions and if so what is the agenda? What does the aftercare look like? What do they suggest? Do they offer an outpatient program of their own? Do they offer custom tailored recovery program?

A few more things to consider:

1) Be mindful that the recovery business is exactly that…a business and they want your money just like any other business would. I have been to many, many addiction/recovery conferences and there are hundreds of rehabs that have rented a booth or table in order to hawk their wares. Their brochures are beautiful and often give you sticky pads, emery boards, candy or Chap Stick with their name on the outside.

2) I have always been wary of the spa type rehabs. I live in California and when I see the ads for the rehabs with symphonic music showing beautiful people dipping their toes into an infinity pool, I want to scream. I’m not saying that these may not work, but…really?

3) Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you and your loved one are very clear and in sync with the recovery program that is being presented. Investigate and understand their program. Do they map out what his/her recovery days would be consisting of?

Of course there is no guarantee that your loved one will stay clean and sober upon completion, but you want to know that they have the best fighting chance possible.
I very strongly believe in at least a six month program with six months aftercare of a sober living environment so one can slowly and hopefully learn to live life on life’s terms alcohol/drug free. There certainly aren’t any guarantees when it comes to any kind of recovery program. But make sure that both you and your loved one do as much due diligent as possible before signing a contract and forking over some hard earned cash.

Adapted from: Carole Bennett, M.A., is a family substance abuse counselor, lecturer, columnist and author based at her Family Recovery Solutions Counseling Center in Santa Barbara, CA.

Carole Bennett, M.A.

For over twenty years, Carole Bennett, M.A., has been deeply enmeshed in the world of addiction and recovery with her own family’s alcohol and drug dependency. Professionally, her Master’s in Clinical Psychology has afforded her work as a treatment counselor for the Salvation Army and the Council of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. Carole’s first book Reclaim Your Life – You and the Alcoholic/Addict, has become an invaluable guide for the family members and friends, clinicians, recovery centers as well as the alcoholic/addict themselves. It is endorsed by the President/CEO of the National Council on Alcoholism and other Drug Dependencies, Inc and is displayed and referenced at the Betty Ford Center. Carole will be the featured counselor for Al-Anons yearly magazine Al-Anon Faces Alcoholism in 2012. Carole has done numerous radio interviews across the country promoting her book and is developing programming for reality based television based on her counseling experiences.

Carole’s practice in Santa Barbara, California stretches globally as she counsels by phone as well as in person.



Picking a Rehab for Your Loved One

What to Look For in a Rehab, According to Interventionist Earl Hightower

by: Anna B. David

AD: What would you say to parents if, say, their college-aged son came home from school and it seemed clear or he told them that he was on drugs? Should they address the problem right away?

EARL HIGHTOWER: Well, let’s take the scenario even further. Let’s say the parents took him to a therapist and he blurted out in the middle of the session that he’d been doing OxyContin for the past nine months.

AD: What would you recommend parents do at that point?

EH: Let’s assume that the parents know nothing about drugs or addiction or any of this. Probably the therapist would offer a treatment plan to address his addiction and would recommend a facility that supposedly does well with treating prescription drug abuse and also provides this pertains to psychiatric care detox, rehab and discharge planning.

AD: Should the parents just accept the first recommendation or should they ask for more?

EH: I think the first question they should ask should be one they ask themselves, which is how they want their son to return.

AD: What does that mean?

EH: Well, the majority of the treatment centers out there are 12-step based, which means that the goal for them is for their clients to achieve abstinence. This would be the choice to make if the parents want to get their son back in the same condition that he was in before he got on drugs: drug-free.

AD: But you can’t say for certain that a 19-year-old who was doing Oxy for nine months is definitely an addict who will need 12-step.

EH: You can’t. Maybe he was just dabbling; treatment would be able to help determine that. But maybe treatment will prove something else—maybe treatment will prove that this wasn’t an isolated incident. Maybe he’ll get in there and confess that he’s been using pot since he was 12 and maybe other conversations will turn up the fact that there’s a genetic predisposition toward addiction in the family. And if that’s the case, I believe he will need community-based support in staying clean once he returns home. It could go either way: good ongoing clinical assessment is the backbone of early treatment to determine the direction of care.

AD: But not all rehabs recommend 12-step or even full abstinence.

EH: Yes. And that’s why parents—people—need to know is that if an addict is going to a facility which subscribes to medication-assisted treatment and recovery, the goal is different. Loved ones need to know what medication-assisted treatment really means, which is that treatment will be radically re-defined and their child could be put on a medication which he would remain on for a long time, if not the rest of his life.

AD: So that’s what you mean when you talk about parents asking themselves how they want their child to return.

EH: Yes. But I can tell you from 30 years of doing this work that most parents want their child to come home drug-free—or they at least they want a shot at that. But some members of the treatment community will tell parents—or the addicts themselves—that we have to let go of this notion of abstinence and move more in the direction of medication-assisted treatment. And that means that people who could thrive without being on anything at all are leaving treatment centers on very powerful opiate replacement drugs.

AD: I think there’s so much misinformation out there about medication that people get overwhelmed. There are sober people who tell other sober people that they shouldn’t be taking anti-depressants.

EH: Comparing anti-depressants and opiate replacement drugs is like comparing apples and battleships. One is an intoxicant and one isn’t. And I’m telling you that I’ve seen people go through every detox you can imagine—heroin, benzodiazepines, alcohol, you name it—and by far the worst detox I’ve ever seen are in those coming off of opioid-replacement drugs.

AD: But not all treatment centers keep addicts on the opiate replacements. Many use them just for detox.

EH: Many do—very successfully, I might add—but some keep the clients on these drugs through and after their discharge, telling them that they’re quote-unquote sober. And I believe that when a family sends a loved one to treatment, the expectation is that the addiction will be addressed and not replaced with a new dependency. The expectation is not that the addict will come home with no exit strategy in place to get off of the opiate replacements or have to go to the doctor once a month to continue to get those drugs. How can the answer to a pill problem be another pill?

AD: Just to play devil’s advocate for a second: why is being on an opiate replacement drug so bad? Are the odds of staying sober—meaning drinking or doing other drugs in addition to the opiate replacement drug—really that much worse?

EH: Not only is the relapse rate far worse than it is when someone is directed toward more traditional methods of treatment but also the misuse and abuse of opiate-replacement drugs is significant. A great deal of non-conflicting evidence-based research is currently surfacing, which is what drives my position.

AD: So what should parents—or any loved ones—do?

EH: They should be very careful about gathering as much information as possible about what the disease of addiction is—find out what abstinence-based treatment versus medication-assisted treatment is. They should try to find out what they can reasonably expect when their child returns.

AD: What sorts of questions should they ask the treatment centers?

EH: They should ask what the weekly schedule at the treatment center is like, what the emphasis is on—whether it’s on science, education, one-on-one therapy or group therapy. They should ask the treatment center what their goals are with clients and try to find out how individualized the care is going to be and whether or not the parents will be allowed to participate and what changes they’re likely to see in their child. And they should try to find out what they need to do to prepare for the day after treatment. Their overall goal should be to try to become a part of the solution and not be a part of the problem.

AD: Which do you think is better—an emphasis on science, education, one-on-one therapy or group therapy?

EH: I think you should try to strike a balance. Now, I’m pretty old-fashioned and so I believe that every addict should have a shot at abstinence. And I think that treatment centers should be careful about not doing anything that could block that possibility from occurring. Treatment is triage at first but once you’ve stopped the bleeding, you should be giving the patient the tools they need to progress and participate in their own recovery process.

AD: So what, exactly, should happen after detox? What are those tools?

EH: After detox, the questions that need to be asked should mostly be focused on what obstacles exist within this individual. What are the conditions he feels he needs to medicate? Is he resistant to sobriety? Does he have a co-occurring disorder? If so, can you get him in therapy to address this problem while he’s attending community-based recovery?

AD: Where does science fit in to this?

Science is very much a part of that—12-step and community support can’t do it all alone. And I believe that, as time goes on, science and 12-step will increasingly work more and more together. Scientists are making discoveries about the brain that can be quite helpful in recovery—we know now, for example, that because different parts of the brain detox at different rates, nine months of sobriety is supposed to be a low point. And I believe that at nine months, a sober addict should be hearing about that from the people he entrusted with his treatment, rather than being sent for the ninth time to a doctor to get dangerous drugs he may well not need.


by: Anna B. David

Anna David is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of AfterPartyChat, a leading addiction and recovery website, the host of the AfterPartyPod podcast and a New York Times-bestselling author of two novels and three non-fiction books, all of which focus on addiction to some degree. She has been published in The New York Times, The LA Times, Women’s Health, Details, The Huffington Post and Salon, among many others, appeared on The Today Show, The Talk, Dr Drew, Jane Velez Mitchell and The CBS Morning Show, among other programs, and frequently speaks at colleges about addiction and recovery.


The Real World of Rehab

by Susan B. Winston, LMFT in Shift Happens

I believe in rehabilitation and quasi institutionalization for addicts. It gives them a safe place to go and get clean. In truth, really complete rehabilitation is a 90-day process, and most clients can only afford the 30-day treatment. This is in large part why the relapse rate is dramatically high. A staggering 90% of treated alcoholics will relapse at least once during the one-year period following treatment. The data goes on to reveal that 80% continue drinking. Close to 62% of drug users relapse and 50% of poly-substance users relapse. The contributing factors to why the drug users and poly-substance users numbers are lower are that drugs are mostly illegal plus harder to get, and more expensive than alcohol. Alcohol is not only legal but available in stores literally across the street.

To help combat such failure rates, if you are going to enter a rehab facility, know what you are getting into. Make sure you visit and see the facility; meet the CEO and see if he really cares or is just a businessperson filling beds. Meet the doctor on call and the psychiatrist who will be assigned to your case. You do not want the initials MD to mean “more drugs.” Put another way, working with a “Dr. Feel Good” is not going to solve your problem, rather it will exacerbate it. For example, giving a meth user Adderral or Ritalin is a pertains to psychiatric care sin. A doctor that misdiagnoses conditions outside your addictionis dangerous. Check the credentials of the doctor and make sure he does not play games with your brain. Very import, ask what drug interventions the doctor prescribes during detox and as well as further down the line. Confirm the information you have gathered with your personal doctor before enrolling.

Look at the staff. Are they credentialed therapists vs. interns often used because of their lower pay grade? Assess the nursing. Is someone there overnight? What is the monitoring system, and by this I mean how often does the staff check to make sure clients are where they are supposed to be? The number of clients that “jump the fence” to go get high is significant. These are all people who came voluntarily and couldn’t make it. Sometimes a simple hourly check is enough to make sure clients stay. When someone leaves a facility without completing their program, it can be hugely depressing to the remaining residents, often having a truly devastating effect. Remember, these are not prisons. Clients are mostly here voluntarily.

The world of detox is an up and down world. Sometimes facilities are overflowing, and other times they are searching to fill the beds. Make sure you are not being urged to stay just to keep a bed filled. If you have completed your program and the pertains to psychiatric care team and your therapist agree that you stand a strong chance of not relapsing, don’t get caught in any pressure to remain. The caution though is the proven fact that the longer the treatment, the greater the opportunity to succeed.

In an industry that is rife with occupancy fluctuations, it is a common and broad practice to use independent contractors. It is certainly the case for therapists who are then become the crux of periodic staffing depletions. Put another way, staff is not guaranteed and quite possibly your personal therapist may be the one laid off. Know what you are getting into and make sure that the therapeutic relationships you form are not going to be ripped from you mid-therapy.

By way of background, transference and counter-transference, which is the relationship formed between a therapist and the patient, is a powerful part of therapy. Negotiated correctly, it can be a forceful tool in addictive recovery. At core it is the therapist who provides the behavioral therapy that is most proven to assist in treatment. Whether it is one-on-one or group, that person should remain a part of the process throughout. Ask if this is to be the case.

Rehab is not an inexpensive process but it can be lifesaving. I’m a believer, and I’m a healer. Find the help you need and be very smart about it. Most of these high-end places are absolutely beautiful. But well manicured does not mean that they have the means to the cure.

Susan B. Winston, LMFT

Susan Winston, LMFT, is an award-winning television producer, director, and writer. She has been the Executive Producer in all genres from the daily Good Morning America to the premium network weekly In The House featuring the top performers in the movie industry. She continues to have programs represented on the big four networks, in syndication, cable, and now making her way through the new media platforms working hand-in-hand developing product with national sponsors.

She also returned to graduate school to complete her education and training as a psychotherapist for the state of California. While not leaving her “day job”, Susan maintains a private counseling practice in Encino, CA and Burbank, CA, and she does this all while juggling her priorities of family, which include her husband of 35 years and her three children, the third of whom was adopted from China.


How to choose the best rehab facility

Oct 1 (Reuters) – This summer, I had the arduous and rushed task of picking a rehabilitation center for my dad, as post-operative complications left him to ill to return home at the time, yet the hospital was keen to discharge him.


This is an endeavor few people think about. Recent market research by Genesis HealthCare shows that 96 percent of people between 60 and 75 don’t expect surgery or an injury over the next year. Some 83 percent could not name a single rehabilitation center.


“There’s no brand loyalty, no preferences – and that leaves the consumer out there with an A-Z list and not knowing what to do,” says Carol Rohrbaugh, a vice president of business development for Genesis, which has more than 400 care facilities across 28 states.


After my father’s first surgery in late July, my family – pushed for time – selected a place from a list of rehab centers provided by the hospital based on location.


This would seem a logical factor to have based the decision on. However, medication didn’t arrive on time, nurses were harried and the ward overcrowded with dementia patients, who were monitored in the hallways.


In fact, there are remarkable differences among rehab facilities, which I learned after my dad required a second surgery and further rehab. Some are the dingy warehouses of everyone’s nightmares while others resemble vacation spas.


Here’s what the experts say on how you can pick the best rehab facility:




Just as you might know what hospital you’d wish to be admitted to in an emergency, consider what you’d do if you’re released from hospital but aren’t well enough to return home, advises Dr. Rebecca Boxer, a associate professor of medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora.


“When people don’t know what they don’t know, it can be a disaster,” she says.


Research can be as simple as word-of-mouth recommendations. Get past a certain age and you’re bound to know somebody who stayed at a rehab center after a hip replacement, (or whose mother did). Find out about response time to the call button, medication management and food quality.




After my dad’s second hospital stay, we did more intensive research, branching out beyond the hospital’s provided list to stand-alone rehab centers and regional specialty centers.


We checked the Medicare ratings (here) and any reviews that were available on web sites (like, but the information online was limited.


Medicare ratings can be misleading, too, says Boxer, because they measure limited criteria, like rate of flu vaccination, which has little bearing on helping my dad walk again.




Judging a place by looks can be deceiving, as fancy décor doesn’t mean there is good nursing care, says Bunni Dybnis, a certified geriatric care manager in the Los Angeles area (


“Sometimes, good to your eyes may not be good at all,” she says.


Dybnis suggests concentrating most on what the staff is doing. Are they waiting for the bell to go off or are they checking on patients constantly? What is happening at night?


There is a lot to be said for the “smell” test. The newer facilities that have spiffed up features – bistro-style dining, lounge areas with big TVs, ornate lobbies – definitely appealed to my family emotionally.




More telling are the hallways. Some traditional nursing homes I toured had rehab patients intermixed with long-term residents with serious disabilities, including dementia. That’s frightening for morale if you’re there with a broken hip.


A few had separate wings for short-term patients, with their own rehabilitation services and amenities. One was a hospital-level setting with specialty care for my dad’s condition, and one was only for rehab patients.


“Those that earmark a certain section for skilled rehab, that’s preferable than having it all mixed up with long-term care,” advises Boxer.


Two of the biggest nursing care systems, Genesis Health Systems and HCR ManorCare, are attempting to upgrade services for short-term rehab patients as they jockey for market share. Other systems are also adding new facilities.


Genesis has a growing chain of 10 Power Back centers that are for rehab only. All rooms are private, a chef prepares food in an open lobby kitchen and the TVs have 400 channels for a fee of $3 per day. (Disclosure: My dad ended up in one of these centers).


HCR ManorCare has MedBridge, short-term rehabs units among its 300 facilities in 32 states. While they’ve had these going on 10 years, they just started to conceptualize them as a product, with some in stand-alone buildings.




Care for the patient is all-inclusive on most plans, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be costs. Medicare covers 20 days at 100 percent after a qualifying hospital stay, and then charges a co-pay of $152 per day for the next 80 days.


Private insurance varies greatly, with some charging a daily co-pay of $25 to $50 and some having limits on the number of days covered.


If you’re paying out of pocket, costs run about $12,000 a month at HCR ManorCare facilities, says Julie DiCicco, manager of market development at HCR ManorCare. At-home care costs $20 per hour or more.


Incidentals can include phone and TV access, salon services, personal laundry and transport to pertains to psychiatric care appointments outside the facility.


Some experimental or “extra” therapies are not covered or only partially covered – such as Power Back’s rehab program to help people drive again, which can cost $300 to $600 out of pocket.


Family extras can add up quickly, especially if members need travel and lodging, not to mention the cost of lost time at work.


For those who can’t handle the list, there are geriatric care managers like Dybnis who work for hourly rates ranging from $80 to $135 an hour.


“A care manager in THE area where your parent is can have a lot of insight,” says Boxer, especially if you’re trying to triage care from far away. “They can be a lifesaver.”


(Editing by Lauren Young and Bernadette Baum)


Overcoming Drug Addiction

Substance Abuse Treatment, Recovery, and Help

Drug Abuse & Addiction

When you’re struggling with drug addiction, sobriety can seem like an impossible goal. But recovery is never out of reach, no matter how hopeless your situation seems. Change is possible with the right treatment and support, and by addressing the root cause of your addiction. Don’t give up—even if you’ve tried and failed before. The road to recovery often involves bumps, pitfalls, and setbacks. But by examining the problem and thinking about change, you’re already on your way.

Drug addiction treatment and recovery 1: Decide to make a change

For many people struggling with addiction, the biggest and toughest step toward recovery is the very first one: deciding to make a change. It’s normal to feel conflicted about giving up your drug of choice, even when you realize it’s causing problems in your life. Change is never easy—and committing to sobriety involves changing many things, including:

  • the way you deal with stress
  • who you allow in your life
  • what you do in your free time
  • how you think about yourself

You may wonder if you’re really ready for all that change or if you have what it takes to quit. It’s okay if you’re torn. Recovering from addiction is a long process, one that requires time, commitment, motivation, and support. As you contemplate your situation, the following tips can help you make the decision.

Thinking about change

  • Keep track of your drug use, including when and how much you use. This will give you a better sense of the role the addiction is playing in your life.
  • List the pros and cons of quitting, as well as the costs and benefits of continuing your drug abuse.
  • Consider the things that are important to you, such as your partner, your kids, your career, or your health. How does your drug use affect those things?
  • Talk it over with someone you trust. Ask the person how he or she feels about your drug use.
  • Ask yourself if there’s anything preventing you from changing. What are some things that could help you make the change?

Preparing for change: 5 key steps to addiction recovery

  1. Remind yourself of the reasons you want to change.
  2. Think about your past attempts at quitting, if any. What worked? What didn’t?
  3. Set specific, measurable goals, such as a quit date or limits on your drug use.
  4. Remove reminders of your addiction from your home and workplace.
  5. Tell friends and family that you’re quitting and ask for their support.

Drug addiction treatment and recovery 2: Explore your treatment options

Once you’ve made the decision to challenge your drug addiction, it’s time to explore your treatment choices. As you consider the options, keep the following in mind:

  • There’s no magic bullet or single treatment that works for everyone. When considering a program, remember that everyone’s needs are different. Drug addiction treatment should be customized to your unique problems and situation. It’s important that you find a program that feels right.
  • Treatment should address more than just your drug abuse. Addiction affects your whole life, including relationships, career, health, and psychological well-being. Treatment success depends on developing a new way of living and addressing the reasons why you turned to drugs in the first place. It may have been because of an inability to manage stress, in which case you’ll need to find healthy ways to handle stressful situations.
  • Commitment and follow-through are key. Drug addiction treatment is not a quick and easy process. In general, the longer and more intense the drug use, the longer and more intense the treatment you’ll need. But regardless of the treatment program’s length in weeks or months, long-term follow-up care is crucial to recovery.
  • There are many places to turn for help. Not everybody requires pertains to psychiatric care supervised detox or an extended stint in rehab. The level of care you need depends on your age, drug use history, and other pertains to psychiatric care or psychiatric conditions. In addition to doctors and psychologists, many clergy members, social workers, and counselors offer addiction treatment services.

As you seek help for drug addiction, it’s also important to get treatment for any other pertains to psychiatric care or psychological issues you’re experiencing. Your best chance of recovery is through integrated treatment for both the substance abuse problem and the mental health problem. This means getting combined mental health and addiction treatment from the same treatment provider or team.

Drug addiction treatment and recovery 3: Reach out for support

Don’t try to go it alone. Whatever treatment approach you choose, having a solid support system is essential. The more positive influences you have in your life, the better your chances for recovery. Recovering from drug addiction isn’t easy, but with people you can turn to for encouragement, guidance, and a listening ear, it’s a little less tough.

  • Lean on close friends and family – Having the support of friends and family members is an invaluable asset in recovery. If you’re reluctant to turn to your loved ones because you’ve let them down before, consider going to couples counseling or family therapy.
  • Build a sober social network – If your previous social life revolved around drugs, you may need to make some new connections. It’s important to have sober friends who will support your recovery. Try taking a class, joining a church or a civic group, volunteering, or attending events in your community.
  • Consider moving in to a sober living home – Sober living homes provide a safe, supportive place to live while you’re recovering from drug addiction. They are a good option if you don’t have a stable home or a drug-free living environment to go to.
  • Make meetings a priorityJoin a recovery support group and attend meetings regularly. Spending time with people who understand exactly what you’re going through can be very healing. You can also benefit from the shared experiences of the group members and learn what others have done to stay sober.

Drug addiction treatment and recovery 4: Learn healthy ways to cope with stress

Even once you’ve recovered from drug addiction, you’ll still have to face the problems that led to your drug problems in the first place. Did you start using drugs to numb painful emotions, calm yourself down after an argument, unwind after a bad day, or forget about your problems? After you become sober, the negative feelings that you used to dampen with drugs will resurface. For treatment to be successful, and to remain sober in the long term, you’ll need to resolve these underlying issues as well.

Conditions such as stress, loneliness, frustration, anger, shame, anxiety, and hopelessness will remain in your life even when you’re no longer using drugs to cover them up. But you will be in a healthier position to finally address them and seek the help you need.

Relieving stress without drugs

Drug abuse often stems from misguided attempts to manage stress. Many people turn to alcohol or recreational drugs to unwind and relax after a stressful day, or to cover up painful memories and emotions that cause us to feel stressed and out of balance. But there arehealthier ways to keep your stress level in check, including exercising, meditating, using sensory strategies to relax, practicing simple breathing exercises, and challenging self-defeating thoughts.

Strategies for quickly relieving stress without drugs

You may feel like doing drugs is the only way to handle unpleasant feelings, but it’s not. You can learn to get through difficulties without falling back on your addiction. Different quick stress relief strategies work better for some people than others. The key is to find the one that works best for you, and helps you calm down when you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed. When you’re confident in your ability to quickly de-stress, facing strong feelings isn’t as intimidating or overwhelming.

  • Exercise releases endorphins, relieves stress, and promotes emotional well-being. Try running in place, jumping rope, or walking around the block.
  • Step outside and savor the warm sun and fresh air. Enjoy a beautiful view or landscape.
  • Yoga and meditation are excellent ways to bust stress and find balance.
  • Play with your dog or cat, enjoying the relaxing touch of your pet’s fur.
  • Put on some calming music.
  • Light a scented candle.
  • Breathe in the scent of fresh flowers or coffee beans, or savor a scent that reminds you of a favorite vacation, such as sunscreen or a seashell.
  • Close your eyes and picture a peaceful place, such as a sandy beach. Or think of a fond memory, such as your child’s first steps or time spent with friends.
  • Make yourself a steaming cup of tea.
  • Look at favorite family photos.
  • Give yourself a neck or shoulder massage.
  • Soak in a hot bath or shower.

Drug addiction treatment and recovery 5: Keep triggers and cravings in check

While getting sober from drugs is an important first step, it’s only the beginning of the recovery process. Once sober, the brain needs time to recover and rebuild connections that have changed while addicted. During this time, drug cravings can be intense. You can support your continued sobriety by making a conscious effort to avoid people, places, and situations that trigger the urge to use:

  • Make a break from old drug buddies. Don’t make the mistake of hanging out with old friends who are still doing drugs. Surround yourself with people who support your sobriety, not those who tempt you to slip back into old, destructive habits.
  • Avoid bars and clubs, even if you don’t have a problem with alcohol. Drinking lowers inhibitions and impairs judgment, which can easily lead to relapse. Drugs are often readily available and the temptation to use can be overpowering. Also avoid any other environments and situations that you associate with drug use.
  • Be up front about your history of drug use when seeking pertains to psychiatric care treatment. If you need a pertains to psychiatric care or dental procedure done, be up front about your history and find a provider who will work with you in either prescribing alternatives or the absolute minimum medication necessary. You should never feel ashamed or humiliated about previous drug use or be denied medication for pain; if that happens, find another provider.
  • Use caution with prescription drugs. Stay away from prescription drugs with the potential for abuse or use only when necessary and with extreme caution. Drugs with a high abuse potential include painkillers, sleeping pills, and anti-anxiety medication.

Coping with drug cravings

Sometimes craving cannot be avoided, and it is necessary to find a way to cope:

  • Get involved in some distracting activity. Reading, a hobby, going to a movie, exercising (jogging, biking) are good examples of distracting activities. Once you get interested in something else, you’ll find the urges go away. Another effective response to a drug craving is eating (but be careful what you eat, as eating junk will only add stress and inches to your waistline).
  • Talk it through. Talk to friends or family members about craving when it occurs. Talking about cravings and urges can be very helpful in pinpointing the source of the craving. Also, talking about craving often helps to discharge and relieve the feeling and will help restore honesty in your relationship. Craving is nothing to feel bad about.
  • Urge surf. Many people try to cope with their urges by gritting their teeth and toughing it out. But some are just too strong to ignore. When this happens, it can be useful to stay with the urge until it passes. This technique is called urge surfing.Imagine yourself as a surfer who will ride the wave of your drug craving, staying on top of it until it crests, breaks, and turns into less powerful, foamy surf.
  • Challenge and change your thoughts. When experiencing a craving, many people have a tendency to remember only the positive effects of the drug and forget the negative consequences. Therefore, you may find it helpful to remind yourself that you really won’t feel better if you use and that you stand to lose a lot. Sometimes it is helpful to have these benefits and consequences listed on a small card that you keep with you.

Adapted from : The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Drug addiction treatment and recovery 6: Build a meaningful drug-free life

You can support your drug treatment and protect yourself from relapse by having activities and interests that provide meaning to your life. It’s important to be involved in things that you enjoy and make you feel needed. When your life is filled with rewarding activities and a sense of purpose, your addiction will lose its appeal.

  • Pick up a new hobby. Do things that challenge your creativity and spark your imagination—something you’ve always wanted to try.
  • Adopt a pet. Yes, pets are a responsibility, but caring for an animal makes you feel loved and needed. Pets can also get you out of the house for exercise.
  • Get involved in your community. Replace your addiction with drug-free groups and activities. Volunteer, become active in your church or faith community, or join a local club or neighborhood group.
  • Set meaningful goals. Having goals to work toward and something to look forward to can be powerful antidotes to drug addiction. It doesn’t matter what the goals are—whether they involve your career, your personal life, or your health—just that they are important to you.
  • Look after your health. Regular exercise, adequate sleep, and healthy eating habitshelp you keep your energy levels up and your stress levels down. When you feel good, drugs are much less of a temptation. The more you can do to stay healthy, the easier it will be to stay sober.

Drug addiction treatment and recovery 7: Don’t let relapse keep you down

Relapse is a common part of the recovery process from drug addiction. While relapse is understandably frustrating and discouraging, it can also be an opportunity to learn from your mistakes and correct your treatment course.

What causes relapse?

Various “triggers” can put people at risk of relapsing into old patterns of substance use. Causes of relapse can differ for each person. Some common ones include:

  • negative emotional states (such as anger, sadness, trauma or stress)
  • physical discomfort (such as withdrawal symptoms or physical pain)
  • positive emotional states (wanting to feel even better)
  • testing personal control (“I can have just one drink”)
  • strong temptations or urges (cravings to use)
  • conflict with others (such as an argument with a spouse or partner)
  • social pressures to use (situations where it seems as though everyone else is drinking or using other drugs)
  • good times with others (such as having fun with friends or family)

Source: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

The important thing to remember is that relapse doesn’t mean treatment failure. Rather than giving up, get back on the wagon as quickly as you can. Call your sponsor, talk to your therapist, go to a meeting, or schedule an appointment with your doctor. When you’re sober again and out of danger, look at what triggered the relapse, what went wrong, and what you could have done differently. You can choose to get back on the path to recovery and use the experience to strengthen your commitment.

More help for overcoming drug addiction

Substance abuse and recovery

Recovery support



Steps of the Addiction Rehabilitation Process

The journey to a healthy, sober life is not a quick and easy one. It is a lifelong commitment of dedication and hard work that is well worth the effort. Like any journey, the road to sobriety begins with simple steps forward. The specific steps of one’s addiction rehabilitation process will vary according to the addiction, the treatment plan used, and the individual; however, all recovery processes share certain similarities.

If you have any questions concerning the rehabilitation process or your individual journey to recovery, contact one of our treatment advisors. We are here to offer addiction help 24/7. Just call 1-888-716-9806 and we’ll answer your questions, confidentially, at any time of day or night, with no obligation. You can also click this link to contact us by email.


When it comes to addiction rehabilitation programs, there is no shortage of options out there but it’s important to find a program that is a good match for you. If you feel comfortable with the facility you’ve chosen, you’re more likely to stick with the program and see it through to its end, increasing your chances of long-term health and sobriety.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there are several things to consider when choosing a drug treatment program.
These include:

  • There is no one-size-fits-all solution to treatment. Different treatments work for different people.
  • Patients must commit enough time to treatment in order to effectively overcome their addictions.
  • Everyone should have easy access to treatment when they need it.
  • Addiction affects the way the brain works.
  • Effective treatment should address all areas of the addict’s life, not just the abuse or addiction.
  • Medicinal treatment is often necessary and should be used in conjunction with therapy.
  • Treatment plans should continually be tailored to meet the individual’s needs and circumstances.
  • Mental disorders are often linked to drug addiction and should be addressed in treatment.
  • An addict does not have to voluntarily go to treatment in order for it to be effective. Many addicts are compelled to go to rehab by the court system, family or friends, and still achieve recovery once they go through the program.
  • If patients receive medications during treatment, they must be monitored closely by staff members to ensure the medications are not abused.
  • Treatment should include warnings about the health risks of drug use, and include pertains to psychiatric care testing to ensure patients are free from infectious diseases.

Inpatient treatment programs remove addicts from their old ways of life and place them into a pertains to psychiatric care supervised treatment facility. This inpatient care helps to eliminate stress by removing the individual from temptation and the ability to relapse, both during the detox and rehabilitation processes. In most inpatient rehabilitation programs, 24-hour pertains to psychiatric care supervision during detox is provided.

Oftentimes, patients are restricted from contacting family and friends during the first portion of the rehabilitation process. This allows them to focus solely on their recovery without distractions from the outside world. Over time, family members and close friends may be invited to participate in visiting days or family therapy sessions. This helps to build the support system that is so crucial to recovering addicts once they leave the rehab facility.

Outpatient programs are very similar to inpatient programs with the exception that the addict is allowed to return home each night. If a patient has familial obligations, such as caring for children or elderly parents, outpatient care allows them to maintain some of those responsibilities. In some cases, if a patient has work obligations, they can work part-time while in outpatient care. As a general rule, the less stress, the better during treatment as it’s important for the patient’s focus to be on the recovery process. Outpatient care is best for those with short-lived addictions. It is not recommended for those with serious or long-term addictions or those with dual diagnosis conditions.

Regardless of whether you choose inpatient addiction treatment or outpatient care, the intake process will be nearly the same and conducted by a counselor at the facility. This first step uses guided diagnostic tests to determine the severity of the addiction, personal drug use history, family history, and even financial arrangements for treatment.


Most drug and all alcohol addictions require a detox program before the start of the rehabilitation program. This process of detoxification removes all traces of drugs and alcohol from the body in some cases. In other cases, maintenance medication may be given to counteract the withdrawal symptoms associated with certain drugs, such as opiate prescription drugs and heroin.

The severity of the detox process varies from person to person, depending on the substance in question, how long they took the drug and at what dosage levels, and if there are any other addictions involved. When a person takes a drug or consumes alcohol regularly, the body becomes accustomed to having certain levels of the substance in it. Once the substance is removed, the body can go into a type of shock, causing withdrawal symptoms to occur. According to the US National Library of Medicine, some withdrawal symptoms can occur immediately, but most usually occur within 24 hours after the last dose.

Withdrawal symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Extreme depression
  • Issues with concentration
  • Decreased appetite
  • Severe fatigue
  • Agitation
  • Runny nose
  • Inability to sleep
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Troubled breathing
  • Headaches
  • Muscle tension and pain
  • Seizure
  • Stroke
  • Hallucinations
  • Heart attack

The type of treatment, including any medicinal assistance, received during detox will depend on the specific type of addiction being treated. Prior to detox, patients should be assessed by professional pertains to psychiatric care personnel to determine what degree of medicinal assistance they may need during the detoxification part of rehabilitation. Certain addictions, such as those to cocaine and marijuana, may not require any medications during detox. In fact, certain addictions may not even require a detox process prior to the therapy portion of treatment. Other addictions, such as those to heroin, opiates and alcohol, often require medications to combat the severity of the withdrawal process. Medications sometimes employed during detox include:

Detoxification is generally a safe process when undergone in a supervised pertains to psychiatric care setting. Addicts should never attempt to detox on their own at home; the results could be deadly.

If you have any questions concerning detox and withdrawal during the rehabilitation process, call us at 1-888-716-9806. We can answer your questions and connect you with one of our affiliated rehab centers that can help you through the detox process.


Once an individual gets through the initial detox from drugs or alcohol, they will move on to the rehabilitation portion of the recovery process. This is where the patients get to the core reasons behind their addictions, addressing those issues so they can effectively move on with their lives without going back to drugs, alcohol or their addictive behavior.

In individual behavioral therapy, the patient will do this work by identifying when they began using the substance and why they started abusing it. The patient will receive strategies on how they can direct their time to focus on getting involved in new hobbies or interests. Time management skills will allow them to better use their time so they have less opportunity to think about relapse. Patients learn to identify triggers, and how to deal with these triggering situations when they come up. If patients have a plan for various tempting situations, they are more likely to put their plan into action and avoid relapse. This type of cognitive behavioral therapy also addresses thoughts that patients have in relation to substance abuse or life in general. It helps to reform their thinking patterns and make behavioral changes toward a healthy, sober life.

The addiction rehabilitation process usually includes group therapy. These group sessions allow the recovering addict to interact with others who are in the same situation. It is often helpful for recovering addicts to know that they are not alone in their struggles. Likewise, it can be beneficial for addicts to share their own stories of addiction and recovery, as others find solace in them. This sense of community support is integral to the recovery process.

Most addiction rehabilitation facilities offer family therapy as part of their program. Addiction is far-reaching, affecting many people rather than just the individual with the addiction. Family members are often those who are most deeply affected by their loved one’s addiction, and they are an important component of the recovery process for that person. Initially, patients may be restricted from contacting loved ones but later in the recovery process, family members are often welcomed to participate in family therapy sessions. During these sessions, family members can discuss pain caused by their loved one’s addiction and their desire to see that person live a healthy life. Family therapy can help to resolve issues so the family can serve as a pillar of support once their loved one leaves the rehabilitation facility.


After a patient has completed their rehabilitation program, they are not finished with recovery. In fact, recovery is a lifelong process that an addict must work at for the rest of their life. Sometimes, the path to lifelong recovery will be easy; other times, it will be difficult for individuals to withstand the temptation to relapse. Like anything in life, it’s a journey that may feature varying terrain so lifelong support is essential.

Prior to leaving an addiction treatment program, the patient will meet with counselors to discuss a plan for aftercare. Many addiction rehab facilities offer follow-up programs to assist the patient as they return to normal life. These may include weekend stays back at the rehab center when the individual feels a touch-up stay is needed. Or a patient may live in a sober living facility for a while with other recovering addicts before returning home. While in a sober living facility, recovering addicts perform chores, work at an outside job and participate in group therapy sessions. This offers a supportive transitional time for recovering addicts before being thrown back into “normal” life.

Many patients maintain regular therapy sessions post rehab, and some submit to scheduled drug testing as a way to keep them accountable to their sobriety. Group therapy is a wonderful method for building a support system in your local area. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are well-known 12-step groups that many recovering addicts attend on a very regular basis. Both AA and NA have meetings all across the country at easily accessible times.

There are various offsprings of the AA model for a wide range of other addictions, such as Overeaters Anonymous (OA), Emotions Anonymous (EA), Gamblers Anonymous (GA) and Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA). There are also subsets of NA for specific drugs, like Cocaine Anonymous (CA) and Crystal Meth Anonymous (CMA). Some addicts find the type of support they can get in very specific 12-step groups is more beneficial whereas other addicts gain the help they need from more general groups.

In these aftercare support groups, it’s often said that participants get what they give, so they are encouraged to interact with other group members and share their experiences with the group. Once recovering addicts are more established in their sobriety, they may choose to mentor newly recovered addicts.