Many individuals who are newly exposed to the beautiful and fulfilling world of addiction recovery believe that their journey will both begin and end with inpatient treatment. However, this could not be more far from the truth, seeing as inpatient treatment is but the very beginning of the lifelong journey of addiction recovery. Addiction is unlike many other diseases in the sense that it requires ongoing attention once it is in remission; attention by means of continual spiritual attentiveness and growth. Other chronic diseases may require constant attention if they are to be kept in remission – for example, those with diabetes must stay on top of their blood sugar levels and take necessary actions if these levels become abnormal. Diabetes, however, is a disease of the body exclusively, while addiction is a disease of the mind, body, and spirit inclusively. Like other chronic diseases, those who suffer from addiction must upkeep their health and adequately treat their symptoms for the remainder of their lives if they wish to stay in remission and avoid relapse. The difference is – those who suffer from substance dependency issues must work to maintain their spiritual (as opposed to their physical) health.
Crucial Stages of Early Recovery
Early recovery is crucial to the overall process of addiction recovery in the sense that the foundation laid will set the tone for the remainder of one’s sobriety. In most cases, early recovery can be broken down into several crucial segments. These individual stages are typically as follows:
- Inpatient Addiction Treatment
- Continual Aftercare
Depending on the individual, more stages may be required (for example, individuals with co-occurring psychological disorders may be expected to complete partial hospitalization programs upon graduation from inpatient treatment). Let’s take a closer look at each stage of early recovery to better understand why each is so crucial to the overall process.
Medically Monitored Detox
Medically monitored detox is crucial to early recovery, often required during the withdrawal phase of dependency. When an individual ceases using drugs and/or alcohol abruptly, they will inevitably experience harsh withdrawal symptoms – often so painful they quickly lead addicts back to using. Medical detox clinics are designed to keep clients physically safe, prescribing any medication necessary to avoid potentially life-threatening symptoms. They are also designed to make the overall process of withdrawal significantly more bearable.
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Inpatient Addiction Treatment
Inpatient addiction treatment is where the true recovery process begins. Clients will undergo a rigorous, therapeutically-centered schedule, geared towards uncovering and addressing underlying causes of substance dependency while treating any co-occurring disorders. The goal of inpatient treatment is to get all of the difficult therapeutic work completed in a safe and secure environment while introducing clients to the program of recovery, and instilling all of the tools and coping mechanisms necessary to maintain fulfilled sobriety for years to come.
Aftercare usually entails an extended stay at a halfway house or sober living facility. Most stays will last anywhere from 30 days to 9 months, though those who spender longer periods of time in halfway have been proven to experience much more success in maintaining long-term sobriety. Halfway houses are designed to allow clients higher levels of personal responsibility and freedom while maintaining a certain level of accountability – providing a seamless transition into everyday life without the use of drugs or alcohol.
Continual aftercare is the portion of the process that requires regular and frequent upkeep. For most recovering addicts and alcoholics, aftercare is a highly personalized and unique experience – the trick is finding what works for you and sticking to it. For many individuals, continual aftercare comes in the form of a 12-step program of recovery. The amount of dedication a program of recovery requires will vary from individual to individual. Some will choose to attend a meeting a day for the remainder of their lives, while some will find that attending a home group once a week is sufficient. It is important to avoid drawing comparisons when deciding what works best for you and your sobriety – each recovering addict is unique, and each program of spiritual recovery is highly personal. Take time to develop yours, and try to remember to trust in the process!