7 Questions to Ask Before Entering Addiction Treatment

Sometimes we put off doing things because we fear the unknown. It’s normal to be nervous about the activities we haven’t experienced before and don’t know much about. If you’re thinking about getting treatment for an alcohol or drug use problem, we know you’ll have questions, and we want to answer them. Here are the seven most commonly asked questions for new clients entering addiction treatment. 


  1.  What is detox like?

Detox experiences vary based on personal factors such as the specific substances in your body, how long you’ve been using them, and your underlying health conditions. You undoubtedly know to a degree how withdrawal feels. It’s part of what prompts you to drink again or take another hit of your drug of choice. Detox is going through the withdrawal process without interrupting it with another dose of your chosen substance. 

Addictive substances produce effects on the body and brain, due in part to changes in neurotransmitter levels. The body senses the changes and adapts to maintain balance. If a drug raises the level of dopamine, for example, the body tends to react by lowering the level it produces or by making cells less receptive to it. 

If you continue using an addictive substance, the body can adapt to such a degree that it considers its presence normal. So neurotransmitter levels are more in balance when the drug is present than when it isn’t. When you stop using the substance, it takes your body a while to re-adapt to the new normal, and in the meantime, you may experience withdrawal symptoms. 

Whatever symptoms you experience, our goal is to keep you as safe and comfortable as possible while your body re-adjusts and balances itself. We have a full team of medical professionals with the experience they need to assess your progress and administer medications as necessary. We’ll monitor your vital signs and address your physical and emotional needs. 

  1. How long will I need to stay?


Your therapeutic needs will ideally dictate the length of your stay, but we realize that there are also practical factors related to things like insurance coverage and family considerations. Most people who attend a residential program at an addiction treatment center stay between 30 to 60 days. Research consistently shows a positive correlation between length of treatment and outcomes, so the longer you’re able to stay, the better. The National Institute of Drug Abuse recommends that treatment lasts at least three months.


Suppose you’re unable to stay in a residential program as long as you’d like. In that case, you may be able to maximize treatment time by attending an outpatient program after you’ve left the residential facility. Addiction support groups can also be an important part of a recovery journey, both during and after formal treatment.


  1. What programs are available?


The heart of addiction treatment is psychotherapy, both individually and in a group setting. You’ll have individual therapy sessions weekly, and they’re likely to be based on either a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) approach. CBT is based on the idea that behaviors may come from feelings, feelings from thoughts, and thoughts from core beliefs. Treatment aims to identify your personal patterns and determine if there are thoughts and core beliefs that are untrue or unhelpful and that need to be challenged.


DBT is a specific type of CBT that was originally developed to treat borderline personality disorder, but that is now used in many other situations. It focuses on skill development in the following areas:


  • Mindfulness – During mindfulness training, patients are taught to focus on the present moment and observe their thoughts and feelings without judgment. Each skills training session begins with mindfulness practice. 


  • Interpersonal effectiveness – Interpersonal effectiveness focuses on how to ask for what you need, say “no” when necessary, and deal with conflicts that arise.


  • Distress tolerance – When developing skills in distress tolerance, you learn to distract, self-soothe, improve the moment, and recognize the pros and cons of acting on your urges.


  • Emotional regulation – As part of learning emotional regulation, you’ll learn to identify and label your emotions, recognize the obstacles to changing them, reduce your vulnerability to acting from a state of “emotion mind,” and build positive experiences.

In addition to your individual counseling sessions, you’ll be able to participate in daily group therapy. A counselor will lead the discussions, but you’ll have many opportunities to share your own story and hear from others walking a similar path. Learning from others can be powerful. You may be able to see your own situation more objectively by noting how your experiences are similar and different from fellow group members.


Many people who deal with substance abuse issues also suffer from a condition like depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder, so your therapy is likely to include a focus on whatever conditions are part of your clinical picture. Research shows that the most effective treatment approach is to address all co-occurring conditions at the same time, in an integrated and harmonized manner. Addiction treatment programs that offer coordinated treatment get the best results. 


  1. Can I use my phone or computer?


People maximize their progress in addiction treatment when they’re able to give their full attention to the task of recovery. Because the phone and computer can be significant distractions, clients are asked to go without them during their rehab stay. Time in treatment is precious and is best spent identifying and addressing addiction-related issues.


Electronic devices can also be a source of stress. They may bring reminders of tasks that need to be completed, or of relationship complications. Stress can impede recovery progress and it’s wise to avoid it as much as possible when trying to heal and develop a new way of living.


In addition, electronic devices can be a source of triggering input. Especially in early recovery, drug cravings can be triggered by anything that reminds the brain of substance use. This can be overt things like pictures of drugs or people drinking or messages from people you used drugs or alcohol with. Cravings can also be triggered by much more subtle input, like a song that your brain somehow associates with substance use. 


  1. Can my family come to visit?


Family members generally have a heavy emotional investment in their loved one’s recovery journey, and including them in the process can be very beneficial. Family members can help provide the motivation their loved ones need to work at recovery and make the most of the treatment time. 


They can be encouragers and cheerleaders, acknowledging progress and celebrating it. Sometimes family relationships are strong, and sometimes they’ve been strained by addiction or other pre-existing factors. When there are conflicts, addressing them can be beneficial for everyone involved.


Currently, the restrictions imposed by COVID-19 have added some challenges to in-person family visiting, but The Right Step is offering family visitations and therapy sessions through videoconferencing. We want to encourage family participation while keeping everyone safe.


  1. What do I do after treatment?


Addiction recovery is an ongoing process, and staying connected to a support system and learning from others on the journey is vital. Self-help groups can be a valuable part of the recovery journey, both during active addiction treatment and afterward. 


Here at The Right Step Hill Country, we make after-treatment support easy, by providing the Rooted Alumni program, which is free for life to everyone who has received treatment from our facility. It involves weekly or bi-weekly meetings that may include people at all stages of their recovery journey and is an ongoing source of information, support, and encouragement. Currently, the groups are meeting virtually, through the Zoom video platform.


  1.  Can I really get sober from drugs and alcohol?


Whether or not you can truly recover is one of the most critical addiction treatment frequently asked questions.  Recovery from drug or alcohol addiction is absolutely possible, as evidenced by the millions of people who’ve done it. However, it does require ongoing management in much the same way that heart disease or diabetes does. For some people, management may involve a medication like buprenorphine or methadone. 


Sometimes people are concerned that using a drug to fight drug addiction is simply substituting one addiction for another. However, the medications used in addiction treatment are used differently than most drugs of abuse, taken in measured dosages, and have different effects on the brain.


Part of what makes drugs addictive is the cycle of intense effects, followed by a crash and craving for more. Addiction management medications are given in a way that ensures that the onset of action is gradual and stable levels are maintained in the body. Cravings diminish, and patients are able to focus on psychotherapy and other aspects of their recovery journey. There are many paths to recovery, and a combination of psychotherapy and managed medication has proven to be a successful combination for many patients. 


We know you want to make the best possible decision about where to receive addiction treatment, and we want to answer your questions and give you all the information you need to make the right choice. Here at The Right Step Hill County, we’re ready to help you get on track to a life of hope and healing. Call us today at 844.675.1628.

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