You realize you have developed an unhealthy relationship with drugs or alcohol. You seek addiction treatment, you do everything you’re supposed to do, and you get better, right? For some people, that’s exactly the way it works. Too often, however, people who go through recovery programs find themselves right back where they started, whether they return to their original addiction or develop a new substance dependency. For some, the cycle of addiction and recovery goes on for years, even decades, and each relapse chips away at your sense of hope. Chronic relapse can be crushing, causing many people with addiction to live in a constant state of struggle and sometimes give up altogether, resigning themselves to a life of substance dependency. When you have tried recovery multiple times only to be pulled back into the depths of addiction, it is easy to believe that the problem lies within you. However, the real issue is lack of comprehensive chronic relapse treatment that addresses the full scope of your condition.
Removing Addiction By Its Roots
In order to fully break free from addiction, all aspects of the illness must be addressed, most importantly the driving force behind your addictive behavior. Too often, the emphasis is on treating the symptoms while leaving the underlying causes of addiction intact. Once the seed of addiction has been planted, you can prune its leaves all you want to try to manage it, but it will keep growing back unless the roots are removed.
For many, the seed of addiction is a co-occurring mental health disorder. It is estimated that 37% of alcoholics and 53% of drug addicts have at least one serious mental illness.[1. http://www.helpguide.org/articles/addiction/substance-abuse-and-mental-health.htm] Often people turn to drugs and alcohol in an attempt to self-medicate and find relief from painful symptoms of psychological distress. Substance abuse then works to aggravate mental health problems and create new experiential stressors such as social isolation, fractured relationships, and professional losses that increase your need for escape. However, mental health disorders are often not identified as the underlying cause of addiction within recovery environments, both due to lack of knowledge and lack of disclosure. Katie McBride, a recovering alcoholic who also suffers from depression, writes, “There’s a stigma around depression […] even in my support group, where people think that taking antidepressants is somehow altering my mind (and therefore my sobriety).”[2. http://www.thebolditalic.com/articles/5610-the-big-stigma-of-being-depressed-and-sober] Recovering in an environment where people with mental health disorders are not only understood, but treated with empathy and respect, is critical to creating and maintaining sobriety.
Gaining Clarity Through Specialized Assessment
Too often, professionals treating addiction issues do not have the experience or expertise required to accurately recognize or diagnose mental health disorders, particularly as substance use itself can mask or mimic symptoms. As a result, what may be a wonderful treatment program for people with purely chemical addictions fails to address the complex needs of people with co-occurring mental illnesses. The problem is especially pronounced for people with multiple diagnoses or people who have been misdiagnosed and are not receiving the care they need to heal. In order to fully tease out addiction and mental health disorders, carefully designed assessment protocols built around in-depth understandings of both substance use and psychological conditions and the relationship between them are needed. Residential treatment facilities specializing in addiction with co-occurring mental health treatment offer an ideal environment for the implementation of progressive, staggered assessments while also allowing for close clinical observation and monitoring to gain a complete picture of your needs.
The Need for Personalized Addiction Treatment
However, understanding the problem is not enough; while accurate diagnosis is essential to informing the course of treatment, the recovery process itself must be tailored to your specific situation. In order for addiction treatment to be effective, it has to be meaningful to you; much like the way different people express and recognize love in different ways, people also connect to recovery modalities in different ways and need to find avenues of healing that speak to them. Simply going through the motions in a generic recovery program often leaves major gaps in your healing process as your full range of emotional, cognitive, physical, and spiritual needs are not adequately addressed. Personalized, holistic addiction treatment plans designed around your multiple and complex areas of struggle are critical to successful recovery to allow you to not only fully explore the psychological and experiential factors contributing to your addiction, but to fortify you against relapse in a manner that recognizes the complete scope of your needs.
The immersive nature of a close-knit therapeutic community like Alta Mira also allows you to quickly develop trusting bonds with your therapists and peers. Here, you can feel comfortable sharing emotions and experiences that you may not have been able to disclose in less welcoming recovery environments. Within a truly non-judgemental milieu of compassion, you are able safely investigate, express, and heal from the painful histories that inform your addiction.
The Critical Role of After Care Planning
The true test of recovery comes when you return home and have to carry the emotional and behavioral progress you have made in addiction treatment into your everyday life. Without a solid, realistic plan for how to successfully make this transition, you are left vulnerable to relapse. At Alta Mira, we integrate detailed after care planning in the treatment of all our of our clients to ensure that they have every resource available for successful recovery. This includes identifying potential triggers and negative influences in your life that act as obstacles to sobriety and helping you develop the skills to cope with them without returning to addictive behaviors. Our family program facilitates the creation of supportive relationships with your loved ones and identifies potentially damaging interpersonal dynamics that interfere with your ability to maintain sobriety. This program is available to you even after you leave residential care to encourage ongoing healing and to ensure that your closest social relationships are a source of comfort and solace rather than distress or enabling.
For people with a history of chronic relapse, the transition out of residential treatment often requires special care. Our intensive outpatient program allows you to gradually return to your life with the expertise and compassionate support of our clinicians and peers who share your struggle, maximizing your chances of success. Once you are ready, we can help you connect with highly skilled psychiatrists and therapists, local support groups, sober living environments, and sober coaching to ensure that the progress you have made at Alta Mira is sustained and extended far beyond your time with us.
If you have tried treatment in the past only to experience relapse, do not give up hope. Connecting with innovative, holistic chronic relapse treatment with the expertise to address your complex needs can give you the insight, tools, and guidance you need to break free from addiction once and for all.
Alta Mira offers the highest level of care for people living with addiction issues along with co-occurring mental health disorders and process addictions. Contact us today to learn more about how our world-class treatment program can help you or your loved one.
Image Source: Unsplash user Jessica Polar