Many people presume that addiction rehab is a place that offers a “cure” to drug or alcohol dependency. And while many have gone into addiction rehab and never used their drug of choice after that, a great many are not as lucky. This is not because rehab doesn’t “work”. Overcoming addiction requires daily abstinence and an ongoing practice for life in order to remain sober. Rehab, for many, is the first place they learn exactly how to begin harnessing this practice.
In many cases, someone enters rehab when their mental, spiritual or physical state is so deteriorated, that they have no other choice but to get help. This is one of the cunning and baffling parts about addiction. Many of us won’t concede to giving our addiction up until we know we have to, which is why the addicts state prior to rehab or entering the rooms is particularly dire. The choice is either use until death or get help. So to place the process in context, a new rehabilitation client is typically grateful for the opportunity to be in a program that will care for them, teach them, and help them get onto their feet. Many people with this level of dependency will naturally require taking baby steps in order to reach lasting recovery, which may include setbacks along the journey.
But expecting that attendance alone at a rehab program or 12-step group will “cure” you is a dangerous thought. Whether you or your loved one attends a drug rehab or begins attending a 12-step fellowship group, each requires a wholehearted commitment and real personal groundwork in order to manifest lasting change.
You Will Never Be “Cured” Of Your Addiction
To be clear, and to answer this topic’s question, there is no “cure” for addiction. Rather, anyone has the power to harness the willpower, confidence and tools to avoid the desire to use their drug of choice again in the future. We use the term “recovering addicts” in the rooms as a reminder that we are always recovering, for any one of us has the potential to relapse if the circumstances present themselves. It is the tools of our personal recovery program and the supportive people within our groups that keep us sober day by day.
So rather than wondering when someone will be “cured” of their addiction, it’s more helpful to explain the passing of the “great obsession” and a general timeline of the recovery process, including different stages. The first 1-3 months can produce a lot of different outcomes. Some people are fervently dedicated to getting sober for good, and focus on it 100%. Others worry about not being “done” and perhaps impending consequences. Nevertheless, this is a time to relax, listen and learn. The great obsession, which is the conscious trait that keeps us fixated on using again, will only go away when the person recognizes that they can never use again and accepts that they have a problem that cannot be cured except through abstinence. This is the essence of steps 1 and 2.
But saying you will never use again and knowing you cannot are two different things. This is why attendance at daily meetings and beginning work with a sponsor is so critical in the initial months of sobriety. Many people claim that as they attended more meetings, they began to understand recovery better. Many more agree that working through all 12-steps showed them the error in their ways, their thoughts and their past. This also gave them a roadmap to change those errors at each turn in the future. It is usually between 6 months and a year that someone harnesses the confidence to stay “stopped” or falls back into addictive patterns, and begins the process again.
All Good Things Come in Time – And Not Without Significant Effort
There is no question that years of active addiction have left most of our personal motivation muscles atrophied. Only the intense desperation and willingness that sparked us to seek treatment in the first place will provide us with the impetus necessary to continue down the road of recovery.
Most rehab facilities across the nation, including Grassroots Treatment Center, implement an introduction to the 12-step method of recovery, taking clients to outside meetings and teaching them of the benefits of them. This is a critical first step in familiarizing the addict with a program of recovery that, if utilized continually, will help to keep them sober for a lifetime. This is also why attending 12-step fellowship groups are so important to lifelong sobriety.
What Happens After Rehab?
Many clients feel particularly motivated and prepared for the next phase of their life in recovery as they leave rehab, but this doesn’t mean it will be an easy transition or without fault. This is because the “real work” begins once they step back into a more normal lifestyle, without the security of the rehab center and it’s rules. It is up to them to continue using the tools they’ve garnered and attend meetings in order to keep what they learned in rehab fresh. The most sincere, and most devout person, can slip back into addiction without having a strong support system behind them. It is recommended to enter a sober living home following rehab for increased accountability. Speaking to a sponsor daily is also key, while continuing regular therapy meetings to work on intrinsic issues that have lead to the chemical addiction is also highly recommended.
If you put in the work, remain honest and maintain integrity and humility, there is a good chance that you will stay sober and successfully keep your disease at bay for years or even a lifetime.