To start: There really is not actual cure for drug addiction or alcoholism.
The word gets thrown around, because if someone is successful in recovery for a long enough period of time, then it would appear on the surface that they are effectively cured from their disease of addiction.
The real truth, however, is that if that person picks up a drink or a drug, then suddenly they are off to the races again, and their addiction will be back with a vengeance.
That is not to say that relapse is inevitable, because it is certainly possible to stay clean and sober until you die. But using the word “cure” can be a bit misleading.
That said, if you are looking to get into long term recovery and you are seeking out the best possible path for this, then you need to know what your options are.
So let's go down the list and see exactly what kind of help is available, and how those various solutions stack up. In my opinion there is an optimal solution, and we will get to that in a moment.
So let's begin at the AA meeting. This is the go to solution for many people in recovery, and it has even been the beginning point for many recovering alcoholics and addicts over the years. Simply walk into an AA meeting and start listening. Eventually you may start talking as well. And at some point someone will likely hand you some literature, such as a Big Book, and you may begin to learn about a recovery solution.
Simply going to AA is one possible solution for recovery, but I would not identify it as being a comprehensive solution. For example, say that an alcoholic notices that when they go for too long without drinking their body begins to tremble and shake. Should that person go to AA as their primary solution?
Not necessarily. Some people need more help than others, and if you are going through physical withdrawal then just going to an AA meeting may not be the best possible choice for you. We'll get to better options for that in a moment.
Another suggestion that you often hear is to go see a therapist, a counselor, or a shrink. Going to see a therapist is not a bad thing, but if this is your first foray into the world of recovery then it may not be so effective.
I know this from personal experience. When I was still struggling with drug and alcohol addiction myself, my family convinced me to start seeing a therapist. The idea going into it was that I was struggling with addiction and was willing to hear about how I might get help. The problem was that I was still heavily in denial–I would admit that I had a problem, but I would not admit that I needed a recovery solution. So in effect I was saying “yes, I know I am a drunk and a drug addict, but there is no hope for me, those programs won't work for me.” So I held this stubborn stance while also agreeing to see this counselor on a weekly basis, and all the while I continued to self medicate with my addiction. Looking back now, I realize that I had no intention of stopping at the time, and was only seeing the therapist in order to try to keep my family and friends off my back for a while.
Now do note that I am not actually arguing against the idea of seeing a therapist or a counselor. What I am saying is that if you have been actively self medicating and you have been stuck in denial and stuck in your addiction for a long time, then simply going to see a therapist is probably not the best way to get started in recovery. It is not enough. It is not disruptive enough.
Slightly more intense than seeing a therapist or a counselor once a week would be to enroll in IOP groups. IOP stands for “intensive outpatient” and this is a little bit like being in a drug rehab facility but going home to sleep each night. Many IOP groups meet 3 or up to 5 days each week. So this might be a viable option for some people who want to learn more about recovery and get some help, but I question if it is really the best path for someone who is stuck in active addiction.
The problem with outpatient groups is that you have total freedom again when you go home each day from the therapy, and your drug of choice is available to tempt you on a daily basis. It can be especially difficult to resist temptation when you are constantly surrounded by triggers.
So if meetings, counseling, and outpatient therapy are not ideal solutions, what is?
Inpatient treatment is the best solution.
I would recommend that you check into an inpatient treatment center. This is the single best choice that a struggling addict or alcoholic can possibly make for themselves, because it is the type of treatment that provides the most intensive and comprehensive solution.
So what does that mean? It means that you really cannot do any better for an alcoholic or addict who is struggling than to check them into a 28 day inpatient treatment facility. You know that they will be medically cared for and properly detoxified. You know that they will be in a safe and clean environment where there is no temptation to relapse. You know that they will walk out of rehab with a full month of sobriety under their belt and a plan for aftercare that they made with their therapist.
So while it may technically be possible for someone to get clean and sober without going to inpatient treatment, there really isn't a compelling reason to avoid this as the go to solution. Inpatient treatment gives you the most resources and the best possible chance at success.
Make no mistake: Going to inpatient treatment does not insure success. It is not a sure fire cure for addiction or alcoholism. However, it is the best possible choice for anyone who is serious about getting help for their addiction.
If you are even a little bit serious about trying to turn your life around then I would highly recommend that you call a treatment center and ask for help. Simply pick up the phone and call a rehab, any rehab, and start asking questions about how they might be able to help you. Willingness is the key. If you are serious about changing your life then you have to be willing to dive in and take positive action, and going to inpatient treatment is your best possible solution.
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