When you have a problematic relationship with drugs or alcohol, you need rehab. This is the most basic fact of rehab.
It is a fact many people ignore, deny, or are scared to consider. There is nothing scary about needing help to overcome substance use issues. Addiction is a real disease that requires real, professional treatment. If substance use hasn’t yet developed into full addiction, you still need immediate, effective preventive care. So how much is too much? When are drugs or alcohol a problem? Partying too often or too hard is a sign of substance abuse, but it is not the only sign.
Addiction takes many shapes and forms. You may follow the government’s safe drinking guidelines, and you may take a prescribed amount of medication. You may still have a substance use or addiction problem. You may use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate mental health or pain symptoms. You may still have a substance use or addiction problem. Addiction affects young people, professional adults, parents, and children.
Don’t avoid rehab because your substance use doesn’t look like what you think addiction looks like. Public stigma and misconceptions create a stereotypical addict. In reality, very few people fit this expected image. Substance use problems are connected to how you feel and act around drugs. When how you think and act changes because of the substances you use, it is time to get rehab help. If you experience any negative consequences yet continue to use, it is time to get rehab help.
Basic Levels of Care
Addiction takes many shapes and forms. It affects people with different personalities and different personal histories. Addiction develops at different speeds and for different reasons. This is why there is no stereotypical addict. This is why there shouldn’t be stereotypical addiction care. Your rehab experience should be tailored to your unique recovery needs. You should enter treatment at the basic level that is right for you. Treatment exists on a continuum but typically falls into one of several broad treatment categories.
The least intensive form of substance use treatment involves a brief intervention with a medical or mental health professional.
The World Health Organization explains, “Brief interventions in primary care can range from 5 minutes of brief advice to 15-30 minutes of brief counselling. Generally, brief interventions are not intended to treat people with serious substance dependence, however, they are a valuable tool for treatment for problematic or risky substance use.”
During a brief intervention, a medical professional identifies problematic substance use, explains the health risks involved, and offers suggestions for healthier use practices or for eliminating use altogether. Don’t hesitate to voice your concerns to your doctor or other trusted health care provider.
The National Partnership on Alcohol Misuse and Crime explains, “Effective interventions for substance misuse and addiction should often, but not often enough, begin with a primary care provider before transitioning to more specialized care providers. Because it can be easier for some people to discuss concerns about the issue of substance misuse with their primary care provider it is extremely important that the provider has a basis of knowledge on the topic in order to make an accurate recommendation to their patient.”
If your doctor is familiar with rehab and addiction treatment, he or she can be an invaluable resource for immediate and continuing care. A brief intervention is an excellent time for a patient and doctor to examine whether more intensive treatment might be a better option.
More intensive treatment will involve additional sessions with medical and mental health professionals. This care may be offered in an inpatient or outpatient setting depending on your needs. You may benefit from simply adding regular therapy sessions to your regular schedule. These may occur multiple times a week, once a week, or monthly, depending on your unique needs. They may be combined with group therapy, support group meetings, and family therapy. Rehab exists on a continuum, so don’t be afraid to begin rehab at any level of care.
As the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration explains, “Clients enter treatment at a level appropriate to their needs and then step up to more intense treatment or down to less intense treatment as needed.”
A daily outpatient program may turn out to offer more support than you need. A daily outpatient program may not offer enough support between sessions.
Inpatient care provides the safest, supportive environment. This form of rehab lets you step away from the environmental and interpersonal issues that may challenge your early recovery. When you choose inpatient rehab, you give yourself time and space. You can learn and practice recovery skills so that you leave rehab able to make the right choices for a drug-free future. These choices begin with stepping down from inpatient care to less intensive outpatient or therapy sessions. Aftercare is as important as primary care.
The Journal of Addiction Medicine explains, “Substance dependence is a chronic disease requiring longitudinal care, although most patients with addictions receive no treatment (eg, detoxification only) or short-term interventions, and for other chronic diseases requiring longitudinal care (eg, diabetes, congestive heart failure), chronic disease management has been proven effective.”
Don’t cut your rehab experience short. Get the care you need, and continue to get it long after more intensive treatment ends.
Call Michael’s House at 760-548-4032 for more information about the basics of rehabilitation. We are here to help you examine your recovery needs and explore your treatment options. You don’t have to be “sick enough” to enter rehab, and you are never “too sick” for recovery. Michael’s House recognizes that every client that reaches out for help is an individual with unique recovery needs. Because Michael’s House offers customized treatment, you can find the level of care that matches your needs. You can adjust treatment as your needs change. You will also be connected to aftercare resources that will support your long-term health and empower you to find a healthy, happy, drug-free life.
 http://www.who.int/substance_abuse/activities/en/Draft_Brief_Intervention_for_Substance_Use.pdf. “Brief Intervention for Substance Use: A Manual for Use in Primary Care.” World Health Organization. 2005. Web. 27 Apr 2017.
 http://www.alcoholandcrime.org/the-voice/issues/jun13/Continuum-of-Care-The-Voice-June2013.pdf. “Treatment for Substance Use Disorders–The Continuum of Care.” National Partnership on Alcohol Misuse and Crime. Jun 2013. Web. 27 Apr 2017.
 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2756688/. “The Case for Chronic Disease Management for Addiction.” Journal of Addiction Medicine. 1 Jun 2008. Web. 27 Apr 2017.