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About Addiction Recovery

Addiction Recovery

What is Addiction?

Addiction is the most significant public health problem in the US today. Its toll is far-reaching, with an estimated 18 million people engaging in problematic drinking and approximately 20% of the population using drugs non-medically. Individuals, their families, and communities are seriously impacted. The consequences of addiction are multi-dimensional and affect healthcare resources, insurance rates, employment opportunities, and the legal system (NCADD, 2015).
What is Addiction?

Causes of Addiction

Addiction is caused by a pattern of substance use that results in a psychological and/or physiological need for the substance.

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Chronic use of a substance, like alcohol, leads to neurobiological changes that affect thoughts, feelings and beliefs about using.

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Typically, this begins with obsessive thoughts about using or consuming the drug, called “craving”, where an individual feels an intense desire for the drug and feels unable to cope without using it.

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The craving phase is strengthened by drug expectancies; individuals believe that the drug enhances life experiences or improves personality flaws.

Craving is sustained because drugs have inherently rewarding properties, and casual use can become compulsive because of the positive reinforcement of a drug. This is called ‘incentive-motivation’, where the drug acts as a ‘reinforcer’ and elicits a behavioral response. Eventually, continued use results in the development of tolerance, where a larger dose is required in order to achieve the same effect or level of intoxication.

  • Tolerance is followed by withdrawal, a hallmark characteristic of addiction. It occurs when an addictive substance is abruptly stopped or the usual dose is lowered.

    • Some common symptoms of withdrawal are anxiety, sleep disturbance, restlessness, craving and emotional problems.
    • The severity of withdrawal is directly proportional to the severity of use, and can seriously compromise health and safety; requiring medical supervision in some cases. Overall, use continues as an effort to avoid the discomfort and distress of withdrawal symptoms.

Is Addiction Recovery Possible?

Recovery is possible Don't feel hopeless. Treatment options are available and can help you manage your struggle with addiction.

Illness does not discriminate and neither does recovery. Recovery is both achievable and sustainable, regardless of age, background, race, financial status, and education. However, it is important to consider that the course of recovery may involve relapse. Relapse is a fact for many, and it indicates the presence of a chronic disease rather than an individual’s failure; relapse is to be expected and managed for recovery to continue. For example, relapse rates in addiction are similar to those in diabetes, hypertension, and asthma.

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (2015), drug addiction should be “treated like any other chronic illness, with relapse serving as a trigger for renewed intervention”.

Seeking Recovery from Addiction

Many avenues and motivations lead to recovery from addiction:

  • For example, some enter treatment involuntarily through the legal system only to find themselves embracing recovery. Others have used community support and self-help groups, driven by despair and a hope for a new life, reaching out on their own to other recovering people.
  • Still others have sought the expertise and guidance of professional help in a variety of settings—from outpatient counseling to residing in a treatment facility for a time. A great many people have achieved recovery through a combination of such efforts.

Gaining access to services in the community can be done in a number of ways.

  • Healthcare providers such as family physicians, nurse practitioners, and mental health counselors can consult with you and make appropriate recommendations.
  • Public crisis and informational lines are also available to assist in emergency situations.
  • Local hospitals and addiction treatment centers offer phone screenings and information about treatment options.

  • Community resources range from private addiction treatment to public health settings. Many communities have non-profit organizations that provide clinic assistance, addiction placement services, live-in programs, halfway houses and support groups. Additionally, there are programs for veteran support, homelessness and domestic violence that are affiliated with addiction services or offer them on site.

Those who seek recovery from addiction can find hope in the many others who have successfully done so.  In 2012, for example, approximately 10%, or 23.5 million adults, in the US reported that they were in recovery from an alcohol or drug problem.

If you’re ready to start down a path towards addiction recovery, call us at 1-888-993-3112Who Answers? to find out about addiction treatment resources in your area.

Treatment for Addiction

Treatment options cover a wide range of settings, services, and intensities. These include:

  • Safe, medically assisted withdrawal and detox.
  • Individual, group and family counseling.
  • Education.
  • Relapse prevention planning.
  • Medically assisted treatment of co-occurring conditions.

Treatment most frequently occurs in stages, moving from more intensive services to those of lesser intensity as one improves. A varying level of care typically follows the course of increasing stabilization and transition to a fully substance-free life. Various settings are available to accommodate individual needs and one may change settings as improvements are made.

Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery

  • The first formal stage of recovery is withdrawal and detoxification (detox) and begins soon after abstinence – in some cases, mere hours after the last instance of substance use. The type of substance, the severity of use, and one’s health issues, determine the best course of action for coping with abstinence effects.

It may be beneficial to consult an addiction professional to establish a safe and effective withdrawal and detox plan, as withdrawal from some substances can be not only uncomfortable but quite dangerous. From there, ensuing stages of treatment can be planned.

Talking to therapist
Typically, the next stage of treatment addresses addiction-related issues. These can be highly individualized due to specific life circumstances, but there are many issues and needs common to everyone in addiction treatment. Some of these include:

  • Understanding the symptoms and dynamics of addiction
  • Addressing the emotional and psychological impact of addiction and recovery
  • Developing coping skills and strategies for life in recovery
  • Establishing a plan for transitioning from treatment
  • Creating a recovery support system
  • Developing a relapse prevention plan
  • Resuming life fully in the community

Behavioral Addiction Recovery

Behavioral addictions are those involving compulsive behavior as in a gambling or sex addiction. These are also known as ‘process addictions’—one engages in an addictive and problematic process as opposed to ingesting a substance. Since addiction is a condition that can manifest in many ‘flavors’, addiction treatment and recovery dynamics are similar in behavioral addiction and substance addiction recovery, with diverse health-care intervention options available.

Dual Diagnosis Recovery

Many who seek addiction treatment also have other mental health issues for which they need assistance. The terms dual diagnosis, dual disorders, concurrent disorders and co-occurring disorders are used synonymously to refer to the presence of both an addiction and a mental health problem. Dual diagnoses can also be made in those suffering from eating disorders and behavior addictions. Some of the most commonly found mental health problems among people with addictions are:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • PTSD
  • Bipolar Disorder

  • Treatment that deals with both conditions simultaneously is considered a best medical practice for people with dual diagnosis issues.

    • Research has shown that dual diagnosis treatment enhances the overall quality of life for those with an addiction and a mental health condition.
    • Such treatment increases medication compliance, improves psychiatric symptoms, and reduces the risk of substance use, homelessness, and hospitalization.

Specially trained providers can make a thorough assessment of your needs; create a treatment plan for a safe withdrawal and detox, and offer management services for mental health and addiction issues.

Addiction Recovery Rehabilitation Options

There is a wide range of treatment options to meet the needs of everyone seeking an addiction-free life. Some of the rehabilitation options widely available are listed below. Consultation with an addiction professional can help you determine which is best for you.


  • Sessions for individual, family and group therapy can be found in an outpatient setting. Typically these are scheduled on a weekly basis and take place in an office or clinical setting. It is important to consider whether outpatient treatment can provide you effective help at the onset of your recovery efforts.

Talking to doctor

Many choose instead to leave home for a while in order to have more structure, more support and a respite from the daily life in which the addiction developed and may still be triggered. The type of substance used, the severity of use and the timeline of use should be considered when choosing between outpatient or inpatient recovery settings

Typically, use of a substance requiring medical supervision for a safe detox requires an inpatient setting.  The likelihood of medical supervision depends on severity and time of use. In such cases, many choose outpatient services later as a ‘step down’ from more intensive services.

Both outpatient and inpatient programs vary in their services so it is important to find out what each offers. Deciding which is appropriate for you should be done in consult with an addiction professional who can help you weigh the pro’s and con’s of each treatment setting given your needs at the time.

You can reach our treatment support specialists 24/7 at 1-888-993-3112Who Answers?.


  • Hospitalization offers medical care for withdrawal and detox as well as a 24- hour medical environment. It is a good option if you have co-existing health or medical problems, a dual diagnosis or have used substances that require medical supervision for detox.

Partial Hospitalization or Intensive Outpatient Recovery

  • Partial hospitalization or an intensive outpatient recovery program (IOP) gives structure and built-in support to life at home. It is often a ‘step down’ from having been in a treatment facility or hospital. Participants attend therapy sessions for some hours per day, usually several days per week. There may be occasional appointments for medical care, however, this varies between programs.

Residential Recovery

  • This treatment option requires you to stay in a treatment center for a time. There may be some medical care, but not all programs offer medically supervised withdrawal and detox, 24 hour nursing care or daily supervision by a physician. Residential recovery centers are beneficial for those who need a lengthier period of time away from the community in order to gain momentum in their recovery.

Luxury Residential Recovery

  • Some treatment centers offer luxury accommodations such as resort-like settings in pleasing locales with private rooms and spa-like amenities. Programs vary, but there are typically services and opportunities available to compliment your recovery efforts such as massage, meditation, acupuncture, hiking, tennis or golf and specialized nutrition.

Executive Treatment

  • This treatment option is specially designed to allow executives to continue their business obligations while receiving services. Access to technology such as computers, phones, and fax machines allow executives to stay in touch and contribute to the welfare of their businesses as necessary.

How Long Will Recovery Take?

Recovery is a life-long process with new and exciting levels of growth throughout one’s life. The treatment process is just the beginning of recovery’s rewards. Typically, treatment occurs in 30-day increments, particularly in formal programs. In a treatment center, for example, one can usually opt for a 30, 60 or 90-day stay according, depending on his/her needs. At the other extreme of intensity, outpatient services can take place over a longer time if desired.

Paying for Recovery

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It may seem daunting at first, but investing in treatment can be far less expensive than the costs of maintaining an addiction. There are many options for financing treatment. These include:

  • Payment plans arranged with the treatment center.
  • Healthcare loans and credit cards from companies that specialize in healthcare financing.
  • Personal loans from a financial institution.
  • Home equity loans.
  • Personal credit cards.

Will Insurance Cover Rehab Costs?

Insurance may pay for your entire treatment or at least part of it. Your insurance carrier will have to be consulted. A referral service, or the treatment program you are considering, can help you determine what your insurance can cover in that setting.

Relapse Prevention for Lasting Recovery

Relapse happens, but it does not have to.  A thorough and detailed relapse prevention plan is a significant tool. This includes awareness of the warning signs of relapse and steps to be taken to ensure your recovery continues. Addiction education, coping strategies and recovery resources can equip you to have a sustainable recovery.

Lasting Recovery from Addiction

A comfortable and sustainable recovery is possible. With the proper treatment, you begin recovery with momentum, equipped with the knowledge and skills you need to have a lasting recovery. The rewards of recovery keep coming as you progress throughout the years. You can have the life you want, addiction-free, and keep it for the rest of your life.

Like other chronic illnesses, relapse is to be expected and addressed with continuing interventions. Relapse is not a consequence of personal or moral failings.  Rather, it is a reflection of the many profound effects of addiction upon the biological, neurological and psychological functioning of those who are addicted. Reclaiming a more stable level of functioning requires time.

Asking for help is the first step. Call us at 1-888-993-3112Who Answers? to hear about addiction treatment options, and take an important step towards lasting recovery.


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