What to Do If Treatment Doesn’t Meet Your Expectations

What to Do If Treatment Doesn’t Meet Your Expectations

If you respect the power of addiction, then you can enter rehab with realistic expectations for recovery

When people enter addiction treatment, their expectations may not match reality. It is easy for patients and their loved ones to believe that a few weeks in rehab is all that is needed for recovery to occur, but addiction recovery is a life-long journey. For most people, living one day at a time is the only way to get and stay clean, so rehab provides the tools people need to begin new lives free of drugs and alcohol. Once treatment ends, it is up to the individual to commit to using those tools, so go into treatment with realistic expectations to increase the chances of rehab success.

Drug Rehab Basics

When you or a loved one realizes that she needs help for drugs, then reach out to trusted friends, loved ones, members of the clergy or someone you trust to begin healing. It takes courage to recognize a problem that is bigger than yourself, so be proud of the fact that you are ready to change. The next step on the journey is to find the right rehab program for your unique situation. Most rehab programs have similar components, but the environment, expertise of the care givers and treatment approach can vary greatly. Talk to intake counselors at the various facilities you are considering to begin selecting the treatment you want. Intake counselors can help you understand the types of treatment their facilities offer and what your insurance policy will cover. Most insurance companies provide some level of treatment for addiction as long as certain conditions are met, so understand your benefits to make the right choice with rehab.

Once you choose a facility, your intake counselor will help you select either outpatient or inpatient care. Many people recovering from addiction begin with outpatient treatment, because it allows patients to live at home. Some treatment can take place while patients continue working or meeting family responsibilities, but, when more intensive treatment is needed, inpatient programs are usually the best option. Inpatient treatment allows patients to focus on recovery without outside distractions. Both inpatient and outpatient programs typically last 30, 60 and 90 days depending on insurance coverage and treatment needs, but some programs last longer.

Rehab begins with medically supervised detox, which gives the body the chance to rid itself of drugs in a safe environment. The length of time for detox varies based on the individual and the drug of choice. After detox ends, your team of doctors, psychotherapists, counselors and support staff will determine what treatment methods are right for you. If you have a personal or family history of mental illness, then your treatment team may determine that you have a Dual Diagnosis, which means you will need a combination of medication and other therapies to deal with the addiction and mental issue simultaneously. Through medication, individual, group and family therapy and other holistic approaches, addicts can learn to live drug-free.

When Treatment Doesn’t Meet Expectations

The National Institute on Drug Abuse calls drug addiction a complex illness characterized by intense cravings that cannot be controlled by willpower, even when the consequences of drug use are devastating. As a result, you must understand the power of addiction to break free of its control: if you or a loved one could simply choose to avoid drugs forever, then addiction would not be an epidemic. If you respect the power of addiction, then you can enter rehab with realistic expectations for recovery. On the other hand, if you enter rehab thinking that cravings will disappear after a few weeks, then you may become disillusioned with your treatment and want to quit too soon. Complete your program and continue in counseling and support groups to decrease the chances of relapse.

To set reasonable care expectations, the United State Centers for Disease Control states the following facts about drug addiction treatment:

  • Treatment should be readily available to individuals who need it
  • Patients must be engaged in treatment for an adequate length of time—for example, outpatient or residential programs that last for fewer than 90 days are of limited or no effectiveness for heroin addicts, and they need a minimum of 12 months of methadone maintenance treatment
  • Treatment addiction, a chronic condition, involves daily decisions about diet, exercise and medicationAddiction recovery requires a decision to stay sober one day at a time
  • Recovery is a long-term effort that often requires more than one stint in treatment
  • Addiction often occurs simultaneously with other physical or mental health problems, so treatment must consider those factors
  • Treatment programs work better if they are tailored to each person’s characteristics and needs. No single type of treatment is appropriate for everyone.
  • Treatment must be reassessed periodically to be adjusted as needed
  • Treatment helps people reduce or stop using illegal or dangerous drugs, thereby greatly improving functioning in the family, at work and in society
  • Treatment is as effective as treatment for other chronic conditions, including diabetes and asthma

The best way to succeed in treatment is to understand what treatment entails.

Find Help for Addiction

If you or a loved one struggles with drug or alcohol addiction, then call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline to speak to an admissions coordinator about treatment.