My Experience

Drug Rehab

I am one of the millions of people around the world who have succumbed to drugs who always believed that I have full control of it. I always thought that my addiction is just a personal choice and I could easily get rid of it anytime when I want to. I was just enjoying my life by taking drugs to make it more thrilling and take happiness to a higher level. I know I was addicted but I maintain that I can get over it with a snap.

Apparently, that was not really the case because it was drugs that had been controlling my life instead. I never really knew what I said and did that hurt anyone. I felt I was entitled to doing these things for some reason. I have a knack of rationalizing things and getting my way around. I believe that I don’t have a problem. The problem is the people around me who are way too suspicious and don’t trust my capabilities.

I never stole anything although I sold some my own stuff to get my kicks. I indeed asked for money but I promised to pay for it as soon as I get a decent job. I never hurt anybody nor attacked anybody unless I was provoked. I never blamed anybody for my life. I may not be as successful as others but this is the life that God gave me. I lived my life a day at a time and do my best I can to enjoy what God has given me. Or so I thought.

Unfortunately, you are not the only measure of your life. Some people see things that you can’t see in as much as you can see things that only you can see. I hope that by sharing with my story, I will be able to inspire others who have experienced the same life as I did and be enlightened that there is a better and more promising life than what you think you already have.

The turning point

There is usually a turning point in your life when you have to decide or are forced to decide that you need to go to rehab to fix your life. In my case, it wasn’t the first time I got arrested and jailed for possession of illegal drugs. I usually get away with it because my family has friends in law enforcement. It wasn’t also the day when I ruined my sister’s wedding day when I drew a fight against her father-in-law during the reception. After all, he started it and he never really liked me in the first place.

That unforgettable day is when I fought with some guy at a bar. He hit me with a bottle of beer in my face that drew a permanent mark on my left eye. The bottle almost blinded me and left a permanent scar in my eyes. It didn’t bother me much during the scuffle. I can’t even remember who I was fighting against. The next day however when I regain consciousness in the hospital and saw myself in the mirror, that’s when I realized that blemish on my face made me look like a true villain for the rest of my life.

My mother and sister were crying. My father was miserable, sad and disappointed. I was sorry for myself, disheartened and afraid of what the future holds me. This is the first time that I truly considered getting into rehab and perhaps fix what is left of me.

My First Days at Rehab

Like most patients, I felt hesitant, bitter, and alienated when I entered Rehab. I met a bunch of people who are strangers that’s why I chose to maintain my silence and reservations. It’s awkward and uncomfortable to share your life with a bunch of strangers. I also hated the other patients, whom I thought I am better off. At the same time, I felt alone and abandoned by my family with whom I don’t have contact whatsoever.

I especially hated the counselor and other health workers, who despite being nice, was somewhat inconsiderate and seemed indifferent in making me do things like cleaning my bed, doing exercises and making me do some old hat activities. I felt like they will laugh behind my back when I started to follow their tricks. I thought I never owe them anything nor do they have the authority and power to change me. I thought that rehab is useless and will not change me.

If there is anything you first need to realize when you enter rehab is that rehab will not change you. Changing yourself is ultimately your choice. Your change depends entirely on you. Rehab is only there to help you change and facilitate the change to get your life back.

When you start to realize this, you will open yourself to change. You will make the effort to share your life story. At first, I started sharing the things that people were expected to me to say just so I can participate. But when I started listening to what others were sharing, it started to hit me. I was particularly touched by one patient who accidentally killed his own father. I started to feel that their stories were sincere and real. Like them, I needed help and we need to help each other. Gradually, I began joining and participating in all activities to change my life.

The Withdrawal Struggle

Aside from the mental battle that you need to conquer, the other difficult challenge you need to face off is going through physical withdrawal. For one, I never truly realized that my craving is that strong. The first three days were the worst. I felt like it was the longest. Not taking drugs for three consecutive days was very difficult. You feel irritable, restless and frantic. I felt like dying. I was sweating, salivating and jittering.  While I felt tired and exhausted, I have difficulty sleeping and tend to experience nightmares during short slumbers. Oddly enough, I was very hungry. I even thought of escaping at some point.
In the succeeding days, you start to get the hang of it. However, there are still intervals in which you still experience withdrawal symptoms. However, your mental clarity will help you fight the physical symptoms.  At some point, I truly realize that I was getting crazy with drugs so I had to stand firm and overcome the feeling.
In about a week or more, I started to feel normal again and see some resemblance to my old self. By this time, I become more mentally prepared, determined and willing to accept the message of recovery. Your journey to recovery begins here.

My Daily Routine in Rehab

Rehabilitation centers provide a structured program that will essentially determine your routine inside the facility. This included a one on one personal counseling with a psychiatrist, a group therapy where you share stories with other patients, a family therapy which involves talking to family members and doing your assigned tasks, which help you back to performing daily normal activities like cleaning the bathroom.
Eating the right meal is also important to get your health back because most addicts have physically abused their bodies. Many group activities allow you to enjoy your leisure time more productively and safely such as doing exercises, sports, making artworks like meditative painting, writing journals, doing a puppet show, designing DIY postcards, among many others.
Other alternative activities help support your journey to becoming better such as spiritual activities, yoga, gardening, massage therapy, learning to play musical instruments and other opportunities. In short, you get to learn new skills while on rehab.

Back in the Real World

I finally graduated after approximately 90 days or three months and was sent back into the real world. I was instructed to continue an outpatient treatment program, which is moderate yet very important. Once you get back and stories about you circulate, you will most probably be faced again faced with the temptation of getting back on drugs.
Nothing can stop you from getting back to your addiction because you are free. This is why the outpatient treatment program is crucial. I met regularly with my counselors once a week in the first month. Sometimes, I even volunteered to be a speaker to share my experience with new patients in the rehab center to help them and continue my path to a better and more worthwhile life.
One important thing that I did when I get back in society is to avoid my old friends who are still into their old habits. While I remain friends with them, I always find a way or excuse to avoid getting invited or coming to their parties and bashes.

Recovery Works!

I consider myself as a living testament that recovery works. Rehab works if you choose to change and I chose to be sober. Today, I am now working. It may not be much but at least I get to pay my bills and live independently on my own. I spend my free time mostly with my family to make up for the lost time I was in the dark. I finally found peace. Sometimes, I visit the rehab center to give back and help others who are just starting with their journey towards recovery. My recovery was hard but it was all worth it. Your life is your choice. Change starts with you. If I was able to do it, so can you.

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How effective is drug rehab?

Drug rehabilitation is a process used for treating people who are dependent on psychoactive substances such as alcohol and drugs to recover from addictions, injuries, and even physical or mental illnesses and return to become productive members of society. This is facilitated by rehabilitation centres through numerous services including medical treatment, detoxification, and counselling, among others.
Unlike quitting smoking which you can do so voluntarily in cold turkey, quitting drugs is not a piece of cake. Addiction to alcohol and drugs especially requires intervention by health professionals to successfully treat the substance disorder. This is an important role in rehabilitation centres. It offers drug addicts an opportunity to stay in a drug-free area and undergo specifically designed therapies designed to successfully help a patient relinquish the addiction. Without underdoing proper rehabilitation, the chances of a drug addict to break their drug dependency are significantly reduced. Drug rehabilitation may not be 100% successful, but it is the most comprehensive, productive, ethical and scientifically- proven an effective alternative to treating drug addicts than incriminating or marginalizing drug addicts as menaces to society.

No standard metric of success for drug rehabilitation

There is no standard measure to assess the success rate of drug rehabilitation. The problem emanates from many reasons as follows:

The rehabilitation process is not rigid. Whereas completing the course requirements for a specific major automatically allows one to attain a certificate or degree from an academic institution. That is not the case for rehabilitation centres. Graduating from a drug rehabilitation centre is not an assurance that a former drug addict will be absolutely drug independent. Some centres use graduation as the threshold for determining success. This can justly be considered as a success because a great majority of rehab patients are unable to manage to complete a program. Others consider sobriety in the subsequent periods to measure success. The length of time a former patient remains sober may also vary. Patients, who experience lapses to drug abuse after program completion, still consider rehabilitation as successful.

The length of time, intensity and type of rehabilitation differs from one patient to another and from one rehabilitation centre to another. These factors are determined by the level of care for addiction treatment. There are basically four levels namely: Inpatient treatment which usually lasts for a month and involves meticulous medication and counselling schedule; residential treatment can last for two months and involves peer counselling; Medical Detox puts emphasis on medications and psychosocial therapy which could last for 7 months; while an Outpatient drug-free last for an average of 5 months focuses on counselling instead of medication. Thus, completing the required time of stay, and the program requirements to truly be free from drugs is different for different people. Some take longer while some require continuing support. While rehabilitation programs are usually customized for every patient that only improves the efficiency but not necessarily ensures that a former addict will remain sober.

Studies that show the effectiveness of Drug Rehabilitation

A study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a research institution of the US federal government on drug abuse and addiction showed that drug rehabilitation programs have been successful by as much as 40 to 60%. The study confirms that drug rehab has effectively reduced drug use among addicted patients, arrests related to drug criminal activities, and the risk of HIV infection. It has also increased the employment prospects of former addicts which demonstration its effectiveness in helping them go back as productive citizens of society. However, the NIDA study emphasized the treatment outcomes differ extensively depending on factors such as the depth of a patient’s underlying problems, the readiness, and motivation of the patient, intensity of a patient’s addiction, the effectiveness of treatment program to address these issues, and the degree of a patient’s involvement in the treatment process.

A related study by this office under the Executive Office of the US President confirms the effectiveness of drug rehab provided the following conditions are met: drug patients are extensively engaged and retained in treatment; support services relating to mental, physical and emotional wellbeing of patient are integrated with drug treatment; and the complex problems that cause a patient’s drug use are addressed or resolved.

A 2016 comprehensive study entitled Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health released by the US Department of Health and Human Services showed the effectiveness of drug rehab in this drug-torn country where over 130 people die of opioid overdose daily.
The study provided scientific evidence proving substance use disorders can be successfully treated, with relapse rates comparable to other chronic diseases like asthma, diabetes, and hypertension. It highlights the need for comprehensive continuing care to successfully achieve full recovery. A great majority or 90% of patients used specialty substance use disorder treatment programs (e.g. Heroin Treatment, Cocaine, and Crack Treatment, or Alcohol Treatment) Medications for alcohol (e.g. Disulfiram or Antabuse) and opioid use disorders (i.e. buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone) were also proven effective. Inpatient, residential, and outpatient treatments are cost-effective. Evidence-based behavioural therapies such as Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy, Contingency Management Intervention, and Community Reinforcement Approaches, among others are also effective in treating substance use disorders. Finally, the study highlights the importance of early detection and early intervention as the most effective way to curb substance abuse disorder and prevent the condition to progress.

How can you tell if Drug Treatment is Effective?

While many studies and personal testimonies have shown the effectiveness of drug rehab, drug patients and their relatives and friends can equally evaluate the effectiveness of a treatment program by monitoring the presence of these tell-tale signs:

The most apparent way to determine the effectiveness of drug treatment is if a patient has cut drug use in terms of frequency or dosage. Complete abstinence from use is certainly the best measure.

Estrangement from and unhealthy relationships with family and friends are a common symptom and effect of drug addiction. Treatment is effective if the patient can build or improve relationships with friends, family, spouses/ partners or colleagues.

Health abuse is an inherent consequence of substance abuse. You can tell that a treatment is working if a patient starts to regain health and hygiene. Well-being is physically reflected. You will look better when you feel better.

People suffering from substance abuse think and act irrationally. Rehab is effective if a patient becomes more sensible, realistic and judicious. Better yet, the patient possesses a positive outlook in life. This is further evinced by less personal misconduct or offense and criminal acts (e.g. racketeering, hooliganism, theft) either by omission or commission.

People with substance disorders are amiss of their normal responsibilities in life. If one still a student, the patient often suffers from low grades, drops out of class or quits school. An adult, on the other hand, is in between jobs, having quit, been fired, or laid off for not performing. Rehab works if a former drug patient improves on studies or gets employed and works better.

What to look for Drug Rehab?

If you are planning for rehabilitation whether, for yourself or a loved one, you need to select the right rehab for your specific addiction. You don’t go to a crack rehab facility when the patient is an alcoholic. You also need to make sure that the rehab provider utilizes multiple treatment methods or services in multiple contexts. Complete treatment from substance disorder is beyond complete sobriety or abstinence. Complete treatment involves comprehensive improvement in a patient’s mental, emotional, social, physical and sometimes even spiritual wellbeing, which are addressed by different services and methods. Aside from the above, you can assess the effectiveness of the rehab centre by checking on the quality of their personnel including the counsellors, who are ultimately the people who will provide the rehab service. You can check on their educational backgrounds and proper certifications from the government. Because no patient is the same, the centre should provide customized or individualized treatment for every patient. The centre should also have the needed facilities and medications for all their programs. On your end, you need to consult family or everyone who has at stake in the well-being of the patient and get their needed support. Finally, you need to consider your budget.

How long does rehab or addiction treatment last?

Rehabilitation or addiction treatment comes at various rates depending on the type of addiction, level of care, type of program used and other factors. While rehabilitation centres often provide a minimum predetermined or recommended a length of treatment, the actual treatment is a case to case basis. The treatment of a person would ultimately depend on how fast individuals progress through different programs. However, many studies have indisputably shown that good outcomes hinge on sufficient treatment length as prescribed by a program. An inpatient treatment with a minimum of 1 month stay in a rehab facility is often shorter than outpatient treatment which can last for 3 to 5 months. However, a treatment program can be lengthened if a patient requests or the centre prescribes a need for a particular patient.

What helps drug patients stay in treatment?

One major challenge of rehabilitation programs is the high dropout rate of patients. Thus, motivational techniques are needed to keep patients engaged. Within a rehab program, the need to establish a positive therapeutic relationship with patients is critical. Outside the rehab, family and friends are the no. 1 source of motivation hence the degree and frequency of their support is crucial. If necessary, coercive means of motivating a patient to stay in a treatment program can be in the form of threats such as pressure from the criminal justice system, an employer or other government agencies. It is therefore important that the treatment program developed for a patient be coordinated with family, employer, government agencies or other stakeholders. Drug rehab is worth the cost. Spending money to have a better life is always better than spending money on drugs. Having good health, completing your family and getting the life back of your loved one is priceless.