As a society, we have come to understand that addiction is a chronic condition. We know that it requires more than just cessation of drug use and abstinence in order to successfully treat addiction. And yet, many drug rehab centers still operate under an acute care model: when clients become abstinent they are often released from treatment regardless of whether they’ve learned the skills necessary to avoid relapse or maintain recovery over time. The focus on chronic treatment for drug problems parallels the transition in health care from acute to chronic care.
The medical model of addiction was an outgrowth of the acute care model, which assumed that drug users were sick and required treatment. With this approach, hospitals or clinics would provide short-term inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation services with a goal of treating the condition and returning patients to their pre-addiction state as quickly as possible.
The transition from the acute care model to a chronic care model occurred because treating addiction as an acute condition was found to be ineffective.
Some of the biggest changes in treating addiction in recent years have come about due to a new paradigm for how substance use disorders are understood, particularly their similarities and differences with other chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension.
Initiating and maintaining abstinence (stopping using drugs) may not be enough; sometimes relapse is part of long-term recovery.
Relapse is a common occurrence in the recovery process. It is not uncommon for people to relapse several times before they achieve long-term abstinence. Relapse does not mean that treatment has failed or that you have failed. Relapse is a normal part of the recovery process and an opportunity to learn and grow. A person who relapses may need more help from his/her counselor or other treatment staff members, but this does not mean that he/she should be excluded from further services at drug rehab centers.
A relapse can be used as an opportunity to learn more about triggers and how they are managed during treatment planning. Additionally, it gives the patient an opportunity to find better ways to manage drug use and triggers after they return from residential rehabilitation (inpatient drug rehab) or outpatient addiction treatment services (outpatient drug rehab).
Drug addiction treatment must go beyond helping clients stop using drugs; it also needs to help them apply their new knowledge and skills in everyday life so that they can function well-without slipping back into old patterns of abusing drugs.
Drug Addiction Treatment: The Importance of Learning New Skills
When people are addicted to drugs, it’s usually because they’ve learned some poor coping skills for dealing with stress, boredom or difficult emotions. In therapy sessions at drug rehab centers, counselors teach clients how to identify the feelings that trigger their cravings for substances and learn healthier ways of dealing with them. They may also be taught relaxation techniques or other individualized methods that help them stay calm when facing challenges (such as getting through an exam). This kind of knowledge helps prevent relapse by giving clients tools with which they can address problems before resorting to substance abuse.