The Importance of Urgency – Don’t Wait to Start Addiction Treatment

This article is by RCA


Drug and alcohol addiction are powerful diseases that should not be taken for granted as they can completely overtake both the body and mind. Addiction can happen to anyone. There’s a reason addiction is characterized as a chronic disease, it is influenced by genetics, it can be treated but not cured, and addiction has both medical and behavioral components, just like every other chronic medical illness. The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains that once abuse has begun, the brain’s structure and function are altered, resulting in changes that persist long after drug use has ceased.

As a chronic disease, drug and alcohol addiction should be treated with urgency and tenacity similar to other chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, or asthma. When faced with a long-term problem, a short-term fix is nothing more than a band-aid, something that needs to be reapplied again and again. A chronic disease like addiction needs more than brief attention—it needs a long-term plan and evidence-based treatment delivered by addiction trained professionals. Treatment enables people to fight addiction’s disruptive effects on their brain and behavior and regain control of their lives.

Addiction cannot be cured, but like other chronic diseases, it is treatable. Many people with addiction issues believe they have to “hit bottom” before seeking help. According to an article by A. Laudet and colleagues, recovering substance users may define “hitting bottom” as the realization of how much has been lost to substance abuse (home, health, friends, job, self-respect) and how much more will be lost if a drastic change is not made. You don’t need to make the mistake of waiting until you hit rock bottom to seek treatment. Here’s what you need to know: Rock bottom hits hard and it hits fast. Do not wait until this point to seek and benefit from treatment.

There is no one solution or treatment that works for everyone but acknowledging that your drug or alcohol use is out of control or causing problem in your life is a start.  And entering an inpatient program or outpatient program for drug and alcohol addiction is a good way to start taking back control, begin to manage your addiction and start off on the path to recovery. Some people keep trying to quit on their own, or worse, detox on their own. Detoxing without medical oversight is dangerous and rarely leads to success. In fact, many people are unaware that detoxing from an alcohol or sedative can be fatal. Reaching out for assistance, getting treatment from professional healthcare staff, is your best bet to achieving lasting recovery.

Remember the 21/90 rule—it takes 21 days to break a habit and 90 days to make that change lasting. The National Institute of health said that, research indicates that most people with addiction issues need at least 3 months in treatment to significantly reduce or stop their drug use and that the best outcomes occur with longer durations of treatment. This doesn’t mean 3 months in an inpatient program, but maybe a month followed by at least 2 months in some form of outpatient treatment. Now, this may seem like a long time to start, but if you think about what hangs in the balance, the time is worth it. As a chronic disease, recovery from addiction becomes a lifelong process. You’re getting the treatment, tools, and resources needed not just to reach recovery, but to maintain it for a lifetime.

Depending on the severity of your addiction, you may need to detox in an inpatient rehab facility with 24-hour medical care followed by an immersive residential treatment experience with no distractions. Inpatient treatment typically lasts around 30 days and includes individual, group, and family therapy. Inpatient is often followed by outpatient treatment, though some people can start their addiction treatment journey here instead.

Outpatient rehab programs come in a variety of formats and vary in terms of intensity, but all forms generally focus on counseling, education, and building a safe, supportive network of others in recovery.

To really keep momentum in your recovery, it’s best to have a support system such  a 12-step fellowship like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). These groups provide continued support through their group meetings and fellowship with other people who are dedicated to recovery.

Recovery Centers of America offers both inpatient and outpatient evidence-based rehab programs delivered by professionals who are trained in addiction medicine. Our programs and specialized services work to meet the needs of each patient—no matter how different they may be. As part of our full continuum of care, RCA facilities and our medical professionals will work with you to develop treatment that works best to get you well onto the path to recovery.

Recovery from drug and alcohol addiction may require more than one episode of treatment. The important lesson is the longer you stay in treatment and fight the disease of addiction, the better your chance for success with sobriety.

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