The blackouts are happening more often. You wake up in a fog, finding it impossible to remember how or when you got home – if you made it at all. You may have even fallen asleep in your car, in a stranger’s home or, worse yet, on the street. Your daily routine consists of getting high, stoned, obliterated – and that’s all you think about doing.
This comes at a tremendous cost for many addicts. You may have lost your job, or are about to. You don’t care. You may have lost your spouse, children and family. None of that matters. Your friends may have abandoned you. You tell yourself you didn’t need them anyway. One day, maybe today, you wake up and wonder where all the months and years went. What happened to your life? Where did all your dreams go? How did everything go so wrong?
Once you begin to have these thoughts, it’s time to take action. Somewhere deep inside you is the desire to make a change in your life. Consider this. No one is doomed to live a life of rejection, depression and pain. You can do something about it. What might that be? Well, it involves first asking for help and, secondly, taking it. In short, you need to get yourself into treatment to overcome your addiction.
Don’t Let Excuses Deter You
Already your defense mechanisms are kicking in. They’re so loud, the statements can almost be heard. See if some of these sound familiar.
• “I don’t have a problem” (with alcohol, street or prescription drugs), you object. Clearly you do.
• “I can beat it on my own,” you rationalize. That hasn’t worked so well up to this point, has it?
• “I don’t have the time.” – With potentially no job, no family and no friends, you probably have more time than you realize, certainly enough to go into treatment.
• “I can’t afford it.” – Never let cost stand in the way of getting help. There is assistance available through federal, state and local agencies. Treatment centers also have various payment options, including sliding pay scale or ability-to-pay programs, scholarships, financial aid and loans.
• “It won’t work.” – Something has to. Why not give treatment a chance. You’ll get out of it exactly what you put into it. In fact, if you fully commit to going through the detox and treatment with as much diligence as you currently pursue drinking and/or doing drugs, you’ll have a much better chance at a successful recovery.
Types of Treatment Available
There are no one-size-fits all treatment programs for addicts. Whether your drug of choice is alcohol, illicit drugs, prescription drugs used for nonmedical purposes, inhalants, or a combination, each person has a unique set of circumstances, physical, emotional and social consequences to be dealt with. Detox will be different for each, depending on the substance abused, length of time using, and frequency of use. Treatment will also differ according to the type(s) of toxic chemicals in your system, whether or not you have a dual diagnosis (alcohol and drugs, drugs and mental problems, combination of drugs).
It’s very common that individuals who enter treatment for addiction to one substance also have multiple addictions. They also often suffer from mental problems, either brought on by their addiction or co-existing along with the addiction. These include hallucinations, paranoia, anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts or attempts, altered states of reality, bi-polar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and others. Treatment must be tailored to each individual based on numerous factors.
Treatment for addiction or dependence is available as outpatient, inpatient hospital, or residential treatment. If your dependence or addiction is relatively short-lived or recent, or you haven’t progressed in frequency of use or multiple-abuse drugs, you may be best served through outpatient treatment. For more severe addiction, inpatient hospital or residential treatment is advised. That’s because withdrawal symptoms from many substances are more than just uncomfortable. They can be life threatening. You will need medically supervised detox. It’s definitely not something you want to try on your own.
Withdrawal times also vary according to substance. The following list is not all-inclusive, but is meant to be representative.
• Narcotics withdrawal (heroin, codeine, morphine, methadone, etc.) can last from 7 to 10 days. If you are moderately addicted, you may be able to withdraw in a period of 5 to 10 days. If you are heavily addicted, you will need a withdrawal maintenance program for several months. There are medications to help with narcotics withdrawal, given by medical prescription, including buprenorphine or methadone (for heroin and morphine withdrawal), clonidine for addiction to smoking and narcotics, naloxone (to block effects of opioid overdose), suboxone (a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone), and naltrexone (to block the effects of narcotics and help reduce drug cravings).
• Withdrawal from stimulants such as cocaine, crack, methamphetamines and amphetamines typically takes 1 to 2 weeks, depending on how much of the substance has been used and how long.
• Alcohol withdrawal symptoms appear within 24 hours of the last drink and last for several days. Long-time addiction withdrawal symptoms include hallucination, dehydration, sleep disorders, tremors, nausea, and delirium tremens (DTs). Untreated, the worst-case alcohol withdrawal symptoms can result in death.
Of course, the costs and benefits of each type of treatment are something to weigh and balance. You know your own circumstances. Can you physically and mentally commit to detoxing on your own – especially given the dangerous withdrawal symptoms listed above?
Are you able to commit to going to treatment on a volunteer basis 5 days a week for the duration to get yourself straight – after you’ve gone through detox? Think of the temptations all around you. It takes a lot of determination to make a clean break from alcohol and drugs when access is so easy. For most addicts and individuals with dependence, success is more likely with either inpatient hospitalization, followed by treatment, or residential treatment. In fact, residential treatment that includes in-house, medically-supervised detoxification and a full range of treatment protocols offers perhaps the best chance of success.
How to Find A Treatment Program Right For You
Just as each individual has unique circumstances, wants and needs, treatment centers and facilities have different treatment philosophies and protocols. You need to know what’s out there that’s available and that works best for you. The first place to start is to call a treatment referral hotline. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) operates a treatment helpline at (800) 662-HELP.
You can also find a treatment center near you by visiting their treatment facility locator at //findtreatment.samhsa.gov/. There are also many resources and links available through the website, including state-by-state substance abuse agencies, FAQs, and more. The information you enter to locate a treatment facility near you is confidential and erased immediately following your exit from the site. Checking out any of the information and links doesn’t require any information to be entered, so you can browse with full assurance of your privacy.
Once you get a list of treatment facilities and centers, you need to do some research. Go to their websites, read through their philosophy, admissions process, treatment programs, additional services and facilities, cost of treatment – everything they have on the site. Make a list of questions and contact their toll-free number to get answers. When you narrow your list to 2 or 3 treatment center possibilities, make an appointment and go to check them out. Why is this important? You need to determine, by actually seeing the facility and interacting with the staff, whether or not this is a place where you feel that you can get the treatment you need. Does it feel comfortable, warm and inviting? Make sure that the facility is licensed by the state, and that the professionals are licensed and have expertise in your area of addiction. Don’t forget to inquire about exactly what will be covered in the cost of treatment, what services and programs are additional costs, whether or not the facility offers aftercare, continuing care and other services.
When Is the Best Time To Seek Treatment
Ideally, the best time is now. When you make the decision that you want to live a life that’s drug- and alcohol-free is the right time to seek treatment. Although others can try to intimidate or force you into treatment, and it may work for a while, ultimately, it’s up to you to make the tough choices and do the hard work necessary to get clean – and stay that way.
Life in recovery means that you will always be in recovery. That’s not a bad thing. Rather, it’s a statement of fact. Being in recovery, you will see that your life has a whole new range of possibilities, opportunities that were or have been closed to you for a long time. It’s quite possible that you never allowed yourself to believe in what you can do. Perhaps this is rooted in childhood trauma, alcoholic or a drug-addicted parent, a lifetime of abuse and domestic violence, scrapes with the law, losing many jobs and friends. Perhaps it’s because you just never believed you had value. All of these negative elements can be overcome through treatment and continuing participation in support groups while you are in recovery.
There are thousands of people who are recovering alcoholics and drug addicts that have come through detox and treatment and are now successfully rebuilding and reshaping their lives. They know what it feels like to be down on their knees, lost, abandoned, rejected, hopeless and stuck. They’ve been there. They will be your lifeline when you have the occasional cravings or nightmares or stresses and problems you need help to deal with. You will never be alone to suffer – if you reach out and accept their friendship and support.
Don’t let your tomorrows be a repeat of today and many yesterdays. Seize the opportunity to do the best thing you can for your future. Ask for the help you need. Investigate what it will take to get you into treatment, and go for it.
In the end, when you’re tired of checking out, that glimmer of hope that flickers before you is a clear sign that maybe now is the time to check in for treatment. You have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain.