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Complete Recovery: Inpatient Drug Rehabilitation
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The purpose of inpatient drug rehabilitation is to equip a recovering addict for living in the outside world. Many issues must be addressed during rehab, and some, but not necessarily all, are listed below:
  • Ego Strength (or “willpower”) when stressful life circumstances arise.
  • PAWS (Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome) which can occur in later recovery.
  • Balance and Maintenance.
  • Repairing Lifestyle Damage.
  • Relapse Prevention.

Addressing Ego Strength:

One of the most difficult aspects of life for recovering addicts is learning to “live in their own skin.” All recovering addicts have a great deal of remorse from the wreckage that was left behind from their addictions. A huge goal of inpatient rehab is to help addicts realize that they are not “terminally unique” in their feelings of low self-esteem, guilt, self-recrimination and remorse. Once recovering addicts undergo a few weeks of group therapy, they begin to see that they are not alone in their suffering.

Roughly 31 percent of the graduates of 30-day, inpatient treatment programs remain drug free. However, the longer the program, the higher the recovery. Treatment programs that are 6 through 18 months in length have a 75 percent success rate.

The experience of inpatient rehab is, in itself, highly conducive to recovery from drug addiction. By interacting with other recovering addicts, morning, noon and night, they see how other people deal with their struggles to recover from addiction. The group dynamic is essential for all recovering addicts both during and after formal inpatient rehabilitation.

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS):

Recovering addicts must learn about PAWS during their treatment program because they will inevitably have to deal with it at some point after they leave rehabilitation.

One symptom of PAWS is “anhedonia,” which is the inability to feel pleasure. The “pleasure center” of the brain is called the nucleus accumbens. This area is, basically, the reward circuit of the brain. Reward comes in the form of two brain chemicals, “dopamine” and “serotonin,” that give feelings of wellbeing and emotional stability. Drug addiction depletes the body’s reserves of dopamine and serotonin in the brain. Without enough of these brain chemicals, the addict feels horrible.

Most recovering addicts feel like they suddenly “hit a wall.” They can’t sleep, feel foggy and confused, want to isolate from friends and family and wish, more than anything, that they could use their previous drug of choice.

The bad news is that PAWS can last from 6 to 18 months. The good news is that it is temporary. Exercise, adequate fluid intake, moderation, twelve-step meetings and stress management techniques will get a recovering addict through this rough patch in recovery. Happiness will eventually return, and the recovering addict will feel even more committed to recovery and stronger for having endured a bout of PAWS without relapsing.

Balance and Maintenance:

Recovering addicts in drug rehabilitation learn that a balanced life of eating right, getting enough sleep, controlling emotions and interacting with other recovering addicts is imperative to staying clean and sober.

The “H-A-L-T” principle is taught to all recovering addicts in drug rehabilitation programs throughout the country.

  • H = Hungry
  • A = Angry
  • L = Lonely
  • T = Tired

The acronym, H-A-L-T, is an easy-to-remember phrase that means an addict should never become too hungry, angry, lonely or tired. Any of these four conditions can cause a recovering addict to relapse long after graduating from a drug rehabilitation program.

Repairing Lifestyle Damage:

Every recovering addict’s relationships, legal status and financial stability took a huge hit when they were actively using drugs. Rehab programs reinforce the catchy phrase, “Easy does it,” to remind recovering addicts of two important facts:

  • They didn’t get addicted in just one day.
  • It will take more than a day to clear up their “wreckage.”

Relapse Prevention:

In all drug rehabilitation programs, an addict will not graduate until he or she prepares a “rehabilitation plan.” This is a list of interventions to engage in during a future drug craving after leaving rehab.

Typical Rehab Plan:

“If I feel like using drugs again, I will do one or more of the following:”

  • Adhere to the “H-A-L-T” principle.
  • Call my twelve-step sponsor.
  • Attend a twelve-step meeting.
  • Avoid engaging in stressful activities.
  • Stay clean and sober one day at a time.

Graduates of inpatient rehab programs are equipped with a “toolbox” of strategies for staying clean and sober after they assimilate back into regular society.



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