“Across our state, we are seeing the terrible effects of heroin and prescription narcotics on our families, friends, and communities. Although more must be done, we’ve made significant progress… and with healthcare reform, a record number of families who just a few years ago had no medical coverage and limited means to regain their health, can now seek treatment for substance abuse disorders.”
~ Washington State Governor Jay Inslee
Overcoming addiction and getting the treatment you need to recover can be challenging anywhere, and addiction in Washington State is no exception. In fact, in Washington State close to 200,000 people suffer from substance abuse disorders every year. Even more striking, the vast majority of these individuals do not receive the help that they need. If you need to know more about drug and alcohol abuse in the State of Washington, consider these statistics:
- Over the course of four years, from 2009 to 2013, close to 3% of Washington State residents were considered dependent on illicit drugs
- Close to fifteen percent of all deaths in the state were due to alcohol or drugs
- More than half of those attending treatment in Washington State is there for both drug and alcohol abuse
- More than nine out of ten people in Washington State with a dependency on alcohol or drugs have not received treatment within the past year
Clearly, there are challenges in receiving addiction treatment in Washington State. If you are in Bellevue, WA or the surrounding area and seeking treatment, it is important to understand the challenges that you are likely to face throughout the treatment and recovery process. Addiction treatment may be the hardest thing you will ever have to undertake, but it is also the most important step you can take toward recovery.
“A broad range of psychosocial, medical and self-help approaches are used in treating drug abuse. Treatment approaches include inpatient and outpatient individual and group therapy and medication. Self-help approaches include 12-step groups such as Narcotics Anonymous. Most people who get into and remain in treatment stop using drugs, but 40% to 60% relapse after treatment ends.”
~ Health of Washington State Report, Drug Abuse and Overdose
There are many challenges associated with rehabilitation, addiction treatment, and the recovery process. This is true whether you live in Bellevue, WA, around the state, or anywhere else. Recovery is a highly personal experience, and your addiction treatment will vary depending on your needs, your strengths, your weaknesses, and your overarching goals. However, there are some challenges in addiction treatment that nearly everyone faces at some point in the recovery process. This is not an exhaustive list but should give you an idea of the challenges you will face in the addiction recovery process as you seek treatment in the Bellevue, WA area. Addiction treatment challenges include:
- Getting through the detoxification stage
- Learning to address basic needs during treatment
- Dealing with emotions during treatment
- Handling the possibility (and reality) of relapse in recovery
- Successfully transitioning from treatment to a home environment
Challenge #1: Getting Through Detoxification in Bellevue, WA
The first, and perhaps hardest, the step toward recovery is detox. Simply put, this is the process of ridding your physical systems of all the harmful effects that drugs or alcohol have had on your body. The longer you have struggled with addiction or alcoholism, the harder this process will be.
Detoxification begins with withdrawal symptoms, which is the first sign that your body is starting to rid itself of the poison that drugs or alcohol have introduced. Symptoms of withdrawal vary in intensity depending on the length and degree of dependency, the drug of choice, and how it was used. Withdrawal symptoms include some or all of the following:
- Anxiety or irritability
- Muscle spasms and sweating
- Lethargy and sleepiness
- Feeling disoriented or exhausted
- Difficulty concentrating
- Panic attacks
- Nausea and/or headaches
All of these symptoms can make it difficult to stay the course of recovery in the midst of detoxification. It is also the most important step you can take – once you overcome the withdrawal stage it becomes easier to develop coping skills and behaviors that help you avoid drugs and alcohol altogether. Of course, there is no easy way to get through the detox process. But consider some of the following tips in order to make withdrawal and detox more manageable as you begin your recovery process in Washington State:
- Stay distracted. Spending time with others, getting exercise, listening to music, or reading a book are all great ways to keep your mind off of the withdrawal symptoms.
- Stay committed. One of the symptoms of withdrawal is an ambivalence toward the decision to get sober in the first place. This can make staying the course difficult in the midst of extreme withdrawal symptoms. Regularly remind yourself that the symptoms are only temporary, and will go away after a few days.
- Stay safe. While it is possible to go through the withdrawal process and detoxification on your own, some people who have been dependent on drugs or alcohol for years will have a harder time with this. In some cases, medical detox is the safest option, since you are monitored by trained staff and are able to receive medication for the most extreme withdrawal symptoms. If you expect more extreme withdrawal symptoms, consider medical detox for a safe withdrawal process.
Challenge #2: Addressing Basic Needs During Treatment in Bellevue, WA
Successful treatment does not focus solely on addiction and physical dependency on drugs or alcohol. The most effective addiction treatment also addresses the basic needs of the one looking to recover completely from their addiction or alcoholism. These needs include:
- Overall health and nutrition
- Psychological and mental health
- Relationships with family, friends and loved ones
- Emergency response to suicidal thoughts
“Effective treatment attends to multiple needs of the individual, not just his or her drug abuse. To be effective, treatment must address the individual’s drug abuse and any associated medical, psychological, social, vocational, and legal problems. It is also important that treatment be appropriate to the individual’s age, gender, ethnicity, and culture.”
While it may seem apparent, unfortunately, many people tend to ignore their other needs in the early stages of rehabilitation and recovery, since they are so focused on getting sober at any cost. Treatment and recovery are holistic processes, and it is beyond important to consider your mental, physical and relational health as you begin the recovery process. Doing so will help you not only get sober through treatment but also stay sober in the long run.
Challenge #3: Dealing with Emotions During Treatment in Bellevue, WA
Experiencing emotion is a normal part of being human. Going through addiction treatment and recovery may make many of those human emotions rise to the surface, and people often have a hard time managing the anger, resentment, sadness and even despondency that they experience during the early stages of treatment. While it is not healthy to shut these emotions down completely, a crucial element of recovery is figuring out how to manage these emotions in a healthy way.
Physical sobriety is just one aspect of addiction recovery, and emotional sobriety is nearly as important. Emotional sobriety involves developing the following skills in managing your emotions:
- Understanding your emotions and how they relate to your addiction
- Being aware of how expressing your emotions can affect others
- Having the ability to reduce stress, anxiety, and anger instead of succumbing to these emotions
- Mastering communication with others in the face of high emotions
- Knowing how and when to use humor to diffuse a situation
Challenge #4: Handling Relapse in Bellevue, WA
Relapse is a very real possibility for those in the recovery process, but it should not stand in the way of long-term recovery. Succumbing to relapse can be demoralizing if you are in addiction recovery, so it is beyond important to know how to get back on the right path after this lapse in sobriety.
“Lapses often happen in the difficult early months in treatment. These brief returns to substance use can be used as a therapeutic tool; the goal is to keep them from becoming full relapses with a return to substance use. Intensive outpatient therapy clients living in the community are exposed to pressures to relapse, often while struggling with cravings and their own resistance to change. Clients need to use relapse prevention strategies when they are exposed to alcohol and drugs, experience cravings, are encouraged by others to return to substance use, or are exposed to personal relapse triggers.”
~ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency
The key to overcoming relapse in recovery is the same as addiction treatment as a whole: reintroduce discipline into your life. Here are some tips for overcoming relapse on your road to recovery in Washington State:
- Reach out for help immediately (from a friend, counselor, or sponsor)
- Do not skip treatment because of a relapse
- Avoid triggers even after relapse to avoid stumbling further
- Be honest about your relapse with others so that they can help you get back on the right path
Challenge #5: Transitioning from Treatment to Home in Bellevue, WA
For many, it can be difficult to go from the intensive treatment of an outpatient program or isolated setting of residential rehab back into their home setting. Recovering addicts and alcoholics often face triggers, social pressure, and stress that they did not have during the early stages of recovery. This is where continued treatment and group support come into the recovery process, particularly for those who do not have a healthy home environment to return to.
To help you make the transition from an intensive outpatient program or residential rehab back into your home environment, you should reach out to a support group in your area. Both Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous have local meetings all over Washington State, including in the Bellevue, WA area. The support and accountability you will find in these groups will be crucial in maintaining sobriety in the long run after leaving intensive treatment.
The first step toward recovery from addiction or alcoholism is to understand how addiction works, what needs to be done for rehabilitation, and what the challenges will be in the recovery process. Understanding the principles of effective treatment can also be a good start to overcoming the challenges highlighted above. According to the national Institute on Drug Abuse, these include the following principles:
- Addiction is a complex but treatable disease that affects brain function and behavior
- No single treatment is appropriate for everyone
- Treatment needs to be readily available
- Effective treatment attends to multiple needs of the individual, not just his or her drug abuse
- Remaining in treatment for an adequate period of time is critical.
- Behavioral therapies – including individual, family, or group counseling – are the most commonly used forms of drug abuse treatment
- Medications are an important element of treatment for many patients, especially when combined with counseling and other behavioral therapies
- An individual’s treatment and services plan must be assessed continually and modified as necessary to ensure that it meets his or her changing needs
- Many drug-addicted individuals also have other mental disorders
- Medically assisted detoxification is only the first stage of addiction treatment and by itself does little to change long-term drug abuse
- Treatment does not need to be voluntary to be effective
- Drug use during treatment must be monitored continuously, as lapses during treatment occur
All of this may seem overwhelming at first, but successful recovery requires healthy expectations for what is to come. If you have been through the recovery process and have insight into the challenges discussed here, feel free to leave a comment below. If you are considering treatment in Bellevue, WA and still have questions, do not hesitate to reach out to us today.