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The Benefits of Inpatient Drug Rehab

by Landmark Recovery

January 3, 2018
A woman smiling because she has completed the 12 steps of AA

What are the benefits of inpatient rehab? For a person who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, deciding to kick their habits and return to a normal life is one of the best decisions they could ever make. When you consider the number of harmful side effects, including the increased risk of death (or causing death to others while under the influence), we can see how important it is to sober up.

Nearly 90 people die each day in the United States from heroin overdoses alone. Drug and alcohol abuse has become an epidemic. The one lie abusers continuously tell themselves is: I can quit anytime I want. The truth is – addiction takes such a firm hold over their lives that they would die without the drug. To outsiders looking in, we know the drug is killing them.

What Is Dopamine?

Dopamine is the neurotransmitter in your brain responsible for giving you a natural high. You feel a surge of it after you win a race or accomplish a goal, experience any intimacy, and while experiencing everyday activities that provide you with joy and pleasure.

What’s the problem with dopamine? When you abuse drugs and alcohol your brain will start reacting to the constant influx of dopamine by producing less of it. Your brain begins to think “I don’t have to produce it anymore!” To regain the normal dopamine function, you will need more substantial amounts to achieve the same effect.

You’ve now reached tolerance, and it’s a miserable place to be. You can’t seem to get enough of your drug of choice, and you’re always on the hunt for more – it’s just never enough.

The Science Behind Addiction

For many years, addiction had a stigma around it, and it still does to this day. People view substance abuse as “a lack of willpower,” but we see people clinging to all sorts of addiction, from food and sex to narcotics and cigarettes.

Gene-Jack Wang, MD, clinical head at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, insists that addiction has more to do with a lack of adequate dopamine receptors in the brain than lack of willpower. ‘Dopamine is the chemical that makes you say ‘aah,’” he said. “It gets us to go over and grab something that will make us feel good.’

People who are potentially born with fewer dopamine brain receptors, which is part of the brain’s motivation and reward system, appear to be more driven to consume the things that trigger a dopamine release when the normal interactions fail to do so. This can be in the form of illegal drugs, but also in a more readily available ways: food high in salt, fat, and sugar.

All forms of addiction impact brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Addiction interferes with regions of the brain responsible for reward, motivation, learning, judgment, and memory.

Substance abuse damages various body systems as well as families, relationships, schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods.

Attempts to Change

This is where addiction gets tough. A lot of people believe they can conquer it by going cold turkey. They’re addicted to the substance so strongly, and as soon as they attempt to change, they go through withdrawal symptoms, get sick, and find themselves back in the same boat. At first, someone with an addiction won’t see the inherent danger in what they’re doing.

They’ve already rationalized it to the bone, and it’s nearly impossible to convince an addict that his or her life is in danger.

Between 40% and 60% of all addicts end up back on their drug of choice. That’s mainly due to the fact most aren’t really concerned with their addiction and often feel guilted into going to rehab.

They try to quit using on their own, fail, and say they gave it a shot. Some will attend a few AA meetings but lack the desire and perseverance to dedicate themselves to a 30-day rehab setting.

If you’re going to get clean, then you need to put all your time and effort into it. There is no cure for addiction, but with the right people on your side, you can lead a life of recovery, full of hope and promise.

Treatment Takes Time

It’s often underestimated how long it will take to overcome addiction. Drug and alcohol abuse rewires our brain and after years of consumption puts a lot of strain on the body. Regaining health and sense will take months, perhaps even years. You won’t wake up in a week and feel cured, in fact, it’s best to erase the word “cured” from your vocabulary. Focus on maintaining your sobriety one day at a time and don’t think too far ahead!

People born with a lack of dopamine receptors in the brain are often on the hunt for things that make them feel good. So, even when drugs are out of the picture, the addict must find a healthy way to fill that void in their life. You will need to develop new habits and incorporate structure, routines, and people who will support you in your life.

Get a Plan

An essential tool that you’ll need to develop early on in recovery is a relapse prevention plan. Think of it as a personalized guide that you refer to daily and fall back on when the urge to relapse strikes.

You can create a formal plan on paper or your computer, but you need access to it every day, and make sure to spend time studying and rehearsing it. Without strategies in place for dealing with life’s stressful moments, how will correctly you deal with them?

Think through your old behaviors and coping skills to determine more efficient and healthier ways to deal with the curve balls that will inevitably attempt to throw you off course. Take a long, hard look at your history with drugs or alcohol. How much did you use and how often? What were the consequences? What patterns can you identify?

Next, determine the signs that serve to warn you that trouble is lurking around the corner. For example, maybe Christmas time is a hard time for you, and you’ve gotten drunk every Christmas day for the last five years. You’ll need a well thought out strategy for dealing with the holidays to avoid a relapse.

Learn what your main triggers are so that you can efficiently manage them without using drugs or alcohol. Involve others that support your sobriety. Ask them to hold you accountable, and check in with them every hour on Christmas day if that’s what’s you need to stay sober.

Be specific. Rehearse. Get to know your plan.

Detox Can Be Challenging

Depending on the drug of choice, attempting to detox at home can lead to serious health issues and even death! No matter what the drug of choice is, you must go through detox to get rid of all the toxins and chemicals in your body.

The detox stage of recovery can be challenging to go through, and it usually lasts about seven days on average. It’s best to have 24/7 support. This is why the vast majority of experts recommend residential treatment programs for substance abuse.

When you detox by yourself, there’s no support structure. The people around you don’t understand your suffering. It’s hard to communicate with people who haven’t experienced addiction to drugs or alcohol personally. When you’re at a drug rehab, you will have the support system of peers who have gone through similar experiences. Your peers offer support and genuinely care about you because they’ve been in your shoes.

The Benefits of Inpatient Drug Rehab

Benefit 1: Structure

Inpatient drug and alcohol rehabs offer structure that you must have as a newly sober person. You won’t be sitting around wondering what to do because centers have planned activities that occur throughout the day.

You won’t have much free time, and that’s a good thing! Think about it. Would you instead be thinking about how to get your fix, OR become immersed in activities that take your mind off of addiction and on to positive changes that can impact your life for the better?

Benefit 2: Continuous Support

You don’t want to detox alone or go through the early stages of recovery without support and encouragement from others who understand your struggle. Since relapse often occurs early in recovery, you need people around that remind you not to give up.

If detox becomes unbearable, medical and nursing staff will provide medications to ease your suffering, and you will always be able to talk to someone about concerns or questions that arise during treatment.

Benefit 3: Limited Access to Drugs or Alcohol

An inpatient rehab means you will stay at the facility at all times. Some rehabs take patients out for AA meetings or other approved activities, but for the most part, you will be grounded at the center. During the early days of recovery, the urge to relapse is always pulling on your coat tails.

In a restricted environment, you’re protected from the nagging impulse to use drugs because security measures are in place to keep drugs and alcohol at bay. While illicit substances do make there way indoors, it’s a very infrequent occurrence.

Benefit 4: Positive Environment

If your close friends and family members are addicts, un-supportive or toxic, you’ll be relieved to hear that drug rehab centers are generally full of enthusiastic people and positive energy. We can’t guarantee that you won’t encounter an addict who is unfriendly or negative, but for the most part, you will be immersed in a supportive environment and surrounded by people that want to help you succeed in your recovery.

That’s a much better place to be in when compared to alternatives that involve being near un-supportive friends or with family members abusing drugs!

Benefit 5: You Can Find Your Zen (Or At Least Begin Too)

Think about it. You won’t be working (other than on yourself), going to school, hanging out with friends or doing much of anything except recovery-related activities.

Why not invest yourself in it? If you do, something incredible will happen.

You’ll get to know yourself; the right parts and the ugly parts too. Out of self-discovery, you will feel every conceivable emotion, many of which you’d probably like to avoid.

Go ahead and experience the journey of figuring yourself out even if it’s scary.

You can’t forgive others, forgive yourself and find peace if you don’t put in some effort to understand why you turn to illicit drugs and how you can stop using them for good. You may have been avoiding your problems for years, too scared to look in the mirror because your reflection reminds you of bad decisions and broken relationships.

In inpatient rehab, you need to stop everything else in your life and take a good look at you. Rehab is like going on a date with yourself – a very long date that lasts 30 days or more. This is an opportunity to get to know yourself better, so ask lots of questions that help you grow in knowledge about addiction and recovery.

Benefit 5: Friends

Hold up on one hand how many friends do you have. Now, hold up, on the other side, the number of real friends who wouldn’t lead you astray, intentionally hurt you, lie or encourage you to use drugs or alcohol.
Is the number the same on both hands?

Even if you don’t meet your best friends for life in rehab, you will likely make acquaintances and establish connections with others who want the same things in life that you do.

Don’t you feel lighter being surrounded by people that understand the struggles of addiction? After rehab, you might run into some of them at an AA or SMART Recovery meeting or develop a kinship with someone who provides encouragement and support to you in the future. You can’t have too many (real) friends.

Benefit 6: Therapy and Treatments

Talk much? You will once you stay in an inpatient drug rehab. You’ll slowly begin to open up to therapists’ about your life, addiction, prior traumas and coping mechanisms.

Let your guard down and open up. Drug counselors aren’t judgmental, and they want to help you understand some recovery tools that will be useful when the urge to relapse strikes.

Since you won’t be leaving the premises much, you’ll be spending free time doing holistic activities that help people through recovery. Yoga, spirituality classes, and instructor-led exercise groups are everyday activities that addicts partake in a while in rehab.

You may not like every one of them but go to every class at least once. While you may not enjoy step-aerobics or discussions about religion, the experience of learning from others will help you move forward.

Benefit 7: You’ll Earn Your Recovery Tool Kit

In inpatient drug rehab, you’ll learn how to cope with the urge to use drugs or alcohol, how to identify triggers that serve as relapse warning signs and how to manage your daily life in healthy, productive ways. Your toolkit won’t be the same as anyone else’s, but everyone in recovery has a handful of coping strategies and various tools that they can use in an instant to deal with the temptation to use, communicate better, rebuild relationships, and just live life more fully.

Inpatient drug rehab centers offer a variety of different programs. You can determine which programs are the most interesting.

Next Steps

Pay attention to the lessons you learn during treatment at an inpatient drug rehab. You’ll be going to a lot of meetings, and it’s possible that you hear some of the same information over and over. If you’re searching for rehabs in KY, or just looking to get out of town for recovery, let the experts at Landmark Recovery tell you about the treatment program that’s right for you. We have Landmark Recovery locations all over the country.

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About the Author

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery was founded with a determination to make addiction treatment accessible for all. Through our integrated treatment programs, we've helped thousands of people choose recovery over addiction and get back to life on their own terms. We're on a mission to save one million lives over the next century. We encourage all those struggling with substance use to seek professional help.