What Are the Hardest Parts of Drug Treatment?
If you’re seeking treatment for a drug addiction, you’ve already done one of the hardest things: admit you need help. For many people, it takes a lot before they’re willing to accept that they’ve lost control over their lives. Drug treatment can seem daunting, especially when you’ve been dependent on a drug to feel good for a long time. But what are the hardest parts of drug treatment?
Typically, drug treatment will combine physical and mental health treatment to deal with a multitude of symptoms. Addiction is a mental illness that also wreaks havoc on the body. When you go through treatment, your body balances itself, and you learn how to take care of your mind. This can be a difficult and even painful process, but it won’t be as painful as the addiction.
The Hardest Parts of Drug Treatment
Drug treatment exists on two levels: physical and mental. Physically, you’ll be dealing with withdrawal symptoms and physical cravings. You’ll want to take more of the drug to ease these symptoms. Medical detox can help with withdrawal by providing medications to ease cravings and supervision to prevent dangerous symptoms.
The most difficult aspect of treatment is the mental health factor. After you treat the physical dependence, you still need to tackle the mental dependence. That means exploring your mental health, realizing what you’re self-medicating for, and taking steps to make healthier choices. All of that can mean facing painful feelings that you’ve tried to bury through your substance abuse.
These are some of the aspects of drug treatment people have the hardest time with.
1. Physical Withdrawal
The first step to recovery is detox. If you want to avoid a relapse, your best bet is to enroll in a medical detox program. These programs last about one or two weeks and give you 24/7 access to medical professionals. You’ll also be prescribed medication to deal with physical withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
Detoxing at home is possible, but physical withdrawal symptoms are extremely hard to face. Most will subside in about a week after the last dose, but it will be an extremely uncomfortable week. With some substances, withdrawal can even be dangerous. Many people who attempt detox alone will relapse when the withdrawal symptoms peak.
If you’re determined to detox safely, medical detox is your best bet. The mental health professionals can coach you through the worst of the symptoms while the physical health professionals help you manage your cravings.
2. Learning to Set Boundaries
When you start undergoing your treatment, most of your mental health treatment will be education-based. You’ll be learning about addiction, what causes relapse, how other mental illness coincides with addiction, and how you can combat your addiction on an individual basis.
One of the biggest things you’ll need to learn is how to set boundaries. Many addicts don’t have a healthy sense of how to set appropriate boundaries. They let themselves be harmed by failing to make rules in their personal lives, and they may hurt other people by failing to respect their boundaries.
In many cases, a lack of ability to set boundaries is rooted in fear. It’s common for addicts to be afraid of losing their loved ones if they set healthy boundaries, which can result in codependent relationships. Trauma may also be a part of this issue.
You’ll need to examine why you have a hard time setting boundaries in your life, and then you’ll need to learn how to set and reinforce them. For people who aren’t used to setting boundaries, this can be one of the hardest aspects of treatment. But boundary setting is a form of self-care, and people who truly love you will be happy you’re taking steps to care for yourself.
3. Facing Guilt
Most addicts have done things they aren’t proud of. You’ve probably hurt people you care about, possibly unintentionally. You may have damaged relationships due to your addiction or caused harm to others.
As you explore your addiction, you’ll start to remember more and more of the behavior you might prefer to forget. You’ll have to face whatever damage you’ve caused in your personal life and take responsibility for it.
If your loved ones are open to it, it’s helpful to integrate family counseling with your drug treatment. Family counseling serves a number of potential purposes:
- You can take responsibility for past transgressions with a mediator there to help keep the discussion positive
- You can work through hurts, grudges, and any buried resentment you have toward your loved ones for ways they’ve hurt you in the past
- You can discuss your home environment and how to avoid environmental triggers
- You can learn more about addiction as a family
- You can strengthen and reaffirm your commitment to each other
Dealing with your past issues can be painful, especially when they involve guilt or trauma. However, working through them in a safe, stable environment is far better than self-medicating with substance abuse. The only way to overcome your past pain is to face it, and drug treatment gives you the tools to do so in a healthy way.
4. Learning to Take Care of Yourself
Drug addicts don’t take good care of themselves. There’s often an element of self-harm in the drug abuse. When you go through treatment, you’ll need to learn how to take care of yourself.
This involves learning about healthy coping mechanisms like creative therapies and meditation, but there’s more to it than that. You have to learn to love yourself.
Drug addiction stems from a lack of self love and self respect. In the same way you set boundaries with other people, you’ll need to set rules for yourself. You’ll need to accept that you are worth happiness and healthiness, and that you want to make the right choices to take care of yourself.
This can be the hardest part of treatment, but it’s also the most rewarding. Building a foundation of self-love is what gives you the strength to prevent future relapse.
If you want to talk about treatment options, we have trained counselors available 24/7 at 866-754-9113.