Alcohol rehabilitation, or alcohol recovery treatment, basically involves the rebuilding of an individual to the point that he or she can function productively and happily without the crutch of alcohol. Successful alcohol recovery treatment enables individuals suffering from an alcohol addiction to thoroughly and honestly examine themselves with the support of medical and psychiatric professionals: their physical health, their weaknesses and strengths, their fears and insecurities, and their hopes and goals for the future. For many of these individuals, recovery treatment provides the first opportunity to honestly look at themselves, and to confront their reasons for drinking.
PHASE 1 OF ALCOHOL REHABILITATION – AWARENESS OF THE PROBLEM
The rehabilitation or recovery process actually starts before the individual enters a formal alcohol treatment program. For a successful outcome, the individual must first become aware that he or she has a problem withalcohol. This might be confirmed through problems at work or with personal relationships – problems that can be traced directly back to excessive alcohol consumption. Awareness can also be increased by comments from family members and close friends. A person’s increasing awareness of his or her personal alcohol problem can be hard to take, and may be initially denied, but repeated evidence (and the consequences) of excessive drinking eventually have to be recognized.
PHASE 2 OF ALCOHOL REHABILITATION – CONSIDERATION OF HOW TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM
Once individuals have recognized and acknowledged that they have a problem with alcohol, it becomes easier for them to see how their excessive drinking is affecting those closest to them. They begin to see that well-meaning comments on their drinking were not made to insult or hurt them, but to help. In short, individuals in this phase of rehabilitation begin to shift from a self-centered concentration on their own drinking to thoughts of how they might be negatively, or even dangerously, affecting others.
PHASE 3 OF ALCOHOL REHABILITATION – EXPLORATION OF TREATMENT OPTIONS
In this phase, individuals begin reaching out to others for help in exploring options for treatment. They may also seek out others who have successfully completed alcohol recovery treatment, and who can define what it truly means to live a sober life. Working with family members to seek out treatment programs that will meet their specific physical, mental, and spiritual needs is also a beneficial component of this phase.
PHASE 4 OF ALCOHOL REHABILITATION – EARLY RECOVERY
In no other phase of rehabilitation are individuals so vulnerable to relapse. Early recovery includes detoxification, which involves allowing the body to completely rid itself of alcohol. Depending on the severity of the individual’s alcohol addiction, the withdrawal symptoms experienced during detoxification can be unpleasant. However, these symptoms can be reduced under medical supervision. In addition, individuals in early recovery are very strongly counseled to abandon all people, places, activities, and behaviors associated with their addiction. Initially, this can give rise to all sorts of insecurities and panic as individuals are deprived of all that was familiar and essentially comforting. However, these individuals are also encouraged to make new friends, and are helped to develop new coping mechanisms and interests that have no association with drinking or addiction. Despite the real possibility of a relapse, it is in this phase that individuals begin to realize that they will be able to live a full life without resorting to alcohol.
PHASE 5 OF ALCOHOL REHABILITATION – ACTIVE RECOVERY AND MAINTENANCE
The reality of a productive life without alcohol is brought home to individuals in this phase as they realize what they must do to achieve it.They will have to work hard for the rest of their lives to consistently monitor their thoughts, apply their newly-developed coping skills, remain alert to behavioral triggers and temptations, and maintain their support systems. On the other hand, they will see the rewards of their hard work as they establish or re-establish personal relationships, handle challenges, and obtain employment using the tools they obtained during recovery.
ADDITIONAL HELP FOR ALCOHOL RECOVERY AND MAINTENANCE
For some, additional help may be needed at the end of an alcohol treatment program. A sober environment, or “half-way house” can help individuals transition back to everyday life with all of its responsibilities, challenges, and disappointments. For a successful transition, these sober environments should provide the following aspects:
Proper Supervision: The sober environment, or half-way house, must have a manager who supervises house operation, ensures the proper amount of structure, and maintains peer support.
Specific Requirements: Residents of the house must be held to specific requirements, such as attending outpatient programs or meetings each week.
Regular Drug Testing: Because there is always the possibility of relapse, regular drug testing will reduce the temptation to abuse alcohol. Should alcohol use be detected through testing, the individual can be helped back on track as soon as possible.
Responsibilities: Responsibilities can ensure structure in the residents’ lives, and can also keep them busy and away from any temptations to relapse. These responsibilities may involve chores, obtaining employment, or applying to and taking classes at local community colleges or GED programs.
Those who are struggling with an alcohol addiction can be helped to regain themselves and their lives. Recovery treatment programs are available, and the path to long-term recovery and a productive life is waiting.