Do you think you or someone you love is an addict and/or alcoholic? Are you curious what kind of chemical dependency programs are available? Please continue to read to find out.
What is Chemical Dependency?
First of all, it is important to know that chemical dependency is a disease that is recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5th edition (DSM-5). There are people who still question that. This is a disease where a person becomes chemically dependent on a substance: drugs and/or alcohol.
As the disease progresses, the individual struggling continues to use substances even when they start to have negative consequences. These consequences can be many things, including: significant conflict in relationships, losing relationships, financial damage, physical issues like liver damage, Hepatitis C and many other medical concerns, including death.
People who become addicts are not always the stereotypical homeless person. They can be men, women, wealthy, poor, white, black . . . this disease can happen to anybody. In most cases, the individual wants to stop using substances or at least stop the negative consequences but cannot manage to do that on their own.
An addict will try many different efforts to try to “control” the use. These efforts could be: not using during work hours, only using on weekends, stopping after using a certain amount, not using when the kids are home, or switching substances.
There are so many ways an addict is going to try to control their substance use, but in most cases they will completely fail any attempt to control their use. This is very common when you are dealing with somebody who is chemically dependent.
Stopping use of substances is more complicated than one would think. Unfortunately, there are people out there who think it is primarily an issue of willpower, but it is not that simple.
The roots of this problem run deep and in most cases the individual needs outside help — it’s very difficult to quit with willpower alone. When your mind and body become physically dependent, stopping use sends you into withdrawal.
Withdrawal can be multiple things, depending on what substance is being used, the amount of how much has been used, and the length of time used. Withdrawal symptoms can include: nausea, vomiting, fevers, blackouts, anxiety, tremors, convulsions, seizures, depression, restlessness, delirium, and severe agitation. In many cases when somebody is going through withdrawal, they will need medical supervision. At this point chemical dependency programs are going to be needed.
Help for an addict has really evolved in the past twenty years and can come in a variety of ways. Talking to a professional is going to be key in determining what the addict’s next step should be.
Chemical Dependency Programs
There are many different chemical dependency programs. Here is a look at the different types of treatment available today.
When one needs medical supervision while stopping use of a substance (as mentioned above), I am referring to detox facilities. This type of facility can give medication to keep you as comfortable as possible while going through the withdrawal process.
The purpose of the detox facility is to safely get rid of the drugs and/or alcohol from your body. The stay is normally 3-7 days (where you check into the facility for overnight stay) depending on what drug you have become dependent on. It is normally recommended to attend an in-patient facility after completing detox.
In-Patient and Out-Patient Treatment
There are treatment centers for chemical dependency around the world and so many to choose from. The first step is determining whether you need to go through a detox center first. There are people who can go straight into treatment because their body is not physically dependent. Once it is determined if you need detox or not, it is important to determine whether in-patient or out-patient services are needed.
In-patient treatment normally ranges from a 28-day program up to a 6-month program and in some cases longer. When going in-patient, the addict will stay at a facility where they have been admitted for overnight stay for a period of time, depending on the program. There are many in-patient programs available that can serve the addict’s individual needs.
Some individuals struggle with mental health issues and this is where co-occuring treatment facilities would come in. Co-occuring means you have some mental health issues along with substance abuse component. Having co-occuring disorders is very common. Many times substances are used to self-medicate mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and many other mental health issues.
Out-patient treatment programs are also used. This is where you are not admitted for overnight stay and can leave after receiving treatment. In some cases people go straight into out-patient, depending on the progressiveness of their addiction.
Also, after a person leaves in-patient it is followed up with out-patient services. Out-patient can have a variety of different formats depending on your needs but the main areas it focuses on are: education, developing a support system, and counseling.
The various types of treatment offered from out-patient services are: day programs, intensive out-patient (IOP), and continuing care. Day programs are the highest level of care that is offered in an out-patient setting. It can be 5-7 days per week for several hours.
IOP is normally a program that is a few times per week for a few hours. The client has to complete a treatment plan and as they do, treatment hours decrease. IOP also allows you to work or take care of personal responsibilities but still have some accountability with treatment.
Continuing care is normally asked of in many out-patient programs. Continuing care refers to engaging in outside support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Celebrate Recovery, or other 12-step programs.
Importance of Continuing Care in Recovery
Addiction and alcoholism are diseases that isolate you and want to keep you alone. It is important to no longer live alone with your disease. By attending 12-step meetings, you are surrounded with people who have been through similar struggles, and you can make new clean and sober friends.
When you attend a 12-step meeting, each person is in a different part of their recovery. Seeing the person with multiple years of sobriety model recovery is just as important as seeing the newcomer walk through the doors for the first time. These meetings offer accountability and it is proven to strengthen recovery. The hope is to rebuild your life and keep you from relapse, one day at a time. The 12-step model gives you a way to live your life substance free.
The 12-step program is based on the importance of finding a “higher power”. As Christians, we know this to be Jesus Christ. Celebrate Recovery is a Christian 12-step program that I have found to be a great addition to attending Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings. It uses the 12 steps but also includes biblical comparison for each step.
The twelve steps and their biblical comparisons are:
1. We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors. That our lives had become unmanageable.
I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. (Romans 7:18)
2. We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13)
3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. (Romans 12:1)
4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD. (Lamentations 3:40)
5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. (James 5:16a)
6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. (James 4:10)
7. We humbly asked Him to remove all our shortcomings.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
Do to others as you would have them do to you. (Luke 6:31)
9. We made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you; leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:23-24)
10. We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! (1 Corinthians 10:12)
11. We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and power to carry that out.
Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly. (Colossians 3:16a)
12. Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and practice these principles in all our affairs.
Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. (Galatians 6:1)
Christians and Recovery
It says in James 4:8, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”
As Christians we can draw closer to God in the midst of chaos and struggle. He can free us from our addiction. As Christians we are blessed to know a God that we can lean into during this time of great difficulty.
God will not waste this pain you are going through. He will use this to refine you and restore you and hopefully help others who are struggling with addiction, as well. It can be challenging to know how you can grow closer to God during this time but He has given us His Word through the Bible to help.
Reach Out Today
Wherever you land on your recovery journey, seeking individual therapy for chemical dependency is going to be a helpful additional step. In most cases the underlying issues on why you started using substances need to be looked at and worked through.
Seeking therapy is an additional step to help you strengthen your recovery from chemical dependency so that relapse does not occur and your life will improve.
If you are ready to face your addiction, I am here to help. I have been counseling addicts for several years, many of whom also had multiple mental health issues to address.
I have seen clients become successful with treatment when they are open to being honest and ready to face the issues that have brought them to question whether they have a substance abuse issue. God’s grace is here and hope is in your future. Contact me or another counselor at our office today.
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