When a person decides to get professional help with an addiction, he may be unsure of what to expect during rehabilitation and recovery. Most people know that addiction treatment can last for extended periods of time, but what they may not realize is how difficult it can be at times to continue treatment. In these situations, and even later on when a person has entered the long-term recovery phase of managing his addiction, it is necessary for the person to develop and exhibit persistence. This will greatly increase his likelihood of staying sober long-term.
Addiction as a Chronic Disease
Until recent years, addiction was considered by many people, healthcare professionals included, to be a sign of personal weakness and lack of will-power. Modern research on the nature of addiction has revealed, however, that addiction is more complex than was previously realized. As the National Institute on Drug Abuse explains, the majority of the scientific and medical community now views addiction as “a chronic, often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences to the addicted individual and to those around him or her.” Additionally, many medical professionals believe that initial drug use is a choice, though taking drugs over a period of time causes changes in the brain that negatively affect a person’s ability to control himself, and that make it more difficult for the person to resist strong desires to continue using the drug.
Addiction and Relapse
Since addiction is a chronic disease, many people recovering from it will experience relapse. The NIDA reports that the relapse rates in people recovering from addiction were comparable to those recovering from other chronic illnesses, such as asthma, type I diabetes and hypertension. This report specifically states that approximately 60 percent of people who go through addiction recovery experience at least one relapse. It also explains the following other ways that addiction is similar to other types of chronic diseases:
- It consists of both physical and psychological aspects, and both must be effectively treated in rehabilitation
- Recovery from it is a long-term process that can require multiple series of treatment
- Relapse is possible both during and after treatment, and is a sign that treatment needs to be either modified or reestablished.
Many rehabilitation centers have begun adapting their treatment plans to acknowledge this complex nature of addiction. This means that instead of providing one-time treatment for addiction, many programs offer extended support for recovering addicts, explaining that relapse can be a part of the recovery process and encouraging people who experience relapse to continue on in recovery instead of giving up.
Persevering Through the Recovery Process
The recovery process can be long and difficult, and experiencing one or more relapses can make the process even more challenging. The key to successful recovery, though, is persistence. Stanley J. Gross lists several key ways to successfully persevere through recovery:
- Get help: since sobriety can be difficult to sustain alone, it’s helpful to seek out both professional help and social support throughout the entire recovery process. These forms of help can identify and address problems that the person may be experiencing, and can provide a safe and nonjudgmental environment where the person can share his struggles and victories.
- Acknowledge your role in the problem: admitting that the person is both responsible for the consequences of his addiction and unable to control the addiction can be a healthy way to address the addiction head-on and develop a specific recovery strategy.
- Create a specific and disciplined self-care plan: the person should identify healthy ways to avoid the addiction in the future and figure out how to live a productive and fulfilling life.
How to Get More Information About Persistence and the Recovery Process
Continuing through the recovery process after a relapse or similar setback can be difficult. However, it is essential for any person wanting to live an addiction-free life to persevere through the tough times of recovery. This is the only way that a person can truly achieve long-term recovery.
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