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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Is rehab the best solution for drug addiction?

    Related Topic
    How effective is rehab? What about relapse afterward?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 4


    Monica Schweickle

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    Monica is a caring clinical psychologist with an interest in recovery from addictions, low self-esteem, social phobia, generalised anxiety disorder, perfectionism, post-traumatic stress disorder, child … View Profile

    There are many different types of rehabilitation programs for drug and alcohol addiction; varying in their length, focus and philosophy. It would depend on the individual’s needs and their personal goals around what they want to change.
    Rehab can be a very effective starting point to recovery, especially if the person is experiencing signs of tolerance to the drug (needing to use more and more to get the same effect) and withdrawal symptoms when they are not using the drug. These are signs of drug dependency, which make it very difficult for a person to “just stop using” without more intensive support offered in rehab. It also depends on the nature of the drugs they are using; for instance withdrawal from some classes of drugs can cause seizures when one ceases using them suddenly. The major advantage of a rehab environment with the support of mental health and nursing professionals to assist the withdrawal process and help the person readjust to life without substances.
    If the person also has a mental health issue, and many people struggling with the impact of drugs on their life do- rehab is a supportive environment, which the person can begin to address the issues and traumas which underlie their using and make them vulnerable to using drugs. Most rehabs offer a combination of group and individual therapy aimed at skills for recovery.
    Change is a process and not a one off event, and there are many ups and downs in the road to recovery. So people need to start planning how they will avoid relapse whilst they're in rehab, and make sure they're linked in with appropriate supports (self-help groups, psychiatrist, psychologist). The first 90 days after leaving a rehab facility are the greatest risk for relapse.
    Recovery is a very individual process and everyone's needs are different, it would be wise to discuss with a mental health professional what the best solution for you would be given all these factors.
    Good luck! 

  • Dr Joanne Dennison

    Counselling Psychologist, Counsellor, Psychologist, Psychotherapist

    Dennison Psychology is a private psychology practice, with a location in South Yarra (Melbourne). Appointments are available on weekdays (appointments available from early mornings through … View Profile

    There are various treatment options for drug addictions. Oftentimes, people find going “cold turkey”, engaging in a substitution program (e.g. methadone, suboxone, buprenorphine) or through a detox program does not allow them to work on issues that may be related to their drug use, or develop coping strategies for situations that they may be at risk of relapsing in. Engaging in therapy can assist with these.

    Research has found that, when engaged in as intended, AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and NA (Narcotica Anonymous) are useful in reducing the chance of relapsing. Both NA and AA meetings are not delivered by a professional, but are delivered by the participants. Other talking treatments are most often delivered by trained healthcare professionals (individual and group therapy). The nature of these talking treatments vary, according to the theoretical orientation/training of the therapist. Research has found many treatment approaches to be effective in assisting clients who have a history of substance abuse. Sometimes people choose to engage in counselling with a healthcare professional, in addition to attending either NA or AA meetings, and report finding the combination highly effective.

    Giving up a drug that you have become addicted to is not easy; it requires commitment and the understanding that being successful in abstaining in the long-term most often requires significant personal changes. However, the benefits you will experience may make it worth it.

  • 2


    David is a qualified and experienced family therapist, counselling supervisor. He uses acceptance and commitment therapist(ACT) Gottman Method and other evidence based modalities. David has … View Profile

    This is  a great question! and one that I hear almost weekly at our addiction support group (Smart Recovery) The question may vary somewhat but essentially sounds like 'how do I stop using' The answers also vary and can often result in sometimes tense dialogue with laughter and at times end with tears and frustration. I would like to respond briefly to the question not from a clinical perspective but rather from a collection of voices that come from  people battling this complex problem. The dialogue usually includes 3 domains that I will call,  Self, Social and Support and almost always include these few points. 

    -SELF I must do this for me! and Includes clarifying and connecting with what is truly important in life in other words in my deepest desire what do I really want my life to stand for? what sort of person do I want to be? how do I want to treat myself and others? and eventually arriving at a place where I can ask myself will using my substance of choice move me closer or further from my life's values?

    -SOCIAL Includes making the tough choice to remove harmful people from my life. This usually involves cutting off 'using friends', dealers and sometimes using partners and family. This choice is often really tough because it can cause other problems like  loneliness and isolation.

    - SUPPORT which includes finding support services , support people which can include counselling, rehabs, medications,  AA  or Smart Recovery and also should include support people with really good energy.

    Rehab can be a pathway to recovery however in my opinion "one size does not seem to fit all"  individuals must be responsible for their own behavior, and are best to design their individual recovery program. 

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