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Comprehensive Addiction Treatment: What It Means, Why You Need It

Prior to active use of drugs and alcohol, people will have a range of experiences that inform the reasons why they find comfort in drinking and getting high. Then, during active substance use and addiction, each individual will travel a unique path through life, meeting different people, experiencing different events, and perhaps developing different mental health issues as a result.

Thus, in recovery, it is imperative that each client has access to a range of drug and alcohol abuse treatment services that will allow for a uniquely designed treatment plan. In this way, the treatment experience is characterized by therapies chosen to provide directed assistance in managing unique challenges. Thus, each client is better prepared to avoid relapse in recovery.

This process of identifying specific challenges to the client and providing an individualized treatment plan is termed comprehensive addiction treatment, and it is the key to creating a strong start in recovery.

The First Steps to Comprehensive Treatment

A thorough evaluation and assessment should be the first step in any comprehensive addiction treatment program. This process can serve to identify all the issues that may be contributing to the client’s use of drugs and alcohol, including:

  • Childhood trauma
  • Co-occurring mental health disorders (e.g., anxiety, depression, eating disorders, etc.)
  • Underlying medical disorders (e.g., chronic pain, chronic illness, etc.)
  • Learning and/or behavioral disorders
  • Life circumstances (e.g., legal problems, family difficulties, etc.)

The more that is known about all the factors contributing to a client’s life experience, the more capable the therapeutic team will be in identifying treatments and therapies that will provide the most directed assistance across all issues or to address individual issues intensively.

Often, this process takes place immediately after stabilization in addiction treatment. It may include a physical exam and certain tests for disorders or diseases that may be indicated by the client’s reported experience. A meeting with a therapist can help to indicate the need for certain other tests, questionnaires, or evaluations to identify mental health, learning, and behavioral issues. In some cases, it may be helpful for family members to share their experience of the client’s past experiences to shed light on otherwise unrevealed difficulties. Additionally, information about past attempts at treatment, and whether or not they were beneficial to the individual, can be used to determine which future therapies will be most effective.

Options for Comprehensive Care

The more diversity there is in the treatment regimen and therapies offered to clients, the more likely it is that they will be able to enjoy an exceptional and comprehensive treatment experience. The combination of treatments used in each client’s treatment plan will vary based on individual needs and the offerings provided by the rehab program. In general, however, clients should look for a wide variety of treatments that include:

Personal case management: Meeting regularly with a therapist individually can provide a “home base” for the treatment experience. Here, the client can discuss goals for recovery, ensure that other treatments and therapies are working together to help achieve those goals, and make changes as goals are accomplished.

Group therapy sessions: There are a number of benefits to meeting regularly with others who are also learning how to live without drugs and alcohol under the guidance of a substance abuse treatment professional. Depending on the format of the therapy session, participants may learn from the information provided by the counselor as well as from the experiences of others in the group. Additionally, group therapy sessions are often the first place that people with a long history of addiction first recognize that they provide value and support to others by sharing their experiences.

Alternative therapies: Psychodrama, animal-assisted therapies, art and dance therapies, sports and adventure therapies – there is almost an endless array of therapy options that offer the option of exploring experience and perspective without depending on verbalization. This can be freeing to the individual who finds it difficult to open up about thoughts and feelings directly in a therapy session and can amplify the experience of every client in recovery. The specific alternative therapies chosen should be based on the areas that require attention in the person’s experience as well as the person’s interests and inclinations.

Holistic therapies: Like alternative therapies, there are a number of treatments that fall into the category of holistic healing. Yoga and meditation, acupuncture, massage, and bodywork are among the most common, but drumming circles, hypnotherapy, aromatherapy, and others have been shown to hold value for some in recovery. It is simply a matter of opening oneself up to the exploration of different holistic opportunities and fully exploring those that prove helpful.

What types of therapy and treatments are most appealing to you? Which ones do you believe will bring you the most value in treatment?

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