Rehabilitation from drug abuse is more than getting past the initial withdrawal symptoms during the detox process. The most important part of a quality drug rehab program is the education received to prepare for the struggles after returning to family, work and friends. Education about post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), denial and making healthy lifestyle changes while including continued group or individual counseling helps ensure permanent sobriety.
As the most common cause of relapse, a plan to deal with post-acute withdrawal syndrome is essential to a lasting recovery. PAWS is the persistent physical and emotional symptoms occurring after detoxification from alcohol, opiates, benzodiazepines and other substances. Symptoms are varied and each person has to identify and develop a plan based on their own individual needs. For some, symptoms may include:
• Sleep disorders
• Memory problems
• Increased sensitivity to pain
• Inability to think clearly
• Impaired concentration
• Emotional sensitivity or numbness
• Sensitivity to stress
These and other PAWS symptoms are easily identified by the recovering addicts’ association with the use of drugs or alcohol as a means of obtaining relief from the PAWS symptom.
Denial plays a significant role in addiction. As it applies to psychology and addiction, “Denial is an unconscious defense mechanism characterized by refusal to acknowledge painful realities, thoughts, or feelings.” (1)
Rehabilitation education helps identify ways denial perpetuates addiction and how to identify and defeat it through future self-intervention or knowing when to ask for help. Terence T. Gorski identifies the following twelve denial patters:
1. Avoidance – “I’ll talk about anything but my real problems!”
2. Absolute Denial – “No not me, I don’t have problems!”
3. Minimization – “My problems aren’t that bad!”
4. Rationalizing – “If I can find enough reasons for my problems, I won’t have to deal with them.
5. Blaming – “If I can prove that my problems are not my fault, I won’t have to deal with them!”
6. Comparing – “Showing that others are worse than me proves that I don’t have serious problems!”
7. Compliance – “I’ll pretend to do what you want if you’ll leave me alone!”
8. Manipulating – “I’ll only admit that I have problems if you agree to solve them for me.”
9. Flight into Health – “Feeling better means that I am cured!”
10. Recovery by Fear – “Being scared of my problems will make them go away!”
11. Strategic Hopelessness – “Since nothing works, I don’t have to try!”
12. The Democratic Disease State – “I have the right to destroy myself and no one has the right to stop me!” (2)
A third essential topic to a lasting recovery is how to identify and alter lifestyle choices that have a negative impact on sobriety. The self-analysis needed to identify personal PAWS symptoms and denial patterns also helps identify what lifestyle choices need to be changed.
These changes aren’t always as easy as making a unilateral decision to make new friends, abandon old hangouts or momentarily walking away from a stressful situation. It will often require communicating needs to friends and family and being able to articulate how these people can help. These challenging conversations will take practice and patience.
Sobriety is a dramatic lifestyle change. It involves thinking, acting and reacting differently. It is essential to find a quality drug rehabilitation program that emphasizes education about PAWS, denial and lifestyle choices to give you or your loved one the best chance at a life-long recovery from drug or alcohol abuse. These tools can be imparted in an intensive 30-day program and continuing group or individual counseling helps maintain recovery awareness to ensure application of this knowledge for life.
Our drug and alcohol addiction specialists are available 24/7 to provide you with a free, confidential consultation. We’re widely known for having the most comprehensive addiction education programs in the US. Find out for yourself by calling us now – there’s no obligation and no cost for a consultation, so there’s no reason not to call.
(1) Denial – The Free Dictionary by Farlex – 2000
(2) Denial Checklist – The Addiction Website of Terence T. Gorski – 1999 http://www.tgorski.com/clin_mod/dmc/denial_checklist.htm