Jul 4, 2022 | By Tim Stoddart
Do I need rehab? Can I stay sober on my own?Miscellaneous
In the recovery community we often tell newcomers who are on the fence about whether they need intense and focused help to achieve sobriety, “Only when the pain of staying the same is greater than the fear of change, do we make a change.” Once all our best coping mechanisms quit working, our support systems have dwindled away, and the few relationships we have maintained have lost confidence in us, do we finally look deeply into the mirror and decide if we are ready to tell ourselves the truth. The frequent flaw in our thinking once we can admit such difficult news to ourselves is that we may still try to believe we can achieve and maintain sobriety alone.
Is Isolation In Recovery A Myth?:
The tendency to isolate in our addiction often extends to seeking out ways that we can get better while still hanging on to our isolation. Our shame and our pride take over in a tug of war for the mind and soul as we try every way in the world for this reality to become manageable without disclosure or major disruption to our privacy. Even the thought of sharing our secret with another human being can be daunting. The idea of going away for concentrated help feels extreme and like a tremendous overreaction as we try to convince ourselves that maybe something as simple as a trip to the doctor could help us bring about our desired result. Protecting our privacy and working things out quietly alone has great appeal to us. What many people are surprised by is that our primary care physicians are not always prepared to direct us in our next right steps when it comes to our sobriety and recovery.
Why Not Start with a Doctor Visit?
According to Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO about 80% of those surveyed who fit the profile for AUD (alcohol use disorder) enlisted the services of a medical professional at some point within the span of a year. Of those who sought medical attention for potential alcohol use disorder only about 70% of those seeking medical assistance were interviewed about their frequency or amount of alcohol consumption. Only one in ten were urged to curb their drinking by a medical professional and only about 6% were given any type of actual treatment.
While the medical community is beginning to catch up with the realities that come with various substance use disorders and the whole underlying causality of addiction, many physicians will readily admit that when it comes to treating addiction they often feel at a loss. Doctors are happy to have therapists, coaches, recovery groups and more to hand patients off to when the bud of addiction begins to blossom in a patient. The opportunity to refer a patient to the care of a treatment center is a welcome occasion for many in the medical community who deal with the despairing patients and their families.
Why Consider Inpatient Care?
So, what is the difference in the care plan that one might receive at an inpatient facility as opposed to simply seeing a doctor and trusting that medicine alone will take care of an impulsive and disordered relationship with a substance? First, the assessment at a treatment center will likely start with a medically supervised detox. Realizing that those who try to get sober alone often run a great physical risk trying to detox themselves, a treatment center offers an opportunity for medication and observation lest any of the withdrawal symptoms become life-threatening or potentially serious. Many people die at home or in a hotel room simply because they were alone in the attempt to detox themselves.
Another benefit of inpatient care would be the realization that we are not alone in our disease. The opportunity to engage others in the process diminishes the shame and allows us to begin to trust that we can relate to others when we are willing to be vulnerable and teachable. The pain of isolation is something that doesn’t have to continue and entering a recovery community like a rehab center is often a great place to learn to focus on hearing the wisdom of others as well as how to care for ourselves.
What Are the Benefits of Inpatient Treatment?:
Connection – Being a part of a treatment community teaches us that we can enjoy the benefits of relationship with others and that being in relationship with others minimizes our triggers for using or acting out.
Support – Trusting that we can allow others to speak into our lives without us resorting to defensiveness and self-protecting behaviors teaches us that there are those that have done this before and experience, strength, and hope can only be gleaned in the company of others, not in isolation.
Access to Therapy – Taking advantage of the opportunity to explore the root causes of our dependency is something many of us do not avail ourselves to on our own. Treatment can open the door to an ongoing relationship with therapy.
Pressing Pause – Giving ourselves a break from our daily lives and pressures allow us to reset with the help of relationships and community.
Learning to Be Vulnerable – Trusting the open nature of the groups and classes in treatment helps us become more comfortable in communicating our truth and experiences to others in healthy, acceptable ways.
Asking for What We Need – Immersed in a culture of acceptance we become comfortable asking for what we need and can relax in our understanding that we don’t have to have all the answers.
After we leave rehab many of us will engage groups as a part of our continued care plan. 12-Step groups are a wonderful place for those who share similar struggles to offer support and connection. They are also a place where we can learn to serve others as well. Recovery happens in relationship, not in isolation.