It would be nice if there were a single best way to overcome addiction. That would greatly simplify things for anyone struggling with a substance use disorder or anyone with a loved one struggling with a substance use disorder. Instead of researching the endless treatment options and doing their best to pick one that works, everyone could use the one perfect method. Unfortunately, addiction recovery doesn’t work that way. Methods are always evolving and everyone is different. Many people who have managed to stay in recovery for a long time believe what worked for them will work for everyone — but the reality is that every person seeking help for addiction needs something different from recovery, and it’s crucial to put together a plan based on those needs. Here are some important factors to consider.
Everyone’s circumstances are different
First, everyone has different life circumstances. It might be ideal if everyone with a substance use disorder could spend six months in a quality treatment program, then six months in a sober living home before transitioning to independent living. However, very few people have the time or resources for that level of commitment. Many people have family responsibilities that limit their treatment options. They may only be able to afford a limited amount of time off of work. Although addiction is an emergency, everyone has to deal with it with the resources they have.
What’s more, everyone has different strengths and weaknesses in recovery. One person may have a supportive family and another may not. One person may have a relatively short substance use history and another may have been through treatment multiple times. All of these people don’t need the same resources in recovery, so any treatment plan should take individual circumstances into account.
Most people have a co-occurring mental health issue
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than half of adults and more than 60 percent of adolescents with substance use disorders have a co-occuring mental health issue. Common co-occurring issues include major depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, personality disorders, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, psychotic disorders, and autism spectrum disorders.
Each of these can complicate recovery in different ways. For example, someone with bipolar disorder who is having a manic episode might feel like he no longer needs treatment and want to leave early. People with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, report more intense cravings and tend to relapse more quickly after treatment. Every mental health issue poses its own challenges and complicates treatment in different ways. Many of these conditions, such as bipolar disorder, ADHD, and psychotic disorders will likely require a lifetime of management to minimize the risk of substance use relapse. It’s crucial to find a treatment program that has the resources to treat co-occurring mental health issues.
Co-occurring medical issues are common
Heavy substance use can take a toll on your health relatively quickly. Heavy drinking, the most common addiction, increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, liver disease, malnutrition, and various cancers, including mouth, stomach, liver, colon, and breast cancer. IV drug use can increase your risk of infections such as hepatitis and HIV. Stimulants can increase your risk of stroke and heart failure. The longer you continue substance use, the greater these risks become. These may be a concern at any point during treatment, but they are often most worrisome during detox, which can put a considerable strain on your body. Medical detox can monitor these conditions and minimize risk. Pregnant women need to consult with their doctors about the best way to begin treatment with minimal risk to the fetus.
Age is an important factor in recovery
Age can have a huge influence on your needs in recovery. Adolescents have very different needs from young adults, and both of them have different needs from middle aged or older adults. For example, the biggest challenges for adolescents in recovery may be peer pressure, mental health issues such as anxiety or depression, or cognitive immaturity. Older adults, on the other hand, may be dealing with a decades-long addiction, medical complications, or the death of a spouse. People of any age group typically prefer to discuss their problems with people closer to their own age who are more likely to understand. This is why some treatment programs divide clients by age. It’s important for parents to note that there are relatively few treatment programs specifically for adolescents, and many of those that do exist don’t account for the ways adolescents’ treatment needs differ from those of adults — so it’s important to be aware of those differences and ask about them specifically.
Men and women may have different needs
Another major divide is among men and women. While, broadly speaking, men and women have many of the same needs in recovery, they often have different challenges meeting those needs. For example, social connection is crucial for both, but men are less likely to actively build a sober network, while women are more likely to maintain ties with people who don’t support their recovery. Therefore, it’s important for men to be in a position to build those connections (which, for many men, means participating in all-male treatment). Women, on the other hand, are more sensitive to the stigma of substance use and although they are more likely to seek help for a mental health issue, they are less likely to seek help for addiction. Women are also more vulnerable to common co-occurring mental health issues like major depression and anxiety disorders. All of these factors can make a difference in the success of recovery.
If you have a loved one who is struggling with addiction, Hired Power and our team of dynamic, experienced recovery professionals are here to guide you every step of the way. We offer many services, including helping you choose the best treatment program and transitional services, including interventions, sober monitoring, and personal recovery assistants. Call us today for information on our recovery services: 800.910.9299.