Treatment for alcohol and drug abuse is learning about chemical dependency, how it has affected the alcohol or substance user, and his/her family and friends and how to avoid returning to using alcohol or drugs. Treatment is going through the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual changes that occur when the body is detoxing and the mind is clearing up from alcohol or drugs. Often the withdrawal is physical as with alcohol, heroin, and many prescription drugs.
With cocaine and crack, there may be little physical withdrawal. Often the patient will become upset or angry during the treatment process and will not understand or believe that their being upset is really a craving to use or drink that his disease has disguised as anger, depression, or other emotions. The addict may also have dreams about their drug of choice.
The First Step Services has three levels of treatment: Individual, Outpatient, and Intensive Outpatient. Sometimes an inpatient treatment is necessary before entering the First Step Services outpatient program. Inpatient begins with Acute Medical Detox (detox) a period of 1 to 4 days of getting the worst of the drugs out of the patient’s body. With certain drugs, small amounts may linger in the system much longer than the detox period, but the patient is usually ready to function after a few days. Surprising to many people, detoxing from alcohol is the most dangerous.
Intensive Outpatient Treatment Program (IOP) consists of a minimum of 9 hours of treatment per week. Clients generally start off attending three 3-hour groups per week in the evening or Saturday morning (for one group). The Intensive Outpatient Treatment program generally lasts for 90-days and then an aftercare program is recommended consisting of 1 or 2 groups per week. Drug screens are required at all treatment levels.
When a person comes to First Step Services for help, a counselor will evaluate the person to determine the level of treatment recommended for that person. Once the recommendation is made, the person may be admitted immediately or may be placed on a waiting list to come in when space is available in the program. Treatment begins when the patient reports to begin the program.
Outpatient treatment consist of groups and classes generally in the evening. Counselors talk with patients individually on a regular basis but most of the work is done in groups. Patients gain an amazing amount of insight from their peers.
The changes people go through in just a few sessions of outpatient treatment can be miraculous. When patients come in they are often physically ill. Their families have been put through a long nightmare. Patients and their families are mentally and emotionally injured by addiction. Often they are in trouble with their employers or the police. The drugs and alcohol have taken everything from them.
After treatment, patients often become much healthier physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. Most have begun to practice a spiritual life that they never knew existed for them. They have places to live and Vocational Rehabilitation counselors help them get jobs so they may learn to be responsible for their own lives. They learn that they have skills to live and work in the world skills they either did not know they had or that they had forgotten how to use.
In addition, recovering people usually do not commit crimes or need frequent emergency medical services that cost the taxpayers millions of dollars. Recovering addicts and alcoholics pay taxes and live responsible lives. Treatment not only works for the substance abusers and their families, it saves many times as much money as it costs. It also gives people new direction and the human value is beyond measure!