Rehabilitation for people suffering from addiction to drugs or alcohol includes two primary components. The first stage is detoxification, during which the person is supported while they begin abstinence and work through withdrawal symptoms. After detoxification, the real work of recovery begins. The benefits of long-term addiction treatment focus on helping people to develop the skills they will need to prevent relapse and live a full life, free of drugs and alcohol.
Substance Abuse Physically Alters the Brain
When people suffer from addiction, the illness dominates their lives in many ways. Much of their focus is on acquiring drugs or alcohol or on planning their next usage. They often start to build their lives around the addiction.
Ongoing substance abuse leads to many changes in the way people think and behave. Repeated substance abuse causes physical changes in the brain, and the brain essentially rewires itself to compensate for the repeated exposure to drugs or alcohol.1
When drug or alcohol use ceases, the brain does not immediately return to normal. It can take many months—sometimes years—for the brain to reverse the changes. This poses a challenge for people who suffer from addiction. Opting for long-term treatment helps people to cope with cravings as the brain heals itself and reduces the risk of relapse.
Benefits of Long-Term Addiction Treatment
Research shows that most people who participate in long-term addiction treatment will stop using drugs or alcohol. Their psychological, social and occupational functionality improves.2 However, learning new, more productive behaviors takes time, and the longer a person participates in treatment, the more likely they are to experience long-term success.
1. Increased Success in Recovery
Drug and alcohol abuse leads to maladaptive behaviors that become the norm. Prolonged substance abuse affects decision-making processes and judgment. It takes time for people to reverse these effects and to learn positive behaviors. The benefits of long-term addiction treatment are more significant than short-term therapy and result in higher success rates for ongoing sobriety.3
2. Improved Self-Confidence
Those who suffer from addiction often experience a decrease in self-esteem as they feel unable to regain control of their life. It is not uncommon for people who are dependent on substances to try, repeatedly and unsuccessfully, to quit without professional help. This repeated cycle of brief abstinence and relapse can increase feelings of frustration and helplessness. Long-term addiction treatment supports a person’s efforts to develop sobriety skills, and experiencing success empowers individuals to stay focused on their recovery and avoid relapse.
The longer people suffering from addiction maintain abstinence, the more positive they feel about their ability to withstand cravings and triggers. They will emerge from treatment knowing that they can remain sober, and that they can function productively without drugs or alcohol. This success increases confidence and hope for the future.
3. Building a Rewarding Life
One of the benefits of long-term addiction treatment is that people with substance abuse issues can engage in healthy, productive activities that reinforce recovery and bring joy and a feeling of accomplishment. This plays a significant role in ongoing recovery, as people learn that sobriety doesn’t have to be boring and that fulfillment in life is a critical aspect of relapse prevention.