Self-Help Resources Are Not Enough for Treating Addiction

There are hundreds of books on the subject of drug addiction treatment and recovery, as well as a bevy of motivational resources online to help those in treatment for drug and alcohol addiction to stay focused and on track.

In addition, 12-Step meetings and other support groups available to the public offer support and assistance. But are these enough to overcome addiction?

Some people have found success in recovery after taking advantage of self-help resources and managed to stay clean and sober; however, the ones who do find success in these programs usually:

  • Do not have an addiction but rather struggle with an acute substance abuse issue
  • Have only been abusing drugs and alcohol for a relatively short period of time
  • Did not begin abusing drugs or alcohol until later in life and may not have used any substances until later in life
  • Do not have any co-occurring mental health issues
  • Start recovery in a professional drug rehab program and follow up with self-help options in recovery

Unfortunately, for most people, self-help options are not enough to learn how to manage the issues related to a drug addiction disorder. Most who attempt to avoid professional treatment when it is needed find that relapse and continued problems related to the addictive use of drugs and alcohol are the inevitable results.

In almost every case, outpatient addiction treatment services or comprehensive inpatient rehabilitation is recommended when someone is struggling with drugs and alcohol.

If You Could, You Would

For most people, by the time they enter a drug rehab program, they have already tried many times to manage their use of drugs and alcohol. When that failed, many attempt to completely quit on their own. It is often these attempts that make it clear to the individual that there is a problem that requires professional treatment.

Addiction is not a willpower issue that can be managed simply by deciding to stop drinking or getting high. Addiction is a medical disorder, and because it is a disease that creates changes in the brain that in turn impact physical as well as mental health and behaviors, it is a disorder that requires intensive medical and therapeutic intervention.

In short, if it were possible to quit on one’s own, it would have been accomplished when problems first became evident. No one chooses to be – or remain – an addict.

Benefits of Professional Treatment

  • Personalized treatment: One of the major problems with self-help options for substance abuse treatment is that none of these programs or options can be personalized to meet individual needs. Without an in-person professional there to help the individual address personal past experiences, goals for the future, current needs, and any other issues and symptoms that may arise, there is always the risk – and likelihood – that an important need will go unmet.
  • Educated and experienced experts: The substance abuse treatment professionals who provide treatment for individuals attempting to overcome addiction have the education and experience to provide expert and personalized assistance and care. They are always learning and updating their education to include new research and new methods in treatment, and they can apply those to the person seeking treatment.
  • Accountability: Though some self-help options encourage community support, a person may or may not feel accountable for choices made during treatment. There is no way to ensure that the person is following through as needed on the various aspects of recovery that are necessary to make a strong start in sobriety and continue without relapse. Without the right kind of support and accountability measures in place, many who struggle with addiction, due to the nature of the disease, will fall off in the first few weeks or months.
  • Psychological treatment: Many people living with addiction also live with co-occurring mental health disorders. Anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder – these are all very commonly part of a person’s experience with drugs and alcohol. These, too, usually cannot be treated effectively with a self-help program. Because the symptoms caused by these disorders can trigger drug and alcohol use, attempting to quit abusing substances without getting medical care and treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders will be largely ineffective.

Benefits of Self-Help Options

After taking part in a comprehensive drug rehabilitation program on either an outpatient or inpatient basis, and securing the personalized treatment necessary to create a strong foothold in sobriety, self-help options can be hugely beneficial – when combined with ongoing aftercare services as needed to address mental health symptoms and trauma.

Benefits include:

  • A support system in recovery made up of peers who are understanding and willing to be of service
  • An opportunity to be of service and supportive to others
  • An opportunity to learn more about oneself
  • A chance to explore options and goals in recovery, find greater peace and balance, and avoid relapse for the long-term

Asking for help

Asking for help overcoming drug and alcohol addiction is not easy. It requires acknowledging that things have gotten out of control. It also requires acknowledging that there is no one to blame for the problem and that help is a deserved option. If you are living with addiction, you deserve to connect with treatment. You deserve to live a life that is not defined by drugs and alcohol. You can find that help when you connect with treatment services that will help you work through the details of creating a new life for yourself in sobriety.

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