Breaking the Addiction Lifestyle in Long-Term Inpatient Drug Rehab
After so many weeks or months of drug abuse, a person falls into certain patterns of behavior, thinking and feeling. While the effects of drugs act as the catalyst for these patterns, the patterns themselves affect a person’s psychological make-up. These patterns also have a reinforcing effect that makes them that much harder to break.
People with extensive drug abuse histories have, for the most part, become entrenched in the addiction lifestyle, which accounts for why so many go through multiple rounds of treatment before seeing any real results. Long-term inpatient drug rehab offers addicts the opportunity to make a complete break from the addiction lifestyle. In the process, addicts gain an understanding of what it takes to live a drug-free lifestyle on an ongoing basis.
Addiction’s Effects in the Brain
Addictive substances trigger the release of dopamine, a key neurotransmitter chemical in the brain. Dopamine chemical pathways interact with certain key mechanisms throughout the brain, including:
- Brain reward circuits
- Learning and memory
- Transcription factors
According to Harvard Health Publications, dopamine secretions regulate the brain’s reward system, an area that assigns degrees of importance to the various experiences that make up a person’s day. In effect, experiences that trigger dopamine secretions take on top priority in a person’s daily life. As the brain comes to associate drugs with the “high” effects that result, the link between drug use and positive reward creates a lasting or persistent memory.
Each time the brain creates a memory, it produces substances known as transcription factors. With repeated drug use, this concentration of transcription factors increases.
These effects combined gradually alter how the brain works and changes its overall structure. These effects also account for why it’s so difficult to stop using drugs.
An Obsession-Driven Lifestyle
Addiction’s place as top priority in the addict’s life extends past strong memory formations in the brain. With continued drug use, these memories create patterns of thinking that center around using drugs and experiencing their effects. Not surprisingly, emotion-based patterns also start to form along with developing thinking patterns.
After a certain point, these effects start to alter a person’s base psychological make-up to the point where psychological dysfunction develops, according to the Food & Drug Administration. In the absence of the drug, users experience feelings of anxiety and distress apart from the physical withdrawal symptoms that come with periods of abstinence.
During the course of drug use, episodes of anticipation and anxiety coupled with repeated “high” experiences form the basis for obsession to take root. This obsession eventually starts to direct a person’s behaviors, becoming “the” motivating force in his or her life.
Loss of Control
The physical effects of addiction only add to the whirlwind of psychological changes a person experiences during the course of drug use. The brain chemical secretions brought on by drug use cause ongoing wear and tear on the cells that produce these chemicals.
With each drug dose, brain cells work much harder than normal, producing excess amounts of neurotransmitter chemicals. As a result, cells develop structural damage, which makes them less responsive to the drug’s effects. In turn, users must ingest increasingly larger doses to experience the anticipated effects of the drug.
After months of drug use, cells can no longer produce needed neurotransmitter chemicals in the absence of the drug causing widespread brain chemical imbalances to form. Ultimately, tolerance level increases will continue for as long as a person keeps using, causing ongoing damage to brain cells in the process. At this point, addicts have lost the ability to control their intake amounts, let alone stop using altogether.
Inpatient Drug Rehab
Who Can Most Benefit from Long-Term Inpatient Rehab?
The effects of chronic drug use inevitably show up in a person’s day-to-day life. In general, the extent to which addiction has ruined a person’s life reflects the severity of the addiction.
People who most benefit from long-term inpatient rehab have hit rock bottom multiple times and gone through multiple rounds of 15- to 30-day drug treatment programming to no avail. At this point, addiction’s effects in a person’s life may take the form of:
- Job loss
- Family discord
- Money problems
- Problems with the law
- Health problems
- Mental health problems
Long-term inpatient drug rehab offers addicts a clean break from the addiction lifestyle. These programs typically run anywhere from three to six months in duration, which provides much needed time for the body and mind to recover from the effects of drug abuse.
Breaking the Body’s Physical Dependence
Long-term inpatient drug rehab programs provide an extensive range of treatment services, many of which work to break the body’s physical dependence on drugs as well as treat any medical conditions resulting from chronic drug use. As long-term drug use tends to break down the body’s major systems, addicts often enter treatment with chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes and hypertension.
The presence of chronic medical conditions coupled with the degree of withdrawal addicts experience in detox warrants the level of medical care afforded by long-term inpatient drug rehab programs. Services offered include:
- Screening and evaluation
- Treatment planning
- Detox treatment
- Medication treatments
- Round-the-clock monitoring and supervision
- Healthy meal plans
- Daily exercise regimens
Screening and evaluation services provide the information needed to develop an individualized treatment plan for each patient. These initial steps in the treatment process work to ensure a person receives the type of treatment that best meets his or her needs.
Breaking the Addiction Mindset
Much of the time spent in long-term inpatient drug rehab focuses on replacing the mindset left behind by addiction with a lifestyle that makes ongoing abstinence possible. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, these programs use behavioral-based treatment interventions to help addicts identify destructive thinking and behavior patterns and develop healthy coping strategies for building a drug-free lifestyle.
Treatment interventions commonly used include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Contingency management therapy
- Rewards-based reinforcement therapies
- Group therapy
- Support group work
- Drug education and counseling
These interventions address different aspects of the addiction lifestyle in terms of the thinking, emotions and behaviors that drive continued drug use. Behavioral-based therapies also enable a person to identify the underlying issues that led him or her to turn to drugs as a means for coping with life stressors.
A Day-by-Day Process
The length of time spent in a long-term inpatient drug rehab program offers the time and space for recovering addicts to develop the types of habits and behaviors that support a drug-free lifestyle. During the course of their stay, residents build a support network made up of like-minded peers, which is an essential component of the recovery process. After completing the program, these day-to-day experiences provide a person with a solid foundation in the recovery process.