Why Therapy is Important After Inpatient Addiction Treatment
After attending residential addiction treatment (otherwise known as “rehab”), it is extremely common for the facility to recommend continuing care for clients during and after the transition. But why is this so important? It is well documented that ongoing support and accountability result in the best prognosis for recovery from addiction. This article will describe the various reasons for why it is so important to continue in therapy.
Extending the Length of Time in Treatment
Unfortunately, most people simply do not have the resources or the time away from life’s obligations (family, work, etc.) to get an adequate amount of time in residential treatment. Research shows that longer-term treatment improves outcomes, so continuing your care in an outpatient counseling setting is likely to yield positive results. Unfortunately, the average stay in residential treatment is 28 days, less than one full month.
There are a handful of really great treatment centers that don’t just treat the presenting problem; rather, they take a comprehensive approach by including the family in the clinical work, addressing process addictions (e.g., gambling disorders, sexual compulsivity, and eating disorders), providing psychiatric care, treating trauma, and doing inner child work. Nevertheless, even at the best facilities there is simply not enough time.
In fact, much of the time is spent just coming out of the fog of addiction. Most people enter treatment on the heels of a major crisis that was potentially life-threatening, so the treatment professionals are forced into triaging what is most crucial for the client to focus on at the time. In most cases, the initial treatment focus HAS to be on harm reduction, medical stabilization, and ceasing addictive behaviors. Therefore, many of the core issues won’t get adequate attention.
Many people with substance use disorders (SUD) who enter into rehab put down their primary substance of choice only to begin other compulsive behaviors such as binge eating, restricting food, getting involved in toxic relationships, spending and shopping, gambling, or acting out sexually. That’s because the root of why they started using still hasn’t been addressed and they are therefore looking for “less destructive” ways to feel better.
The problem with relying on these external sources to regulate one’s emotions, particularly for someone with addictive tendencies, is that it quickly becomes another addiction that needs to be treated. Eventually this could lead to relapse of the primary problem. More importantly, the client (and their loved ones) is often unable to find true healing and peace until they stop engaging in these behaviors.
Learning to Handle “Life on Life’s Terms”
There are things that treatment just can’t prepare you for. Treatment is a pretty insulated bubble with lots of therapeutic support and a predictable schedule and very little responsibility. Many people report that maintaining abstinence while in treatment is fairly easy, but returning home is a whole new struggle.
With the common stressors of life suddenly hitting you in the face once again, it’s tempting to fall back into old, self-destructive coping skills. Let’s be honest – life is hard! Balancing work and kids and marriages and families and budgeting is HARD. It’s even harder when there is less accountability and your substance or behavior of choice is a visit to the gas station or a phone call away.
Addiction has the power to destroy a person’s closest relationships. Often, after treatment there is a lot of wreckage left to be cleaned up. Addiction often is accompanied by dishonesty, hiding, deflecting, blaming, stealing, and abusive conduct. Accountability through the 12-step community and a therapist who specializes in addiction can help you navigate getting back on track with your loved ones.
It can be incredibly difficult and humbling to realize that you have created trauma for the very people you love the most and that trust has to be rebuilt over time through truth and consistency.
Conversely, there may be relationships that are dangerous to your recovery efforts that need to be heavily boundaried or even severed entirely in order to remain sober. Therapy can help to navigate these complex and challenging situations.
Accountability and Relapse Prevention
It is absolutely vital to choose a therapist who is well versed in addiction treatment. Such a therapist can be a wealth of knowledge in pointing you to the best psychiatric services in the community, various 12-step programs, and other tools to support your recovery. More importantly, this therapist should be highly educated on process addictions and relapse indicators so that they can hold up a mirror and show you your blind spots when you are getting off track.
For years, your brain has operated from a place of shame, causing you to justify addictive behaviors, place blame on others, or even outright lie. Untreated or unnoticed, these behaviors can, and often do, lead to a relapse.
To Address Underlying Trauma
Once a person has been able to break the addiction to substances, there is a whole world of work left to do in exploring why you were medicating in the first place. It’s really important to seek out help with someone who will help you to explore themes through your life, early formative experiences in your family of origin, negative beliefs and how they were formed, and underlying traumatic events. Digging deep and giving yourself an opportunity to heal on a deep level is THE way to maintain sobriety.
Your family will need support and you will need their support as well. Addiction is a family disease and every member of the family has been impacted and needs a chance to heal. The families that go to therapy together to learn how to improve communication, restore trust, and support recovery, are the ones with the overall best prognosis for lifetime recovery.
Residential treatment is a often a critical step in the path to recovery for many struggling with addictive disorders as they enter into a safe and protected living environment, learn new skills at managing cravings and uncomfortable emotions, and start their process toward healing. However, once they leave the facility the work is almost always not done. Continued therapy post-rehab represents a way to improve outcomes and ensure your path forward to success.
Schedule an Appointment with an Addiction Counselor in Palm Beach County, FL
At Mangrove Therapy Group we specialize in treating all addictions – substance use disorders (SUD’s), process addictions – and focusing on all of the underlying issues that contribute to the problem. Contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our skilled addiction therapists experienced in guiding families who are struggling with a loved one’s addiction. To start your therapy journey, please follow these simple steps:
- Contact Mangrove Therapy Group
- Meet with a caring addiction counselor who can support you in your journey to recovery.
- Start creating a new life for yourself!
Other Services Offered with Mangrove Therapy Group
Therapy for addictions isn’t the only service offered at our Palm Beach County, FL-based practice. Our clinicians are experts in treating trauma and PTSD/C-PTSD. But, they are also experts in treating body image issues, eating disorders, “Failure to Launch” syndrome, personality disorders, grief and loss, problems with self-esteem, and much more.