Tuesday, January 18, 2022

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Drug and Alcohol Rehab in Carrollton, GA

According to hospital records taken from Carrollton ERs, more than one hundred people were admitted to the hospital due to heroin overdoses. In addition, 130 were treated for overdosing on prescription opioids like oxycontin, percocet, vicodin, or lortab. While opioid addiction has become an epidemic all across America, Carrollton overdoses from opioid-based drugs accounted for more hospital visits than cocaine, crack, meth, ecstasy, and other prescription medications combined.

While these numbers may seem staggering, the number of deaths in Georgia due to drugs comes in just below the national average. This is largely because Georgia offers some of the most effective drug and alcohol treatment centers in the country. Further, its treatment facilities are tightly regulated by both the state, and internally by the high standards of the American Medical Association.

For Carrollton and Atlanta Metropolitan residents looking to turn their lives around and kick the habit, there are quality resources out there that will help them do just that. But they and their loved ones may be unsure of what the process entails, and let’s face it, major changes such as this one can be scary, especially when you’re taken out of a comfortable, albeit dangerous, place and tossed into a frightening, albeit healthy, one.

It won’t be easy, but knowing what to expect will help many manage the transition easier. So, these are the fundamental elements of drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Hopefully, knowing what to expect will make the process less intrusive.

Drug Assessments: What They are and How They’re Conducted

A drug assessment is the first step in recovery for the many millions of people who have successfully quit using addictive drugs or alcohol. The assessment is designed to help your doctors develop a successful detox plan and treatment regimen.

Drug assessments generally include the following:

  • Urine and blood tests to determine toxicity levels
  • Questionnaires designed to determine a patient’s beliefs surrounding their drug or alcohol use
  • A patient history that should include not only the personal history of the patient, but also a history of their family members
  • A mental health assessment that can determine any factors that contribute to the desire for drugs and alcohol
  • A safety screening to determine the likelihood that a patient would harm themselves either passively by overdosing or actively. This may include an assessment for suicidal ideation or desire.
  • A physical assessment to determine the extent that a patient’s drug abuse has had on their physical health

Drug assessments are meant to do just that: assess an individual patient’s condition and determine what the best treatment plan would be for their recovery. It helps doctors familiarize themselves with your case and understand the extent of the addiction.

Intake and Detox

This is where the real work begins. It is often the scariest and most difficult part of the process for those with drug dependency issues and their families. Heroin and opioid addiction is renowned for its painful detox, but alcohol detox can be just as painful and dangerous. This is especially true when it’s not overseen by a trained medical staff.

Many folks with drug issues fear detox the most, but medical science has gotten fairly good at making the process as painless as possible. Nonetheless, those that are going through detox, especially for alcohol and opioids, need to have medical staff on hand to manage the process, and to ensure that it’s as safe and comfortable as possible.

That being said, there are a number of things to keep in mind.

Drugs for Easing the Symptoms of Withdrawal

Rehab clinics may administer drugs such as Ativan or Methadone to patients that are suffering from severe withdrawal syndromes. Ativan is generally prescribed to those that are going through alcohol withdrawal because it helps manage the symptoms of delirium tremens. Heroin or opioid addicts may need a drug like Methadone that will help relieve the symptoms of withdrawal. In the latter case, it becomes a matter of weaning a patient off the addictive substance.

The process of weaning patients off helper drugs like Methadone is often among the most difficult parts of the process. Physically, the addiction is still there, and likewise, the craving for the substance remains. These drugs provide a temporary buffer that makes the process less painful, but the pain of detoxing can’t be eradicated entirely. This is another reason why inpatient treatment during this phase is crucial. The desire to go back to using the substance of choice will be at its strongest here.

Dual Diagnosis or Co-Occurring Patients

Dual diagnosis and co-occurring refers to patients that have substance dependency issues that occur alongside another mental health diagnosis. This includes major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. It also can include personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder. Patients with co-occuring mental health and addiction diagnoses are extremely vulnerable to the lure of drug addiction. For them, it will mean not only becoming aware of how their mental health diagnosis impacts their desire to use, but maintaining and managing their health moving forward more proactively.

For obvious reasons, many folks with mental health diagnoses choose to self-medicate their condition with street drugs or alcohol. This has a nasty tendency to make matters worse. Hence, their treatment plan will not only involve the managing of their detox, but also getting the symptoms of their mental health problems under control.

This might involve the prescription of antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications. For those with schizophrenia and related conditions, it may involve the prescription of an antipsychotic.

Post-detox Treatment Options

Post-acute detox symptoms can last up to twelve months after the patient has cleaned the drug out of their system. There is such a thing as psychological and emotional detox. Unfortunately, it can be every bit as difficult and painful as the process of physically detoxing. Patients are generally very vulnerable at this stage. In fact, most relapses occur within six months of detox. Thus there are a number of intensive ways that rehab clinics manage a patient’s sobriety after they’ve detoxed from their drug of choice

Inpatient or Residential Treatment Programs (RTC)

Detox isn’t the end of drug rehabilitation. It’s just the beginning. The cravings remain and the desire for the drug of choice won’t diminish entirely simply because the physical addiction has been kicked. In fact, most of those who relapse do so after detoxification has occurred. The urge to use will remain strong for the rest of a patient’s life.

For this reason, many patients choose to remain in a residential program for up to 90 days after initial intake. Most residential programs last at least 30 days. The sense of doing this is that the psychological lure of the drug remains strong even after the withdrawal symptoms have diminished.

During a residential treatment program, the patient will be with others who are also attempting to kick the addiction. They will receive both one on one treatment from board certified therapists, and be part of groups that aim at educating them on how to remain sober once they’re released. This includes learning tools and skills to manage their lives moving forward.

Community is a major factor in healing and having a support structure is one of the key components of recovery. It’s the reason why programs like NA and AA are so successful. Having a safe outlet in which to talk about their experiences helps patients come to terms with their personal history and understand their motivations for using drugs in the past.

One other obvious benefit of inpatient programs is that it prevents patients from re-entering situations in which they’ll have easy access to their drug of choice. As stated prior, patients tend to be extremely vulnerable during this period, and going back to persons, places, and things that encourage their addiction makes it that much more difficult for them to maintain their sobriety. Residential treatment facilities enable a patient to focus fully on their recovery.

Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP)

Partial hospitalization programs are a hybrid between inpatient and outpatient programs. They involve spending part of the day at the hospital facilities. Patients are allowed to go home or to a sober living environment.

There will be some patients for whom partial hospitalization is not a good option. This includes patients that will be going back to environments in which the temptation for using is very high.

Daily structure is provided for PHP patients who are required to be at the hospital from 9am to 4pm for groups and sessions. Off hours, the patient will be required to abstain from drugs and alcohol and are likely to be tested frequently for relapse.

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP)

IOP programs are designed for those that can provide their own structure. They’re ideally suited to patients with a strong support structure, are highly motivated to remain clean and sober, and don’t need the medical support that PHP or RTC provides. These programs offer daytime and evening meetings designed to fit around the patient’s schedule.

Which Treatment Option is Best?

This depends entirely on the individual patient. Most patients have gotten used to a lifestyle that includes excessive drugs and alcohol and this has resulted in their lives becoming unmanageable. For a patient who has a solid support structure and whose home environment provides them with a drug free environment, IOP or PHP are going to be suitable options. Most patients end up needing the intensive care that RTC provides, but each patient’s needs are different.

Continuing Care After Rehab has Concluded

Relapses happen in large number of cases. This is because patients who have fully recovered from their drug treatment start to build normal lives again. They’re surrounded by people they care about. They’re working. Things are going well for them. They then think that because they’re doing well they can go back to partying and that it won’t get out of control like it did the last time. Suddenly, their work gets sloppy and they lose their job. Their relationships fall apart because managing their addiction becomes more important to them, and they’re right back where they started.

Outpatient treatment does the best it can in terms of managing co-occurring mental health problems and tox screening those as a condition of treatment, but it takes a real commitment on behalf of the individual patient to maintain their sobriety. Absent that, it doesn’t work at all.

Therapies for Recovering Addicts

For most recovering addicts Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is extremely helpful for staying focused on their sobriety and establishing goals for the future. The ultimate goal is to change patterns of thinking that have led to self-destructive behavior in the past. Cognitive behavioral theory holds that our thoughts influence our actions and behavior. By controlling and directing our thoughts, we can more successfully manage our behavior.

For recovering addicts, this means identifying their triggers to use drugs or alcohol, and avoiding situations that may cause a relapse. But further, it also involves changing the meaning that we give to certain stressful events that may cause those in recovery to relapse. Since on a long enough time scale, stress is unavoidable, recovering addicts are taught ways to manage stress in a healthy way.

Twelve Step Programs

Many people in recovery find 12 step programs to be immensely helpful. This is largely because they provide a support structure for those that have none and those that need to be able to discuss the issues relevant to recovering addicts with those that understand and have gone through the process.

Sober Living Environments

For those that are in a difficult situation concerning their housing, there are a number of options that the State of Georgia and Carroll County provide for those that need a place to stay while they rebuild their lives. These include transitional living services where former patients can live with roommates who are also going through roughly the same circumstances they are.

This type of living arrangement provides medical and psychiatric services as well as career counseling and other avenues toward rebuilding a person’s life.

Moving Forward with a Sober Life

Boredom, loneliness, and hopelessness are three major roadblocks that recovering addicts face. It is thus imperative that they have a community of people around that understand what they’re going through because they’ve been there before. They need the structure and support of those who care about them and medial staff that can help them manage the other obstacles they face on the road to recovery.

If you or someone you love is in the thrall of drug addiction, help is out there and recovery is possible. Reaching out is the first step toward a brighter future.