Why Didn’t Recovery Last?

There’s No Quick Fix for Addiction

Recovering from active addiction is not like taking your car to get maintenance. A car, unlike a person, can be brought to a mechanic, have the broken parts replaced, and then driven off in new working order like it never had a problem. People are different. To recover from addiction is unfortunately not like replacing a part on a car at all; it’s not something that can be fixed overnight. It’d be great if a person could recover and be sent on their way to live their old life normally in a month. In fact, we wouldn’t mind if that was the case, the reality is just that this doesn’t work consistently, and the data supports structured long-term recovery models.

Since 1985, our structured model has been at least a year long for this reason: recovery takes time to integrate into one’s life. That’s precisely what recovery is; it’s a refinement (often dramatic) of one’s lifestyle and even their identity. A 30-day program doesn’t have time to integrate a new lifestyle into the person struggling with Substance Use Disorder; they can merely educate and introduce them, and help them abstain physically. A 30-day program depends on aftercare and/or outpatient to ensure its success because this is when the new lifestyle gets integrated into the person’s life.

Physical and Psychological Dependence

Unfortunately, addiction is much deeper than pure physical dependence; there’s a deep psychological component. While using, drugs and alcohol become the source of identity, lifestyle, friendship circle, and even purpose. The addict’s entire life revolves around abuse, and only by reworking, changing, and instilling a new lifestyle over time can one really tackle the meat of the issue. There’s a distinction between physical and psychological dependence that’s important to understand. Addiction is intensely psychological. The behaviors that an addict displays for years and the “passion” an addict has for the high becomes the scope of their focus. Due to the brains neuroplasticity, this individuals brain literally re-wires into an addicted brain that behaves a certain way, and it takes a time of consistent action to re-wire the brain to a healthy state exemplified through actions.

If physical detox were enough to obtain long-term sobriety, then relapse wouldn’t be much of a topic for conversation. The most common time for someone to relapse is inside of their first year of recovery, arguably because they haven’t instilled a new lifestyle yet. Aftercare programs have the time available to help guide a person towards a new way of living. There’s just no way to accomplish this inside of a few months, and even if an aftercare has a year to help, the individual in question is responsible for continuing to behave in a way that’s conducive to their own personal development.

“It Works If You Work It”

But there are two parts to every story. It wouldn’t be fair to throw the entirety of the blame on the ineffectiveness of short-term treatment models without after-care. Even in a long-term program, the individual seeking to recover must be actively involved in their process; it’s not something that anyone can force onto an individual and expect it to stick. At the end of an AA meeting, they often say this saying; “it works if you work it” and there’s a lot of truth to this simple expression. In order for recovery to last, the individual must be working actively to earn it and then to sustain it, over a period of time.

Now, in a certain sense, a good program utilizes methods to inspire and educate the individual on how to work their program to integrate a new lifestyle; thus helping them become a new person. The crucial component here is the teacher-student diaspora, and a large part of the responsibility falls on the student, not just the teacher.

Primary Treatment is not the Final Solution:

However, this isn’t an attack on 30-day primary care programs. This article is intended to educate you on how those programs are proven to less successful if they’re not followed up with some sort of aftercare program. Of course, there are the outliers who “wake up” inside of a detox and obtain long-term sobriety, but the data suggests that these people are few and far between, and thus the data supports that the probability of earning long-term sobriety is higher when an individual actively participates in a structured after-care facility. The reason is simple: a month isn’t long enough to “fix” the addiction problem.

There’s No Cure For Addiction

At this point, you’re probably asking yourself: What does it mean to “fix” the addiction problem anyways? The answer is unfortunately not what the average individual who’s suffering from Substance Use Disorder wants to hear. In fact, addiction isn’t something that is cured at all; it is something that is treated. THERE IS NO CURE FOR ADDICTION.  A primary care facility is in a position to treat a person physically and start tapping into the psychological treatment, but an aftercare facility is in a great position to treat the skewed thinking and destructive lifestyle that surrounds addiction.

This means that we can’t look at recovery as a quick fix at all, and in fact, it’s something that an individual continues daily for the rest of their lives. After-care programs have the opportunity to facilitate productive practices into a person’s life, but the responsibility also falls on the person to internalize them and continue them beyond the walls of the facility. Therefore, it’s a fallacy to think that recovery is something that happens overnight, and it’s unreasonable to believe that it should have been “cured” in a short period of time.

Why didn’t Rehab Work?

So, if you’re asking yourself why recovery didn’t work for you or your loved one, the answer is contingent on the circumstance. More often than not, it’s a direct result of the approach taken towards one’s treatment. The approach to find an immediate cure for a life-long problem if fueled by an expectation to find this cure inside of 30-days. This unreasonable approach towards treatment results in making no effort towards utilizing an after-care program that has the potential to alter one’s life. But an alternative is also possible, and it could be that the individual didn’t sustain, and expand upon their lifestyle in sobriety, which ultimately led them to a problematic prioritization of their responsibilities. Both are possible, and thus both should be addressed and avoided.

Is There A Quick Fix? NO.

In conclusion, it’s of maximum importance to realize that there is no cure for addiction, and it is something that is instead treated over a lengthy period of time. We must rid ourselves of the idea of a “quick fix” for substance abuse. It’s just not possible. Anybody trying to sell you otherwise is either uneducated or untrustworthy. We hope that your or your loved one take the time to follow the proven path to long-term recovery, and include after-care in your treatment plan.

Last Updated on May 24, 2022


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