Alcoholism, Addiction And Recovery

Drinking alcohol, doing drugs, gambling, gaming, having sex, watching porn or eating sweet things. We do these things because we enjoy them.

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These acts can make us feel good. The choice of behaviour that is preferred will probably depend on a number of factors including social status, availability and peer pressure. Once addicted we have become reliant on something that used to give us pleasure in order just to feel ‘normal’.


We find ourselves unable to stop once we start and at some point reach a stage where we are unable to live either with or without it.


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Once this stage is reached, stopping seems impossible and the addict is stuck in a seemingly endless cycle of trying to feel better and we do it in the only way we know how to. By this stage it may help the addict escape a little, but never to the extent that it did at the beginning.


That sense of ease and comfort that was once felt can never be found again in the same way. Life becomes anever-endingg chase for pleasure, but now everything around us is filled with chaos and disappointment.


The choice of substance or obsessive behaviour seems to be irrelevant and there are many different theories about what causes addiction. We believe that addiction is a symptom of an underlying emotional problem that the person feels unable to deal with.


One thing is certain though, the still suffering addict is constantly in a cycle trying to make themselves feel better.


They are trying to escape from a feeling or emotion that they do not like and by this time they will have no more of an idea what caused it than anyone else does.


They will often suffer from anxiety or depression as a result. Once addicted to a substance or a behaviour, it has become ‘the norm’, so getting clean, drying out or stopping becomes difficult.


It no longer feels normal to be free of the addiction. Living a clean and sober life seems impossible to the addict who is still in the grip of their illness.


Loneliness and isolation, low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, loss of family and friends, financial difficulties, physical or psychological damage and ultimately death. These are some of the consequences of addiction. Once in the downward spiral it can seem like there is no way out.


Person Centred Therapist Carl Rogers (1902-1987) said,

‘The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.’


Don’t be afraid to ask for help


Acceptance of how bad things have got and the willingness to ask for help are important in order for an addict to begin recovery.


In cases of physical or severe dependency, a medical detox may be needed. But the most important work starts once this has been done. Recovery from addiction depends on change. Not – as some would have you believe – by changing who the person is or taking away their identity, but helping them to rediscover the person that they really were all along.


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We have found that most, if not all addicts and alcoholics have lost their sense of identity and their self-belief. There can be many reasons for this, but being an addict or alcoholic will over time compound these feelings of worthlessness. At the same time, an addict will try to put on a brave face to the rest of the world.


We hide the addiction as well as we can because of the stigma and because our pride is so strong. We don’t want to be seen as weak. Inside though, there is a feeling of not belonging, of loneliness, of not being understood.


Recovery is a journey of discovery: – There is a way out.


There is no quick fix for addiction. Perhaps that is the hardest part. That is why for most people, the recovery journey needs to start in a residential rehab. These run various programs of recovery some of which last a few weeks, others are much longer.


Rehab centres  use group work and one to one therapy with one aim. That is to enable their clients to live a life in society without needing to revert back to their old addiction, whether it was escape through the ‘thrill’ of a bet, the ‘high ‘ of a crack pipe or the ‘oblivion’ of heroin, benzos or alcohol.


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The 12 step program and SMART Recovery are the better-known recovery models in the UK.


Both offer peer support and can begin to give back a sense of identity to recovering addicts. That feeling of belonging to a group, being ‘a part of’ instead of ‘apart from’ can be a powerful feeling to an addict who has felt isolated and lonely for so long.


Other treatment programs also involve group work as well as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Motivational Interviewing and other models of one to one therapy. All of these approaches overlap each other and have key components that encourage addicts to change their outlook and perspective of life.

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The British Journal of Psychiatry identifies five recovery processes that are beneficial in recovery.


  1. Connectedness – Being connected to other people in positive ways. This can start with peer groups and extends to friends, family and the community.
  2. Hope and Optimism – With these we can see a better life to work towards. Motivation to change our old ways and have dreams and goals for the future.
  3. Identity – Regaining a sense of self-worth and identity, becoming authentic and genuine – being the person we are meant to be (‘To thine own self be true…’ – William Shakespeare).
  4. Meaning and Purpose – Living a meaningful life to regain self-worth. Some people find spirituality important, while others may find meaning through employment or voluntary work. Being a useful member of the community helps us to feel valued. 12 step programs suggest helping others.
  5. Empowerment – Recognising our strengths and using them in a positive way. Working on weaknesses and not being afraid to ask for help from people with more experience or knowledge of recovery.


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    Detoxification (detox) is the medical intervention required for someone who is physically dependent to drugs or alcohol. If required, medical detoxification would be the first step taken in residential rehab. Detox is used to prevent uncomfortable and dangerous (even fatal) withdrawals symptoms resulting in suddenly becoming abstinent from alcohol/certain drugs.

    The goal of a medical detox is to aid in the physical healing required following long term addiction and rid the body of all together of substance whilst providing a cushion for unpleasant symptoms of withdrawals. Detox is not considered the whole treatment for drug/alcohol addiction and it is always recommended that a comprehensive rehabilitation program is used along side to help maintain long term abstinence.

    Medication is often required for alcohol detox. If you are dependent on alcohol and experiencing withdrawal symptoms it is vitally important to seek medical advice prior to stopping. There is a long list of medications used when treating alcohol addiction and the exact medication given to an individual will depend on their needs/medical history. Some of these include;

    • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
    • Lorazepam (Ativan)
    • Diazapam (vailium)

    Librium and Valium are the most commonly used detox medication in the UK. All medication used to help with alcohol detox have been proven to help reduce the effects of withdrawal symptoms.

    There are also a number of drugs recombined by the NHS to help treat alcohol misuse. Some of these include:

    • Naltrexone
    • Disulfiram (Antabuse)
    • Nalmefene
    • Acamprosate (campral)

    Medication is always required for heroin detox. For someone suffering from heroin addiction, the thought of detoxification (detox) can be exceptionally daunting. Withdrawal symptoms from opiates, such as heroin, can be severe and include pain, vomiting, nausea and shaking.

    There are different ways that heroin detox can be carried out, most usually either ‘maintenance therapy’ or ‘full medical detox’.

    Attempting to switch from heroin to a heroin substitute, usually on a controlled prescription, is known as Maintenance therapy. Subsites used are most often methadone or buprenorphine.

    A full medical detox from heroin will always be carried out in a residential rehab setting and will allow the individual to switch form heroin to a substitute and slowly withdraw completing treatment free of all substances. Someone using a heroin substitute can choose to have a full medical detox at any time, however detoxing substances such a methadone can often add to the length of detox required. Drugs most commonly used to fully detox from heroin are, Subutex, Suboxone and Methadone. Much like alcohol, the exact drugs used will be dependent on the individuals needs/medical history.

    Once detoxed from heroin the risk of overdose is much higher following relapse due to tolerance following withdrawal.

    The length of treatment in a residential rehab depends on a number of elements. Some substances require longer periods of detox than others.

    Private paying patients will also often choose a length of stay that suites their therapeutic and financial needs. As a rule, a full treatment program in a rehab is considered to be 28 days (often referred to as a month), however, treatment is offered in several different ways and lengths starting at 7 days.

    Treating alcohol addiction will always require a minimum of 7-10 days, this would be considered the detoxification (detox) faze. The length required for treating drug addiction can vary drastically depending on the substance being used. Detox for Heroin addiction is generally around 14 days minimum, with more time required if substances such a methadone are being used. Treating prescription drug addiction can often take the longest. The time required for treating gambling addiction, eating disorders and sex addiction will be based on the individuals needs.

    Rehab programs can be as long as an individual requires but primary treatment is normally caped at 12 weeks, with the offering for further secondary and tertiary treatment thereafter.

    *based on average rehab stays, everyone will vary dependant on needs and medical requirement/history.

    There is no need for your employer to know that you are seeking help for trauma and addiction unless you choose to involve them with the process. All employers should have a policy that explains what you do if you cannot come to work due to illness – illness to include treating alcohol addiction/treating drug addiction.

    If your work absence extends over 7 days your employer is likely to require an official statement of fitness to work which would be obtained from your GP. This would need to supply evidence of your illness as well as any adjustments required for returning to work, fazed return or reduced hours, but does not need to specify in detail the reason why you have been absent.

    If you are absent from work for 7 days of less, for example entering rehab for a detoxification (detox) on a Saturday for 7-10 days taking a full week away from work, you can self-certify your illness by letting your employer work you will not be attending work for that period of time. Exactly how an individual would do this would be dependent on a specific companies’ policies on taking sick leave.

    Any time longer than 7 days it is likely an employer will require a note from the individuals GP certifying their sickness and a fit note on return. Most companies have a clearly outlined policy on sickness and receiving sick pay so the exact requirement can vary. A rehab will always be willing to advise on time off work.

    How much does rehab cost is a very frequently asked question. The cost of treatment can range from £1,000 per week upwards depending on the place, with luxury rehab being the most expensive.

    There are free options available on the NHS but the waitlist of those looking for free treatment is longer than that for privately paying patients. Some private health insurance policies will cover treatment in some rehabs around the country.

    Choosing the right rehab centre will often be based on priced but it is important to follow guidance on the most suitable treatment centre for an individual’s needs which our expert team of advisers are on hand to offer.

    There are certainly pro’s for both treatment near by and traveling for treatment with one of the most asked question being should I get rehab near me? There are rehabs all over the UK and around the world that all offer expert programs, let’s look at how to choose a rehab.

    Local treatment

    Being close to home gives certainly has benefits. Visitors are normally permitted in rehab following the first 7 days stay, therefore if an individual is in treatment for a length of time longer than that being local will make it easier for loved ones to visit.

    Most rehab centres will also provide a full aftercare plan for someone following treatment, this will include ongoing aftercare in the specific treatment centre. Living close by can make it easy to take full advantage of ongoing aftercare. There can also often be the option for ongoing care with an individual therapist, again being close by will allow that treatment to be carried out face to face.

    Some individuals wish to be local but are willing to look broader, for instance the greater city of residence (London, Manchester, Liverpool, etc)

    Treatment Away

    Getting treatment away from home can be very appealing to some. Being out of the local area makes it a lot harder to just walk out of treatment as resources locally are unknown. Some also take comfort in knowing that they are not near home and focus more on treatment.

    As the price for treatment can vary so much from one residential treatment centre to another, private paying patients often would rather travel to keep the cost down. Those using private health insurance may also have to travel to find a treatment centre covered in their policy.

    When opting for treatment away from home this can be anywhere in the UK and also abroad. Aftercare can still be carried out and very successful using tools such as The Online Rehab.

    There is no right or wrong when choosing where to go to residential rehab, but our expert advisors are always on hand to help provide information on all possible options.

    Whilst millions of people in the UK have taken recreational drugs (amphetamine, cannabis, cocaine, crack, crystal meth, GHB, heron, ketamine, methadone, and prescription drugs) and drank alcohol not all become ‘addicted’. Most recent reports show that 279,793 individuals were in contact with drug and alcohol misuse services in the last year with over half of that being from opiate addiction and a quarter for alcohol.

    There are several risk factors invoiced in addiction and those using drugs and alcohol socially, simply take the risk. These risks are as follows;

    Tolerance – basically, if a substance is used repeatedly an individual’s tolerance to it will build. This will result in more of the same substance being required to get the same effect. In the long run this can easily lead to addiction and physical dependencies.

    Environmental risks – these can include influences such a peer pressure and stress as well as physical or mental abuse of an individual (particularly as a child). Overall, those who live with frequent pressures and stress are more likely to reach for a substance to cope and are therefore at higher risk of becoming addicted.

    Drug type – it is very well known that certain drugs are simply more addictive than others. Using substances such as heroin increases the risk of becoming addicted for need to ‘chase’ a high as well as physical dependency.

    Drug administration – how a drug is administered can affect its addictive qualities. A drug injected rather than smoked or snorted will release a quicker and more intense high thus making it psychologically (and in many cases physically) more addictive.

    Biological factors – it is now widely reported that being an addict is not only psychological but also biological. This includes your genetic makeup, mental health, sex and age. It is also reported to be 8 times more likely for the child of an addict to become an addict themselves.

    Its believed that addiction is approximately half genetics and therefore some are 50% more likely to become addicted than others.

    How do you help a loved one trapped in addiction?

    The first step is to help and encourage the individual to become willing to accept help. They do not need to be shouting this off the rooftops, but they do need to be willing to go into treatment. There are ways to help someone become willing to get treatment for alcohol or treatment for drugs.

    Set boundaries – set boundaries and stick to them. Once you have laid them out follow through with whatever consequences you have set however hard it is.

    Stop finances – if you are financially supporting someone stopping these finances can be the quickest way for the addict needing to ask for help. With no money to acquire a substance an addict’s options become very limited.

    Intervention – getting together with other family members/friends/colleagues and staging an intervention is often very successful in the fist stage of acceptance and gaining an admission to residential rehab.

    You can’t make them quit, this can lead to dangerous withdrawal. Boundaries are very important in helping someone become willing to get help. Unfortunately you cannot do someone’s recovery for them and without self-motivation it is very hard to make it work.

    The next step is to call our highly trained advisers 0203 955 7700.

    There is a huge range of rehab options available and where to start can be completely over whelming so let us help.