When we go to the doctor for physical ailments like an ear infection or strep throat, there is typically a straightforward course of action. First, there will be an examination, which is followed by a diagnosis. Based on that diagnosis, the doctor prescribes medicine or another treatment. Then we follow that advice and are expected to get better. While this is what we expect to happen, sometimes, there needs to be a more tailored approach.
For example, the antibiotic the doctor prescribes may not work. Even after taking medication exactly as prescribed, your strep throat lingers. This means another course of action is needed. While the physician would not have prescribed that medicine first if they weren’t reasonably sure it would work, there are still other options. A less mainstream option may work for some people, whereas the first choice will work for others.
Seeking treatment for substance use disorder has similarities to this example. While there are evidence-based pathways for treatment, the precise details of treatment will be determined by the unique needs of an individual. Addiction looks different for everybody who lives with it. For this reason, having one method to treat it is unrealistic.
Understanding Your Family’s Unique Needs
When you look at your loved one, you see more than their substance abuse. You see their positive qualities, flaws, ambitions, and hesitations. They are not defined by their disease, and effective treatment should recognize that. In order for treatment to produce sustainable results, it needs to address an individual as a whole person rather than a collection of symptoms. This is why substance abuse treatment will look different for everybody.
The way that someone enters treatment can impact their experience overall. Someone who is motivated to start treatment may enter it sooner and be willing to hit the ground running. They will hit obstacles, and their path will in no way be easy, but that momentum early on in the process can be helpful.
Other people are hesitant or outright unwilling to enter treatment. These individuals may eventually be persuaded by an intervention or another external source. The beginning of treatment can be especially difficult for these individuals as they first come to terms with the nature of their condition and realize the changes they need to make. Both categories can succeed in treatment, but their needs differ.
Addiction and Mental Health
Sometimes, addiction can be more complicated, such as when undiagnosed or untreated mental health conditions are involved.
One aspect that will greatly impact someone’s treatment trajectory is their overall mental health. Addiction is often accompanied by comorbid conditions. These include:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
- Bipolar disorder
Substance abuse does not exist in a vacuum; it is both a physical and mental condition.
The relationship between addiction and mental health is bidirectional; worse mental health can exacerbate addiction, while addiction can worsen mental health. It is because of this that other mental health concerns should not go unchecked. If your loved one is living with depression or anxiety in addition to their substance abuse, their treatment should integrate these components.
Another element to consider is one’s family. Involving family in treatment can have positive effects on recovery. Engaging in family therapy can benefit not only the person in recovery but their family members as well. Each family will bring something unique to the table.
Some families need to work on feelings of anger and betrayal stemming from their loved one’s addiction. Others find that their focus is on establishing healthier communication patterns and practicing honesty and openness. Just as each person entering treatment will have a different story and unique set of needs, each family will have its own tapestry of concerns.
Finding the Right Fit
The success of treatment depends on many factors, one of which is being the right fit for the client and treatment provider. Some people prefer to work with someone similar to them in culture or worldview, while others see the value in working with someone who is very different from themselves. You don’t need to be best friends with your provider, and in fact, you shouldn’t be.
Treatment can sometimes feel adversarial when confronting the notion that the way you are living your life is causing harm to yourself and your loved ones. This can become a shameful process, but working with a provider who is compassionate yet professional can help you channel those emotions into motivation for recovery while providing you with the appropriate tools.
The most important consideration when choosing a provider is whether they are licensed and have experience. Beyond that, much of the success of the partnership boils down to the methods they use and your rapport. Rapport can take time to develop, but if you ever feel uncomfortable or unsafe with a provider, finding a better fit can more effectively help you meet your treatment goals. Finding the right fit can take time and alter the timeline of treatment, but working with the right person can make all the difference for you and your family.
Getting Back on Track After Relapse
Recovery is a process rather than a state of being. It takes constant work and vigilance to maintain sobriety and cope with triggers. This is why relapses are not uncommon during treatment and recovery, especially early in the process. A relapse is not an indictment or a sign that treatment is not working. It is instead an event that provides information.
If your loved one relapses, it tells their treatment team they may need a different approach. During these times, it is crucial to remember that sometimes adjustments need to be made to the treatment plan to account for changing needs. A setback is not the end of treatment. Your loved one can come back even stronger and continue making progress on their own unique timeline.
Substance abuse looks different for everyone, and the same can be said for treatment. Treatment plans are developed based on an individual’s needs rather than coming premade and ready to implement for everyone who walks through the door. A careful assessment is needed to develop the appropriate path, and even then, it is not set in stone, as adjustments may need to be made. This can be a time-consuming process, but it is designed to maximize the effectiveness of treatment in promoting sustained recovery. Family-Centered Services is committed to getting to know your loved one and developing the right treatment plan. We offer comprehensive services ranging from therapy to sober monitoring. Call (509) 991-5822 to learn how we can help.