Years ago, many studies on addiction, including several studies from Dr. Robert DuPont, determined long-term successful outcomes for individuals suffering from addiction. Studies of medical professionals and airline pilots showed 5 year “successful” recovery outcomes for those individuals that had engaged in long-term clinical treatment services, community-based recovery support systems, and ongoing monitoring. The results of these studies demonstrated “success rates” of between 75% to 85% and sometimes higher, demonstrating that those individuals who engaged in those three major pieces were not only sober but employed and reported a high quality of life.
Additionally, numerous medical and scientific findings show that addiction is a brain disease and that the individual suffering from substance use disorder has, in essence, a hijacked brain. Evidence suggests that it takes at least 90 days to heal the brain and, through different approaches and techniques, rewire the brain in order to support ongoing long-term addiction recovery.
So. what does this tell us about addiction? It tells us that time is our friend. It tells us that traditional quick fixes like “I just need to detox” or “I just need 30 days in rehab” are not the best ways to achieve long-term recovery. It tells us that any person suffering from addiction, substance use disorder, or co-occurring disorders most likely is in need of a long-term continuum of care that includes clinical treatment, recovery support, and monitoring in order for their hijacked brain to heal and for them to learn and implement new coping skills and healthy approaches to living. We know that not everyone’s treatment will look the same, that a continuum of care may vary from person to person, and that not every person suffering from addiction needs the same exact blueprint for recovery. However, we do know that to set up an individual for their best chance as a long-term, sustainable recovery, they will need long-term care and support. This goes for anyone suffering from addiction during any period in their life.
However, when you combine all that information under the current situation of the COVID-19 public health pandemic, the importance of long-term addiction treatment is even more vital to an individual’s chances of success in recovery and, ultimately, success in life.
The answer is because the coronavirus and its impact on society as a whole and our everyday lives are literally creating greater barriers to recovery for those suffering from addiction and seeking sobriety. The traditional approach by many people in terms of receiving treatment for addiction was either a short detox stay or a 28-day residential treatment program. Afterward, they may transition to an intensive outpatient (IOP) treatment program, or individual therapy and/or individual psychiatry, and were (hopefully) always given a suggestion of attending 12 Step meetings or other forms of community support mutual aid groups. While many people that did engage found long-term recovery, this was a model littered with potential barriers to recovery. So combine that traditional model of treatment with the barriers now in place due to the coronavirus, and we know that a long-term comprehensive continuum of care better is the best option to support appropriate clinical treatment for addiction and support for recovery from addiction. We know that, as society stands now, dealing with ongoing social distancing, stay-at-home orders, daily isolation, lack of employment options, and financial hardships, the barriers are even greater. Discharging from a short-term detox facility or a 28-day rehab and then expecting a patient to engage in virtual IOP, individual therapy or psychiatry via telehealth and zoom, and/or beginning to engage in regular engagement in Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, other 12 Step programs, SMART Recovery, or any other community-based recovery community through virtual means. is a concerning approach at best. Yes, some will do so and be fine, but it certainly isn’t ideal.
The dangers of addiction persist, and now individuals seeking recovery from addiction must do so in a changing society, a new normal, where social interaction is limited, traditional connection is difficult, and the dangers of the COVID-19 public health pandemic walk side-by-side with America’s addiction epidemic. Therefore, now more than ever, the need for a strong, supportive, comprehensive long-term treatment plan is needed and recommended. Long-term treatment, whether at a single facility or through a collaborative approach of multiple facilities, will better support patients that seek sobriety and long-term recovery, as well as support them in staying healthy and safe. During the present moment, a long-term treatment continuum of care doesn’t just help to ensure long-term recovery, but it also may be the best plan for a patient in early recovery to ensure their health, wellness, and safety.
There is nothing to rush home to for patients. The usual excuses why they cannot engage in long-term care hold even less water than before, not that they ever did so to begin with in the first place. Wanting to see friends and family, a planned vacation, work, a scheduled elective medical procedure. All these reasons are no longer valid. A patient leaving a short-term rehab will be returning home, and staying home, to sit with themselves in early recovery, often returning either home alone to isolation or home to a family unit or family system that has been negatively impacted by addiction and needs help and support as well.
Instead, why not use this time as a gift? Why not use this time to set yourself up for the best chance at success? Why not use this time that has been offered you to seek the appropriate, comprehensive clinical care and support you need that will best set you up to overcome your addiction, find freedom from drugs and alcohol, and help you find a life worth living? Why not use this time to help you find the life filled with fulfillment, purpose, and direction that you deserve?
If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or co-occurring disorder issues, or long-term addiction treatment please give us a call. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive dual diagnosis addiction treatment in the Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or your loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (410) 773-0500 or email our team at [email protected]. For more information on all of our drug addiction, alcohol addiction and co-occurring disorder services and recovery resources, please visit our web site at www.marylandaddictionrecovery.com.