Addiction Recovery

Addiction is a debilitating disease, known to be responsible for severe health-related problems, which contribute to many serious health consequences. But the effects of addiction aren’t just health-related; they also spread to other aspects of a user’s life without sparing their loved ones and environment as a whole.

While addiction to drugs and certain illicit substances (known as physical dependence or substance misuse disorder) are the most common forms, many people also become addicted to behavioural activities such as shopping, gambling, and video gaming, love and sex, and more. Although some addictions are less dangerous and have only fleeting impacts, it’s advised that thing is taken for granted.

The good news is that addiction – as an illness – responds positively to treatment. With the right tools and resources, an addict can beat their addiction and fully recover. However, this is a process that should be continuously maintained throughout their lives, as there is always a possibility of relapse.

If you or a loved one are experiencing any form of addiction and are maybe losing hope, do not despair, as there are treatment options available that can help you achieve full recovery. It’s important to learn exactly what this process entails, as well as how to achieve and maintain it.

Overcoming Addiction

Facing an addiction and defeating it are difficult tasks that require a strong desire, as well as all the help you can get. There’s much involved in addiction that makes recovery a complex process. However, despite the challenges, history has showed that the condition is one that addiction be defeated by implementing the right strategies.

If your body has grown dependent on a substance, like alcohol, or has become addicted to activities like sex or gambling, it will find it difficult to let go. The first step to achieving freedom from addiction is acknowledging that you have a problem and deciding to fight it. However, if you have a loved one who is obstinate about accepting their problem, you can coerce or entice them into getting help using different intervention methods, including finding a professional licensed interventionist to help you out.

Finding the right treatment option is one of the defining choices of your recovery process that can make or break your efforts. By consulting a confidential addiction helpline, your issues can be taken into account to provide guidance to the ideal treatment programme for you.

Even after treatment, the recovery journey won’t be over, as you and your loved ones will continue to experience challenges as you move forward. For instance, there are environmental and social factors that could potentially trigger a relapse. Despite this, you can always beat these challenges and maintain your recovery by applying the skills you learnt during rehab.

Defining Addiction Recovery

Often, recovery can be an esoteric term and only those affected will understand what it means to go through this difficult phase: the challenges, different stages, and numerous benefits. The term ‘recovery’ can seem different for those around the addict, who might not understand what they’re going through – especially the difficulties that spring up from time to time.

Recovery is essentially a dynamic and complex process, overarching all the positive benefits to mental, physical, social, and emotional health that can be enjoyed by a person formerly addicted to drugs, alcohol or any other activity, who have since received the help they need. Strictly speaking, family members and those close to the addict (who have been affected by the addiction of their loved one) also go through recovery.

The Stages of Addiction Recovery

Everyone’s journey is different. The specifics of each stage will vary according to their particular addiction, its severity, as well as the health profile of each individual. However, the road to recovery often follows a generic trajectory: hitting ‘rock bottom’, followed by acknowledging the problem and making the decision to seek help; gradually establishing a new way of life; and somewhere in between, addressing the difficulties and issues responsible for addiction and becoming stronger than ever. You do not need to hit rock bottom to find help; seek earlier to achieve an easier success.

While some people will be required to undergo residential rehab for treatment, others can achieve recovery by attending regular check-ups and treatment sessions from home. This is due to the uniqueness of addiction. While this is true, there are general stages that almost every addict will have to go through to gain freedom:

Awareness and Early Acknowledgement

The first step towards recovery is characterised by a growing perception that a problem is present. In some instances, this sense of awareness develops from interactions with friends, family members, neighbours or co-workers. Meanwhile in other cases, the realisation only occurs after the addiction has caused significant damages to an individual’s health, employment, finances, social life and relationships with others. While you or a loved one may still be actively engaged in an addictive behaviour and haven’t made any quantifiable progress towards quitting, this first step is crucial in opening the door to the recovery journey.

After accepting a problem, you can then begin to acknowledge that you need help to break free from your addiction. This transition from denial to willingness to act is one the most important aspects of this phase and acts as the very foundation to recovery.


The next stage in the recovery journey involves the shift to action from awareness and acknowledgement. During this period, you will find yourself ready to receive help, having earlier acknowledged that you need it. This is when you’ll begin to reflect on the dangers you’ve exposed yourself to and exactly what your addiction has cost you. Also, you’ll begin to look further than yourself and weigh the impact of your addictive behaviour on the lives of those around you.

When you take the remarkable step of learning new insights about your addiction, the transition from awareness to action will begin and the resolve to put an end to your problem once and for all will become stronger than ever. This is a very important stage, as it draws you closer to the practical stages of recovery.

Exploring Recovery

This is one of the defining stages which involves enlightening oneself on the journey to recovery and just what it means to turn your life around.

This is usually when we become motivated and invested in the idea of living an addiction-free life, which will be mirrored in our enthusiasm in exploring recovery options and carving out new ways to live.

If a loved one is in this stage of recovery, you’ll notice that they’ll become more open about their problems and begin to talk to close relatives about their plans to achieve freedom from addiction. It’s important to give them lots of support and positive suggestions to help them progress to receiving the help they need.

In the case where you’ve been addicted and are in this stage of recovery, you should make efforts to engage everyone close to you in this process and receive insights from other family members. Ideally, you could also get a professional involved to advise what steps to take next.

For most people, this third stage is where recovery actually starts. This is a reasonable assumption, as it’s the point at which we are introduced to the prospect of joining an addiction treatment programme.

Early Recovery

Early recovery is the stage where treatment, moderation, and abstinence begin. During early recovery, the addict will ideally be part of a treatment programme, where they’ll be learning coping skills and techniques to supress and defeat their urges. Early recovery isn’t easy to go through, as this is when withdrawal (in substance abuse cases) will take hold and cause certain difficulties. Further challenges will also be present, as people going through this stage of recovery will have to abandon certain activities, behaviours and people that have been intricate parts of their lives, while still establishing the foundations of their new addiction-free lives.

If you’re going through this stage, it’s important to maintain focus and hold your ground in the face of any challenges that might spring up.

If a loved one has reached this stage, you should also provide support, as they go through early recovery in order to help them stay on track.

Active Recovery and Maintenance

Getting to this stage means that you’ve done a great deal of work and achieved notable progress. You’ll also have learnt that recovery is an ongoing process and you’ll have to willingly engage in activities that will help you maintain abstinence for the rest of your life. This stage involves closely monitoring your behaviour, thoughts and engagements; practicing the skills you’ve learnt in rehab; keeping a support system; and staying alert to possible relapse triggers and temptations that could restart your addiction cycle.

While recovery is never easy to maintain, in getting to this stage, you or your loved one will have begun to lead lives that you may have considered unattainable at the beginning of this journey.

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Addiction Recovery Programmes for Drug Addiction

There are numerous recovery programmes for drug addiction in the UK; the right programme for you will depend on your personal circumstances. For instance, there is no single approach for treating addiction to drugs, as different drugs have varying interactions with the body and individual factors should also be considered.

Drug addiction programmes in competent facilities are always tailored to the personal condition of each addict, from start to finish. These programmes begin with a medically assisted detox programme that will treat your physical dependence and make the withdrawal process more bearable.

Once detox is over, you’ll go through rehabilitation, whereby your psychological dependence on addiction and any other mental health issues will be treated. During rehab, you’ll also be taught coping skills that will help you fight off relapse triggers and cravings.

Addiction Recovery Programmes for Behavioural Addictions

Unlike alcohol and drug addiction, behavioural addictions do not require detox programmes, as they are mainly psychological by nature. Treatment programmes for this kind of addictions include behavioural therapies geared towards helping the addict reclaim control, with regards when to engage in certain activities and when not to. Therapies employed include Cognitive behavioural therapy, Dialectical behavioural therapy and Psychodynamic processing, amongst others.

Addiction Recovery Options

There are different options for achieving recovery; the right one for you will depend on your individual situation. Treatment programmes with the most effective outcomes are those that ensure each patient is actively involved in therapeutic activities that will see them achieve abstinence and live free from addiction in the long run. Some recovery options include:

Inpatient Rehab: These rehab programmes offer treatment regimens that are designed to address issues from every aspect of an addict’s life that’s connected to their addiction. If you’re to undergo an inpatient rehab programme for drugs, alcohol, or behavioural addiction, you’ll be required to reside in a substance-free environment, where you’ll receive tailored, round-the-clock care and support.

Research states that inpatient treatment programmes are the best recovery options for people with severe addictions and dual diagnosis.

Outpatient Rehab: Outpatient rehab comprises comprehensive addiction treatment programmes that can also be structured to the condition of each patient. However, unlike inpatient programmes, you’ll be allowed to live at home as you undergo treatment. Subsequently, you can go about your normal day to day activities as you receive treatment via scheduled appointments.

Outpatient programmes are ideal for people who have mild cases of addiction that can be handled without the need for residential treatment. It’s important to note that this type of treatment could expose you to certain relapse triggers, as you won’t be residing in a facility free from the subject of your addiction. Also, outpatient treatment can be a necessity for people with time-restraining responsibilities that prevent them from living in a residential clinic. However, if you fall into this category and have a chronic case of addiction, please consider attending an inpatient programme.

Recovery and the Psyche

Addiction is a unique medical condition that affects the body of an addict, as well as their mind. While some physical conditions such as pain management lead to addiction (in the case of opiates dependence), psychological issues are mostly the cause of drug and alcohol abuse. Most addicts have a history psychological trauma or a type of mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety.

These issues lead people to take drugs and/or alcohol in order to ease their pain, boost their sense of confidence, or stay relaxed. However, while these substances prove effective in dousing their pain, they cause changes in the brain that keep these people hooked. For most, they continue to take the substances for the pleasurable effects, while others stay hooked to stave off withdrawal symptoms.

In the case of behavioural addictions like gambling and sex addiction, the affected individuals can’t seem to control their urges, as the brain has become used to the presence of increased levels of dopamine that come as a result of engagement in these activities.

This psychological hold of addiction is the reason you’ll need behavioural therapy if you’re going to maintain your recovery. Through therapy, you’ll learn how to take care of the condition that led to your addiction via alternative means, as well as learn new coping strategies that will prove helpful in the long run.

Recovery Skills and Tools of Recovery: Coping Skills

Getting to manage your recovery is much more than refusing to use again or completely abstaining from the behaviour you were once addicted to. To beat your addiction for good, you’ll need to totally revamp your way of life by changing the aspects of that initially introduced you to the substance(s) of addiction.

Avoid high risk situations

Some of the known high risks situations are hunger, anger, loneliness and tiredness. These are basic conditions that can trigger an urge to use again. Other situations include stress, keeping company that encourages substance misuse or engagement in certain activities, as well as boredom and idleness. You should make efforts to always desist from these situations after treatment in order to avoid relapse.

Learn to relax

Stress and worry are potent relapse triggers that can cause powerful urges to surface. Tension (which is a cause of addiction in and of itself) could cause you to believe that you need to use again to get through the night or perform certain tasks. The inability to relax, coupled with tension, is the most common reason for relapse.

Join a self-help programme

Self-help programmes or support groups consist of recovering addicts who come together to help each other overcome the challenges that occur during the recovery journey. By joining one of these communities, you’ll learn new ways to defeat your triggers and cravings through the experiences shared by fellow addicts. Group members can also provide emotional help and support when you’re vulnerable.

What Is SMART Recovery?

Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) is an independent, non-profit body, which provides free support groups for people who have the desire to gain freedom from their substance dependence or behavioural addictions. SMART recovery isn’t a twelve-step programme, as it employs a behavioural approach to helping members manage their addictions.

Members are guided through the four-point programme of the organisation, which include:

  • Building and maintaining motivation
  • Coping with urges
  • Managing behaviours, thoughts, and feelings
  • Living a balanced life

There are in-person SMART recovery meetings held across the UK, which can be accessed through certain community programmes. You can also join online sessions and glean information and support from the message boards and round-the-clock chat rooms.

What Is Urge Surfing?

Urge surfing is a coping skill developed by Alan Marlatt, based on the mindfulness meditation principle. The technique is based on the theory that supressing cravings and urges will only increase their intensity, while trying to ignore them won’t do much good either. Cravings tend to last for no more than a half hour and can subside if you hold on for that long. However, those minutes can feel like years and cause you to relapse if you don’t approach the situation in the right manner.

The urge surfing technique involves focusing on your craving and paying great attention to it. Cravings are like waves that rise, but ultimately fall. Subsequently, by maintaining awareness of your urges on a second-by-second basis, without acting on the sensations you’re feeling (whether they’re good, dangerous, terrible or eternal), you can ‘ride the waves’ until they subside.

Four Things You Need to Know about Addiction Recovery

Addiction is a brain disease: Addiction is not an evidence of a character flaw or the result of moral failure. It is in fact a brain disease. It is treatable and you can live a healthy life with the right approach and an ongoing commitment to remain abstinent.

Recovery is an ongoing process: There is no ‘cure’ for addiction, as the recovery process is a life-long one. While you can achieve abstinence through treatment and rehab, staying abstinent requires hard work and commitment for the rest of your life.

There is no single method to treat addiction: Addiction encompasses dependence on drugs and/or alcohol, as well as addiction to certain behaviours and activities. Different treatment methods are employed for treating these various addictions. Treatment also has to be streamlined to the condition of each patient in order to be effective.

Relapse is not the end of the road: it’s a part of recovery: Using again after treatment does not render your recovery efforts a failure. It’s all part of the journey and also presents an opportunity for learning and getting better.

Find support for your Addiction Recovery

There‘s much more to recovery than putting an end to drug or alcohol misuse. Recovery is a complete transformation of body, mind, and spirit. While some people (with mild cases of addiction) can beat their substance misuse and recover with the support of friends and family, others whose addictions are moderate to severe will ideally need the help of addiction professionals.

Once treatment is over, strive to continue receiving all the support you can get through self-help programmes, as well as emotional help from family and friends.


Can addiction be treated successfully?

Yes, with the right resources and treatment approach, your addiction to drugs and alcohol (or any activity) can be successfully treated. However, you have to take the first step in accepting you have a problem. Making a firm resolve to beat your addiction will also ensure your treatment turns out to be successful. There are other factors that can determine successful treatment; these include going to the right addiction treatment facility and receiving all the emotional help and motivation that you can access. With the help of a confidential addiction helpline, you can be guided towards choosing the right treatment programme and facility for your condition.

Does abstinence equal recovery?

Abstinence and recovery are often used interchangeably. In fact, both terms refer to completely different situations; abstinence (in terms of addiction) means not taking drugs or alcohol, or refusing to partake in other addictive behaviours, like sobriety. This only means tackling the issue of addiction on the surface by refusing to engage any longer without addressing the underlying issues of addiction, such as depression, anxiety, family history, and mental illness.

On the other hand, recovery involves the healing process of every aspect of your life, from physical and mental well-being to emotional and spiritual stability. Recovery involves repairing every part of your life that may have been affected in one way or another by addiction, rather than just abstaining from a substance or activity. While you can achieve abstinence by resolutely refusing to engage in your addiction, you could continue to suffer the consequences of addiction, until you get help to recover.

Can addiction be cured?

While treatment is the best way to recover from addiction, you won’t be permanently cured. You shouldn’t trust any rehab centre that promises to cure your addiction indefinitely. Treatment and rehab work to help you regain control of your life by helping you repair psychological damage and teaching you skills that will help you cope in the future after treatment is complete. Recovery from addiction is a life-long process and there are challenges from which you could relapse along the way.

Does relapse to drug use mean treatment has failed?

No. Relapse is part of the recovery process. Recovering from addiction can be difficult and there are challenges that may come up along the way. Relapse is a recognised possibility, as there are times where you’ll be too vulnerable and give in at your weakest. However, this doesn’t mean that your treatment has failed. Rather, it’s an opportunity to further reflect on your mistakes and learn from the experience. While it’s heart-breaking to suffer a relapse, you can it turn it into a positive by resolving to stand your ground when next you’re faced with such a situation.

How do behavioural therapies treat drug addiction?

Addiction occurs as a result of changes in brain chemistry caused by engaging in certain behaviours, such as drug or alcohol consumption, or activities like sex or gambling. To revert the brain to its pre-addicted state, it’s important that an addict goes through rehabilitation by receiving behavioural therapy and counselling. Therapy will work to achieve this by identifying and addressing the issues that may have caused your addiction and those that resulted from it. You’ll be further mentored on strategies and skills that will help you correct behavioural faults and stave off relapse triggers.

How do the best treatment programmes help patients recover from addiction?

The best treatment programmes are those that follow the principles of effective treatment accordingly. There are addiction treatment facilities in the UK that employ a whole-person approach, focus on different aspects of an addict’s life, employ medication therapies – as well as different forms of advanced behavioural therapies – and also treat cases of dual diagnosis with an integrated approach to ensure an addiction is successfully defeated. You can be connected to such a treatment centre by contacting a free confidential addiction helpline for consultation.

What are the principles of effective treatment?

The following are principles of effective treatment for addiction:

  1. There’ is no single method to treating every case of addiction. Treatment for addiction varies as a result of the different characteristics of each addict, as well as differences in type of addiction.
  2. It’s important that treatment is readily available whenever an addicted person has made the choice to fight their problems. This will boost the chances of successful recovery, as the earlier an addiction is treated, the greater the prospect of success.
  3. To ensure a positive outcome, treatment should address other contributing issues of addiction rather than just the drug, alcohol, or behavioural addiction of the individual. These factors include other psychological, medical, environmental, social, or vocational problems faced by the affected person.
  4. Flexibility is an important feature of an effective treatment method. While a treatment schedule will be devised from the beginning, there should be room for changes and modifications along the way, subject to the patient’s response to treatment, progress, and other factors.
  5. Addicts should remain in treatment for an adequate amount of time. The ideal duration an addict needs to spend in treatment will be ascertained from their level of addiction and personal circumstances. According to research, the appropriate amount of inpatient time for severe cases is approximately three months.
  6. Counselling (whether individual, group or family therapy) should be integrated into the addict’s treatment regimen, as it’s part of the most essential components of addiction treatment and recovery.
  7. Medications can also go a long way in helping stabilise an addict’s life and ease the recovery process. This kind of therapy shouldn’t be withheld from patients whose addiction can benefit from this.
  8. Cases of dual diagnosis – where an addict is suffering from a co-occurring mental health issue alongside their addiction- should be handled in an integrated manner, where both issues are treated simultaneously.
  9. Treatment shouldn’t end with medical detoxification; this is because medical detox is mainly designed to treat the physical symptoms of addiction, and by itself will not help with long-term recovery. Psychological treatment should follow in order to sever the mental and emotional connection the addict has to addiction.
  10. Treatment should not be restricted to voluntary entry, as it could be just as effective if, in certain cases, the addict is sanctioned or enticed by the criminal justice system, employer or family.
  11. Everyone in recovery must be monitored closely and continuously for possible drug use. This will enforce a sense of accountability and ensure the patient stays on track.
  12. There should be provisions for assessments and tests for infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, as well as Hepatitis B and C, with counselling. A good therapy includes ways to help patients understand how to avoid behaviours that may put them at risk of contacting any of these diseases.
  13. Addiction recovery is a long-term commitment, and patients should be provided continued support and encouraged, even in the case of relapse. Participation in self-help programmes should also be encouraged during and after treatment.

What medications and devices help treat drug addiction?

There are different medications that can assist in recovery from different cases of addiction. For example, Levo-alpha-acetylmethadol (LAAM) and Naltrexone can help people afflicted with addiction to opiates during recovery; Acamprosate and Disulfiram have also been helpful to people trying to maintain their recovery from alcohol addiction. Also, oral medications and Nicotine gum (or patches) are instrumental to recovery from Nicotine addiction. Medical devices are also being produced and approved daily to help addicts stay on track with recovery. You should always seek advice from your addiction professional with regards which drug to take and device to use during recovery.

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