The idea of addiction treatment as self-care may seem a little odd or wishy-washy. Often when we think of entering treatment, it is for the sole reason of recovering from addiction or substance misuse issues. Our lives may have become out of control, and we need to address the primary issue. However, many people experience other benefits from treatment. Addiction treatment can be an act of self-care that goes beyond treating just your addiction.
What Does Addiction Treatment Provide?
The purpose of addiction treatment is to resolve drug and alcohol use issues. Many treatment centers focus on addressing the symptoms of addiction rather than the root cause. In other words, we’re focused on putting out the fire first before understanding why the fire occurred in the first place.
However, rehabilitation programs also seek to help you improve your self-esteem and self-worth. We can focus on developing life skills, gaining control over addictive patterns, and improving our physical health. Most rehab programs run in 30-day increments; clients are generally encouraged to stay as long as possible, but this decision often depends on your budget, goals, and treatment needs.¹
Clients with more extended stays can move through more acute interventions like detox and assessment into more long-term, recovery-focused support like therapy and aftercare planning.
Stages of Addiction Treatment
Typical stages of treatment may include²:
As the first stage of treatment, detox offers clients medical-grade support to manage the potentially dangerous effects of stopping alcohol and drug use. Detox may or may not include medication-assisted treatment (MAT).
In this step, a team of medical professionals will evaluate your mental and physical health. They’ll develop an individualized treatment plan according to your initial assessment and recovery goals. Assessment allows recovery professionals to build a more targeted plan of treatment.
At the end of treatment, the treatment team and staff work to develop a recovery plan that goes beyond the discharge of the residential stay.
Individual and Group Therapy
Therapists and trained professionals conduct one-on-one therapy sessions with each client to discuss your values, life goals, and personal challenges. Rehab programs usually offer group therapy on various topics such as anger management, trauma, and relapse prevention. Clients can practice the skills they learn in individual sessions with their peers in group sessions.
This balance allows you to build recovery capital by forming solid relationships, building empathy and awareness for others in treatment, and connecting with recovery professionals. We can learn a lot about ourselves by connecting with others.
12-Step Programs and Other Support Meetings
Clients can further these connections and deepen recovery skills in support meetings. Groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and SMART Recovery focus on the addiction itself and the root causes and potential hazards for recovery.
Your family system can significantly contribute to the dysfunction that puts you at risk for addiction. You’re more likely to achieve sustained recovery when you heal the family system. Family therapy can teach you how to better communicate with your family members and set boundaries. Family therapy can be a profoundly healing experience, and you can apply the skills you learn in family therapy in your other relationships.
Today, most treatment facilities have dual-diagnosis built into their programs and offer treatments that address mental health and substance use problems.
Roughly eight million Americans classify as dual-diagnosis (with any substance and any disorder). Treatment offers us the opportunity to not only distance ourselves from a substance but to get to the root issues and truly heal. When you give yourself the treatment you need, you’re acting from a place of self-love.
A combination of behavioral therapeutic approaches and other treatments could provide a comprehensive approach to addiction treatment². You are more likely to heal when you have the tools to succeed. With a dual-diagnosis, you can better understand yourself and your needs.
Trauma-informed care helps address the common underlying problems that can lead to addiction. Often, layers of deeply rooted trauma can impact the quality of your life and put you at greater risk for addiction.
Trauma is complex. We all experience trauma differently, so it makes sense that we’ll need different tools to get to the heart of the problem and find healing. At All Points North, we incorporate trauma therapy as part of our treatment approach in a few ways, including:
- Trauma process groups and individual therapy
- Working on codependency and other issues
- Family therapy and mindfulness-based interventions
- Experiential and environmental therapy
Beyond Addiction: Treatment as Self-Care
Professional treatment can allow you to learn skills that indirectly contribute to your healing process by encouraging a greater sense of self-awareness and personal growth. In recovery, you’ll develop healthier coping mechanisms and learn to take care of yourself.
Below are some of the various techniques you’ll learn in treatment that go beyond treating addiction.
Effective Communication and Boundary Setting
You’ll meet other individuals with similar life experiences in a treatment setting. While this may be triggering, it’s a new opportunity for you to communicate your needs and set firm boundaries. These skills will benefit you long after treatment, and you’ll be able to take them into other relationships, whether they’re romantic, platonic, familial, or professional.
Building Healthy Relationships
If you have been using substances for some time, some of your friendships may be linked to substance use. These relationships center around drug and alcohol use. They are usually not healthy for you once you decide to get sober, and you may need to distance yourself and find new friends that can support you in your recovery.
Early recovery is a sensitive and vulnerable time, and you’ll need to be able to lean on people who will support your efforts. We cannot recover in isolation – we need community to heal. Meaningful relationships can be a colossal recovery asset⁴. You can handle stress in difficult times when you have a robust support system.
Healthy relationships are reciprocal, not based on self-interest; they nurture and feed your soul, which is vital in recovery. Here are some ways to build a healthy support network⁴ ⁵:
- Attend regular support groups like AA, NA, SMART Recovery (in-person or online)
- Connect with others in recovery and nurture those relationships
- Work with a therapist, counselor, or recovery coach
- Encourage your friends and family to familiarize themselves with recovery and how to best support you
- Engage in healthy activities that support a life centered around recovery and find ways to have sober fun
- Get involved in service work or philanthropic efforts in your community
- Research meet-up groups with like-minded individuals who share your interests and hobbies
Treatment is an excellent opportunity to practice building trust in yourself and others. A therapist can help you understand your addictive behavior, unlearn maladaptive patterns, get to the root causes, and provide a safe, non-judgmental space to heal.
There are other opportunities to build trust in treatment; in group sessions, you’ll meet other people who share their stories with vulnerability and encourage you to do the same. Vulnerability, trust, and mutual support are the perfect foundation for lifelong friendships.
Stress Management Skills
Without healthy coping mechanisms in place, it can be extremely tempting to revert to the habits and behaviors that contributed to addiction. In treatment, you’ll learn a variety of healthy coping mechanisms that support your recovery.
Some treatment centers offer various mindfulness exercises as part of their programs, such as yoga, meditation, breathwork, acupuncture, and more. Learning to manage your stress without reverting to old coping mechanisms is a cornerstone of your recovery. These strategies will be crucial as you take on more responsibility in life.
Financial Management Skills
Let’s face it: addiction can get expensive. Many people may struggle to manage their money in active addiction, and if you’ve never learned those skills, money management may seem daunting in recovery.
Some programs involve a review of your financial inventory so that you can have a better awareness of blind areas when it comes to money mismanagement. It can often be shocking to realize how much money went down the drain during addiction. This isn’t an exercise to guilt or shame you but rather to learn how to improve, value, and budget your money. This is a stepping stone to becoming responsible and financially self-sufficient.
The Ripple Effect of Treatment
We often only think of the immediate reason for entering treatment, which is recovering from drug and alcohol misuse issues. However, beyond your initial stay and the primary reason for entering treatment, you may be pleasantly surprised with what else you get out of this experience.
Self-care is essential, and finding the time for yourself in the chaos of your day-to-day life isn’t always easy. We all need to focus on ourselves from time to time, take a moment to reevaluate where we need help, and then get the support we need – prioritizing yourself isn’t selfish. It’s an act of self-love.
If you are thinking of entering treatment or have already decided, you may find that you leave with a handful of bonus skills. To find out what you can get from treatment at All Points North, reach out to us through our or by calling 855-510-4585. We’re here to help you develop a foundation for true healing so that you can complete treatment and find long-lasting recovery.
- Greenfield, Shelly F et al. “Treatment for substance use disorders in a privately insured population under managed care: costs and services use.” Journal of substance abuse treatment vol. 27,4 (2004): 265-75. doi:10.1016/j.jsat.2004.07.002
- NIDA. “Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction DrugFacts.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 17 Jan. 2019, https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/treatment-approaches-drug-addiction Accessed 23 Feb. 2022.
- “Substance Use Disorders.” NAMI, May 2020, https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Common-with-Mental-Illness/Substance-Use-Disorders.
- Laudet, Alexandre B et al. “The Role of Social Supports, Spirituality, Religiousness, Life Meaning and Affiliation with 12-Step Fellowships in Quality of Life Satisfaction Among Individuals in Recovery from Alcohol and Drug Problems.” Alcoholism treatment quarterly vol. 24,1-2 (2006): 33-73. doi:10.1300/J020v24n01_04
- “Recovery and Recovery Support.” SAMHSA, 23 Apr. 2020, https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/recovery.
Reviewed by Emmeline Massey MSW, LSW