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As a society, we’re currently at the grips of global addiction and mental health crises. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, approximately 21.6 million American adults battled substance use disorder in 2019. This statistic is a stark reminder of the urgency required to address this issue and how crucial rehab services are to our well-being.

Rehab, or rehabilitation, is primarily meant to help individuals struggling with substance abuse disorders like drug addiction and alcoholism regain control over their lives.

The Need for Rehab

Substance abuse disorder is not a character flaw — it’s a disease affecting brain function and behavior.

Group of Gen Z individuals enjoying a beer at bar, pondering about their drinking habits

A candid capture of the Gen Z demographic at a bar, contemplating their relationship with alcohol.

Substance abuse disorder is not a character flaw — it’s a disease affecting brain function and behavior. Each person’s path into addiction varies: some people experiment out of curiosity, others due to peer pressure or an attempt to cope with stress, anxiety, or depression. Regardless of how people get there, rehabilitation is integral in guiding them toward sobriety and health.

Detoxification: A Vital First Step

Medical detoxification (detox) is often needed as the first step in treating substance abuse disorders. When people habitually consume drugs such as opioids or alcohol, it changes their brain chemistry over time. When these substances are suddenly discontinued during withdrawal, the body reacts violently. Detox is the process used to eliminate these substances from a system under medical supervision safely — it’s a crucial step that manages uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

In particular, detox from substances like opiates, alcohol, and benzodiazepines must be supervised due to the severe health risks involved. Evidence from the World Health Organization shows unsupervised withdrawal from alcohol can lead to seizures and hallucinations, while opioid withdrawals can cause severe discomfort.

Different Levels of Rehabilitation Care

Effective rehab doesn’t follow a one-size-fits-all approach. Programs typically come in different levels to provide comprehensive care that extends sobriety long-term. Here is a quick breakdown:

1. Detoxification: Detox is the initial step to manage acute withdrawal symptoms.

2. Inpatient Residential Rehab: These intensive programs involve residing in the rehab center for a designated period while receiving structured care and treatment.

3. Partial Hospitalization (PHP): PHPs offer similar services to inpatient rehab but allow patients to return home at the end of each day.

4. Outpatient Programs: These serve as a transition from more intensive care and let individuals receive treatment while resuming daily responsibilities such as work or school.

The tailored design of these different levels promotes sustained recovery by gradually helping individuals reintegrate into society with new-found skills and confidence.

Unmasking the Stigma

Despite the prevalence of substance use disorders, seeking help is still stigmatized. The fear of others knowing about their struggle deters many people from accessing rehab services. But it’s vital to remember asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness — conversely, it demonstrates remarkable strength and resilience.

Cultural understanding is also shifting: the American Society of Addiction Medicine now classifies addiction as ” a treatable, chronic medical disease,” not a moral failing. Embracing this paradigm shift can significantly reduce the stigma around seeking help for substance use disorders and other comorbid maladies.

The Overlapping Crisis: Mental Health

Substance abuse and mental health issues often go hand-in-hand. An estimated 9.5 million U.S. adults experienced mental illness and a substance use disorder 2019. This prevalence emphasizes why dual diagnosis treatment — an approach that treats both conditions concurrently — is becoming essential in rehab programs nationwide.

Understanding that substance abuse disorder is intertwined with mental health is another step towards eliminating stigma and reaffirming that reaching out for aid is an act of courage, not weakness.

Rehab is, at its core, about healing and recovery. It’s about providing the vital medical, therapeutic, and emotional support individuals need to recover from addiction: Shattering stigma and fear with understanding and compassion. Most importantly, it amplifies the fundamental truth that seeking help isn’t shameful; it’s empowering.

If you or someone you know is suffering from alcohol or substance abuse, La Jolla Recovery can be a stepping stone to beginning a journey toward sobriety.

By Jace A.

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