What is long term alcohol rehabilitation?
Long term alcohol rehabilitation is considered to be any stay in an alcohol rehab centre lasting 3 months or longer. The level of structured care is intensive, and suitable to individuals who require access to support and therapies over a longer period of time. Remember, alcoholism is a chronic condition, and stopping drinking is only the first step in recovery.
Long term alcohol rehab provides the individual with a safe environment in which to slowly rebuild their lives and sustain their recovery over a period of months, whilst building self-esteem and developing the tools to stay sober after rehab. Most rehab clinics will offer set programme durations, such as 1 month, 3 month or 6-month programmes, although these are often flexible to suit the needs of the individual. Other rehabs will only allow a client to graduate when they are ready to do so, and offer rehab programmes lasting up to a year.
Here at the Providence Projects, we hear from hundreds of individuals who are wondering how long they or a loved one need to go rehab for. Will a month be enough? Is 6 months too long? If you’re reading this and wondering ‘how long is long enough’ in a treatment centre, please remember that you’re dealing with alcoholism: a serious and progressive illness. In the same way that you don’t become an alcoholic overnight, the recovery process won’t happen overnight either. It takes time for a person’s addiction to develop, and to progress to a point where they need to do something about it or seek professional help.
That’s why we place such emphasis on taking a long-term view of alcohol rehabilitation and recovery. Time is the greatest healer, but time takes time. The process is going to be gradual, and to stand the best chance of ongoing recovery it’s essential to give yourself enough time and space to heal from your addiction, and to address the underlying issues that motivated your alcoholism. Remember, going to alcohol rehab is an investment in yourself and in your future. Whilst the process won’t be rapid, things can and will get better for you. Recovery is possible and you can start yours today.
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Challenges in Recovery
Alcohol is one of the most powerful drugs there is. In the moment, it offers the individual an immediate sense of relief, comfort and release. Alcohol serves to numb and mask difficult emotions, and provides an emotional crutch to cope with life’s difficulties. It’s no wonder then, that when the alcoholic first gets sober, they are faced with a whole host of confusing and scary feelings, that they experience as if for the first time.
In recovery, the saying goes: “The good news is you get your feelings back. The bad news is you get your feelings back.” The newly sober alcoholic is much like a newborn infant, learning to walk for the first time. They may fall over a couple of times at first, but slowly and gradually they will get stronger and more skilled, until being sober becomes second nature.
Alcohol rehab is not a quick fix, and the journey of recovery is lifelong. Life continues when you get sober, and challenges will inevitably present themselves for both the recovering addict, as well as for their loved ones and family. Family members often feel a great sense of relief that their loved one has completed rehab and is making the necessary positive changes to their life. But this is often coupled with fear: Will they be the same person sober? How will the family dynamics change? What boundaries need to be put in place now the person is home from rehab? These fears will apply to the recovering alcoholic too, as they readjust to normal life and independent living, outside of the safety, structure and routine of a rehab environment. They will need to be prepared to deal with triggers and high-risk situations, and to have a strong relapse prevention plan in place for their return home and to their old drinking environments.
Risk of relapse with alcohol addiction
Arguably, the greatest fear that both families and the alcoholic will have, is the risk of relapse. Addiction is undeniably a disease of relapse. Studies have shown that between 40% and 60% of addicts who have sought treatment will relapse within their first year of recovery. After 5 years, the chance of relapse reduces to 15%. Here at the Providence Projects, one of the most common questions we are asked is whether the risk of relapse diminishes over time or whether it poses an ongoing threat throughout a person’s recovery. Can you be ‘free’ of your addiction following a certain number of years in sobriety?
The truth is, a recovering alcoholic or addict will always be in recovery. Just because you have a few years of recovery under your belt makes you no more immune to relapse than someone with 30 days sobriety. Unfortunately, people do relapse even after many years, and there is not a period of time after which you are considered ‘cured.’ There is no guarantee that a recovering alcoholic who is sober today will be sober tomorrow, hence the term ‘Just for Today’: because today is all any of us have.
While relapse is most common during the first year of recovery, people with years of sobriety can easily slip back into self-destructive drinking or drug use. Unfortunately, relapse can be fatal, as in the case of Phillip Seymour Hoffman. In 2014, the Academy Award-winning actor was found dead in New York, following an overdose on heroin, cocaine, benzodiazepines and amphetamines. His relapse followed 23 years of sobriety.
At our private rehab clinic in Bournemouth, we understand the importance of mitigating the risk of relapse as much as possible. That’s why we designed a dedicated relapse prevention programme as part of our treatment programme, and why we offer family meetings: so all members of the family unit are on the same page about the boundaries needed when their loved one comes home.
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Our approach to long-term alcohol rehab
Our full alcohol rehab programme at the Providence Projects lasts for 3 months, although our 28-day programme is also very popular. We also provide an aftercare programme and sober management service which is designed to help the individual adjust to normal life, whilst retaining the support from the rehab centre. Aftercare offers clients support with the transition from the safety bubble of the rehab environment to independent living, and takes place three mornings a week. Having a solid and clear aftercare plan is crucial, as this is a vulnerable time for individuals.
It’s important to be disciplined with your recovery programme, and to have a weekly structure with meetings in place, so as to avoid potentially high-risk situations. Our aftercare programme is available for up to 3 months, although provisions can be made to suit the individual if they feel they need more time. The longer programme might be suited to those with a history of relapse in addiction, other underlying mental health problems, or those who just feel they need a bit of extra time.
Thinking about the future
Having a focus for the future as you complete rehab treatment and return home will be paramount. The hardest thing for many alcoholics and addicts is not stopping using or drinking, it is staying stopped. Finding your purpose and having a structure will be a great help. The nature of addiction means it becomes the centre of your life, and everything else diminishes in significance.
That’s why it’s essential to find something to replace your addiction which will help you feel fulfilled. This could be getting involved in a new hobby or team sport, finding a part-time job, or going back to college to study something you’re passionate about. Volunteering and helping others can be really beneficial too: by focussing your efforts on something outside of yourself, you are distracted from your own thoughts, worries and insecurities. It is also a huge boost to your self-esteem.
Navigating sobriety is not for that faint-hearted, but it is so worth it. Above all, we want you to know that you can recover from alcoholism. Relapse doesn’t have to be part of your story. It probably feels impossible now, the thought of living a life without alcohol by your side. But the millions of people who have recovered from this disease are your evidence otherwise.
Recovering from addiction requires much honesty and courage on your part, to admit you have a problem and to seek help. But once you take that leap of faith, and step into the unknown, the whole world opens up to you again. By getting sober you get your freedom back. Your freedom to choose what you want your life to look like and who you want to be. You start to feel hope again, excitement at the possibility of the future and all the wonderful things you are yet to experience and enjoy. By getting sober you realise life is still worth living.
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Taking the first step
Long term alcohol rehabilitation and recovery begins with taking that first step, admitting to yourself and to someone you trust that you have a problem and need help. Remember, alcoholism is an illness and a mental health disorder, not a moral failing or weakness. We have seen first-hand how powerful this disease is, but we also know that with the right support and treatment, it is possible to live a happy and fulfilled life, drug and alcohol-free.
Sadly, alcoholism is a growing epidemic, with the number of people affected increasing year on year. Limited resources and a lack of government funding mean that less and less people are accessing the help they need. We want to help. You don’t need to suffer on your own anymore.
Our range of alcohol rehab programmes are designed to help you find a way out of the vicious cycle of alcoholism. If you would like more information about a stay at our private rehab clinic in Bournemouth, then please give us a call today on 0800 955 0945, or fill out our quick and easy contact form. Our team of expert addiction counsellors are on hand to talk you through your options and help you take that first, important step towards your recovery and the start of a better life.