What Rehab Centers are Lacking
Opiate rehabilitation lacks the ongoing support needed to keep a person from relapsing in the future. Please do not misunderstand. We are in no way ripping on ‘rehab centers’ or claiming that they are doing something wrong. Rehab plays a major role in the ‘beating addiction’ process. As a matter of fact, rehab is mandatory to get the ball rolling when it comes to getting clean. Everyone must start the process by checking into the best local rehab center that they can find.
Based on years of research and personal experience we have come to the realization that the rehab element of the beating addiction process lacks one major goal. Once a patient successfully detoxes and is discharged from the rehab center hospital they are often left on their own to recover in the future. This is when many opiate users relapse. Obviously, an opiate addict must start with rehab. Drug users simply cannot taper off the drug and go through withdrawal on their own. They can try and many people do (I certainly did), but failure is imminent. The opiate chemical is too strong and powerful to defeat by yourself. These people need ongoing support and detox medication properly dispensed by a licensed, professional therapist or Doctor.
After taking opiate drugs for a long period of time, your body becomes dependent on this drug. It craves the drug mentally and physically. Because of the massive power that the opiate substance has physically on the human body it makes it nearly impossible to succeed in weaning-off or detoxing without any help from professionals. Believe me, I have tried it many times. The reason is that the opiate drug (heroin or prescription pain medications) replaces chemicals in your body and brain that were suppose to be naturally producing the good chemicals that you need to function each day and feel normal. When a person takes opiates for a long period of time, the body becomes dependent on the opiate as if its air to breathe or food to nourish. Upon stopping opiate consumption ‘cold turkey’ the body goes absolutely crazy with its need for this chemical. Opiates are unlike any other drug because of how dependent the body becomes physically. In addition, opiates have a similar and daunting mental repercussion when it comes to addiction and dependency. Because opiates cause BOTH mental and physical bodily dependency, its like a double-whammy when it comes to weaning off or stopping the drug. All chronic pain patients who have been prescribed opiate pain medications, must taper off this drug just like anyone else. Doctors provide strict procedures on how a patient is suppose to taper slowly off the opiate. This goes to show just how powerful and changing opiate chemicals can be on the human body
This also supports the fact that people simply cannot wean off opiates themselves and never look back. You just cannot do it. Many people try every day or they are forced to try each day when they run out of their opiate drugs. But, 95% of the time, because the withdrawal of opiate is so horrific, they end up relapsing just to make the withdrawal feelings STOP. Its understandable that people would do this. If you know anything about opiate or “H” withdrawal, then you know how terrible this ‘sickness is’.
See our page on Opiate Withdrawal, but in a nutshell here is a personal description of what it is like to go through opiate withdrawal (after stopping cold-turkey without the help of any medication or professionals):
- Within about 8 hours of stopping opiates (whether this be heroin, pain pills, or opiate prescriptions like Fentanyl/Opana), you cannot sleep because your body is physically craving the drug. Its as if you have taken ‘oxygen or air’ way from your body, therefore it cringes with the dire need for the substance.
- The body starts to quiver and shake with electric feelings zapping through your muscles non-stop. The only way to reduce this horrible feeling is to get up and move around and stretch your muscles. This does NOT stop this particular feeling, but it slows it down or distracts your mind from feeling it.
- RLS- Restless Leg —> this is similar to the bullet above since it concerns the muscles and how they clinch and feel like electric bugs are crawling up your arms and legs and it never stops.
- Sleep is non-existent during the first 5+ days of withdrawal (since stopping opiates). Without sleep, the body simply does not function well. Because of all the feelings of withdrawal rolled into one ghastly sickness…it is irresolvable to obtain sleep. This causes all the withdrawal symptoms to be magnified.
- Some compare withdrawal to the flu. These people are usually nurses who have no idea what withdrawal is really like. I agree that withdrawal has similar symptoms to the flu, however withdrawal is more like 50X (50-75 times) worse than the normal flu. This is no exaggeration. The flu is a ‘walk in the park’ compared to opiate withdrawal.
- There are different levels of withdrawal depending on how long the person has been taking opiates and at what dosage they have been consuming. Obviously the longer a person takes the drug and the stronger it is, the more severe the withdrawal will be. And, the longer and harder it will be to successfully recover.
- The body goes through periods of chills and hot sweats. The room could be 100 degrees and your body will be shivering with goose pimples unable to warm up. On the flip-side, soon thereafter the chills end, your body will begin sweating severely. You cannot cool down. This happens for days at a time, 24 hours a day and contributes to why one cannot find peace or sleep.
- Bodily aches consume the person 24 hours a day for up to many weeks. You feel a weakness in your legs and entire body making it difficult to even stand up and walk-around. I remember not being able to get up out of bed for days at a time. My legs were ‘jelloee’ and shaking with weakness.
- Fatigue sets in from the beginning. This fatigue is BOTH mental and physical. The worse part is that it is so severe that you do not think it is ever going to end. Time stands still during this period of time.
- Mentally—> the biggest issue of withdrawal is that you cannot get the feelings off your mind. Its all you can focus on because you are trying to survive and get through it. No end in site since time stands still. The minutes and hours that you are watching are the slowest they could possibly be. There are no distractions away from the feelings of withdrawal…they totally dominate your body, mind and soul. You can think of nothing else other than how crappy bad you feel. You can try to watch a movie or read a book or do anything,.. but you are constantly stopped in your tracks (the tracks of trying to distract your mind from this terrible sickness feeling). Your mind comes right back to how bad you feel and if its ever going to end.
- No appetite whatsoever. You cannot eat during withdrawal simply because your body is craving the opiate drug far more than it thinks it needs food. The worse thing an addict going through withdrawal can do is not eat or drink fluids. This compounds the entire withdrawal experience and makes everything worse. The person must force themself to drink water and eat healthy food even though zero appetite exist. If you fail to drink enough water during withdrawal you will become dehydrated and eventually end up on the ER. Again, this is why its best for people to check into a reputable rehab center and allow professionals to monitor you. DO NOT TRY WITHDRAWAL AT HOME.
*Note: We provide resources and products on our other pages designed to help people ease their withdrawal. We recommend healthy shakes to drink as well as opiate withdrawal OTC supplements. We conveniently provide you the links on our pages to purchase these supplements and shakes. They are tested and true, and we have taken these items ourselves before deciding to recommend them to you. They are simply to help you or your loved one. No pressure and we are not a retail site.
It would be easy to continue describing what withdrawal is like, but we believe you get the picture. Plus, our other pages go more into detail. The main point of this Post is to discuss what we believe the rehab portion of addiction recovery is lacking. To make this known to you, so that you can be educated and use this information to make decisions and improve your chances of a successful, lasting recovery for life.
The greatest ‘lack’ when it comes to rehabilitation is that once you leave the rehab center, you are left on your own. There does not seem to be any on-going support thereafter. Now, this is not exactly true. If you were prescribed detox medications like Suboxone or Vivitrol during rehab, and you plan to remain on these medications (which most people do after completing rehab), then you are going to be required to see a Doctor regularly in order to obtain these prescriptions. This could last years. In my case, I did see a Doctor who was prescribing me Suboxone (the better drug, Vivitrol was not around yet when I was in rehab 6 years ago). I was on Suboxone for several years because the Doctor lady and I believed that Suboxone was providing me with an additional benefit…which was pain relief. My Doctor explained that the Suboxone medication “will sit on the opiate receptor” and act similar to other pain medications. This was in fact true, it was providing me pain relief. I was in a very difficult situation because I had been experiencing physical chronic pain from 6 open reconstructive shoulder and neck surgeries to remove tumors (called Neuromas). I will not get into details in this Post, because I go into full detail in other Pages/Posts on this site. Suboxone was not designed to treat chronic pain. It was solely created as a craving reduction drug for opiate addicts. Suboxone works to satisfy your opiate receptors without giving you any feelings of euphoria like heroin or pain meds do. Its somewhat working in the back-side of your brain to prevent you from relapsing. It DOES work and it is effective. But, it is also physically addictive. You dont really feel anything while taking Suboxone, therefore it is not mentally addictive, however your body does become dependent on Suboxone just like any other opiate drug. Some people argue that they are replacing one drug with another by taking Suboxone or Vivitrol. I would disagree. By taking Suboxone you are drastically reducing the chances that you might relapse. Isn’t this the purpose of detox and rehab anyway? People take medications for all purposes, so when it comes to opiate addiction….it certainly makes the most sense to take a medication that is going to help the patient stay clean.
The ‘support’ that a patient receives while going to their regular Doctor appointments to pick up their Suboxone or Vivitrol prescription is NOT the kind of recovery support the person needs. This type of Doctor mainly exists to be able to prescribe you the medication. They are not there to educate you, give you addiction therapy and help you stay clean in the big-picture of recovery. Their main goal is to take notes, ask a few questions and hand you another script so that you can stay on the addiction craving medication. Therefore, once you detox and leave rehab, you might be seeing a Doctor who is licensed to prescribe you addiction medication, however you are still stuck on your own to recover in the long-term.
Rehabilitation does serve a very important purpose. Its main goal is to have you detox and make it through the withdrawal period. You might be in rehab for 5 weeks up to 120 days (out patient) depending on your insurance, but the main goal was to detox you. Once you have detoxed and appear to be ‘in recovery’ from the perspective of the therapists at the rehab center, they discharge you. You are then on your own to continue recovering. The detox stage is hard enough, which might be why the rehab center focuses its energy on getting patients past this part of their recovery process. Statistics show us that 90% of all patients who enter rehab relapse during the first week. This goes to support everything that we have been mentioning above. The detox portion of your recovery is so challenging that most people fail. This is why rehab centers are working to get their patients through detox without relapsing because they know that 9 out of 10 patients that come to them are going to fail in the first week. I suppose that rehab centers believe that if they can succeed in getting a patient to detox and not relapse during the first 5 weeks that they are in rehab,…then this is a success for the center. And, in many cases it is a success. However, detox is NOT the most important stage in beating addiction overall. The most important part of the rehab process is the RECOVERY period. The reason why is that if you fail at recovery, you are back to square one. What good was detoxing and rehab if you are going to relapse in 12 months after being discharged from the rehab center. WHY doesnt rehab centers provide long-term recovery support? Many people stay clean for 6 months or longer, but then an event in their life causes them to go back to heroin or pills. This happens all the time! Something must be done about it and we are here to provide as much awareness as possible for recovering addicts.
We propose that rehab centers continue to do what they do. Get people successfully detoxed OFF the opiates. But, in addition to this task, rehab centers should require and encourage the recovering addict to continue into another recovery phase with their assistance. This is what we mean by this:
- After detox is complete and the addict has been clean for a certain number of weeks/months, the rehab center SHOULD NOT discharge them as if its over and complete. Because of insurance limits, etc. perhaps the rehab center must technically discharge the patient, but perhaps the patient is NOT finished at this point with ‘traditional rehab’.
- Do not tell the addict patient that they are discharged and their rehab stint is complete (this is what they do today). Instead, coach the patient to enter into the ‘recovery stage’. This is not just what we call the recovery time period. This would actually be a specific program as part of the rehab process that gives on-going support and education for as long as needed.
- This program would be another type of ‘rehab’ process AFTER the traditional detox rehab is complete. Current rehab centers having nothing like this today to our knowledge.
- This additional Recovery Program would be designed to educate the addict about how to successfully RECOVER for the rest of their life. Here are some of the strategies to be taught during this Recovery Program that we propose should be taking place within all traditional rehab centers today:
A.) Teach the patient about their brains chemicals called Neuro-transmitters. These are the key to a long-term successful recovery and I am a living example of this. See our Page on Neuro-Transmitter chemicals where we go into detail. The idea is that the patient can reverse the temporary imbalance that was caused while using opiates.
B.) Life After Recovery: Many addicts cannot visualize how they are going to get by without their opiate drugs. They are so use to living on opiates from day -to-day, that being clean becomes a huge change in their life. Life seems boring without opiates. Life is not as appealing to an addict when you remove the excitement of getting high, buying drugs, going through withdrawal until they score their next hookup of drugs. Teach these patients how to get past this feeling of boredom while recovering and properly adjust (Stay busy, distract your mind with productive activities)./
C.) During this program phase, Opportunities would be presented to the addict patients. Recovering addicts are very special people. Anyone who can beat their opiate addiction, has more character and discipline than most others. I stand by this comment and I have recognized characteristics and qualities in addicts who have successfully recovered that most other ‘normal’ people simply do not have. Recovering and beating an addiction such as heroin or pain pills…changes a person. It makes them stronger and motivated. They simply need to be reminded of this and taught how to apply themselves and use their qualities to better themselves and the world around them. I am living proof that this is the case. I successfully recovered from a decade long opiate habit. My addiction first started when I went from being dependent on opiate pain medications (Fentanyl) to a full-size addict. It has taken many years for me to recover, but I have never relapsed and I never will. Thank God I had good support and Doctors who educated me about my body and brain. What happened for me, is what I am proposing should happen for all other recoveing addicts by introducing this Recovery Phase into the traditional detox rehab stage. For me it involved a plan for recovery that included diet, exercise and an education on my brains chemicals such as Dopamine and Seretonin. My primary care Doctor who is also a friend taught me how I could balance my brains chemicals which became out of whack while I was abusing Fentanyl. It worked and now I am sharing my success with as many people as I can. I ask you to please SHARE my site and posts so that I reach more people.
D.) Not Just Talk, But Action—> The Recovery Program phase should include providing addicts patients with various Opportunities which can propel them into a life of goodness, production and prosperity. This is what happened for me. I chose to use the abilities and qualities that I gained while beating my opiate addiction to start a small business and thrive. Using the same motivation and determination that I needed to beat my addiction, I founded several businesses and got into real estate investing. If I can do this, any other recovering addict can do so as well.
E.) Genetic history is so important when it comes to understanding why a person becomes addicted and why other do not. Patients need to be taught in detail about genetics and given tools to analyze their own family genetic history. Knowing about genetics creates awareness not only for the recovering addict, but also for all those young people out there who are tempted to experiment with heroin or take pain pills. Perhaps they think twice before taking that heroin if they were previously taught about the genetics of their family and if addiction or alcoholism exists.
Because I know exactly what it is like to be an opiate addict and what it takes to beat this addiction, I want to help as many others as I can. This is why I created this blog/site and other social media organizations. I want to make a difference and use my past experiences to help others going through similar situations. If I do not use my experience to help others, then everything that I went through would be for nothing. It would be a complete waste of my time and energy for no purpose at all. Sure, I wish that NONE of it would have happened. I was miserable for over 10 years and did not want to live any longer. I was not suicidal in the mental sense (clinically depressed) because I have always been a positive person in general (cut half full, not cup half empty). But, the physical pain of my injury, all the reconstructive painful surgeries, over 500 days of physical therapy which was just as painful, all the pain medications that I was continually prescribed,…all led me down a path to where I wanted the road to end. I wanted to put myself out of the pain and misery. I was tired and wanted it all to end. The physical pain which was chronic every day is enough for any person to have to deal with. Thrown opiate addiction on top of this pain problem and life becomes impossible. It did for me. Both nearly destroyed my life, finances and marriage. Thank God, I fell back on my roots. I called out to God and prayed for help as much as I could. I gave myself fully to God and opened my heart. This was my answer and this is exactly what saved my life. God is real and my goal is not to shove this down peoples throats or preach. My goal is simply to share my story and a person can think what they want. If I can help just one person, then my entire horrific experience of pain and addiction was all worth while to me.