What Works? 30-Day Program or 12-Month Discipleship Program?
When looking for a drug or alcohol treatment program, many people struggle with finding the right one for their needs. There are so many options available, and every treatment provider claims that their program is the one that works. Many people get tricked into thinking that a quick 30 day program can help them recover without missing a beat, and others think that as long as the problem incorporates the 12-steps, it will be successful. However, a truly effective drug and alcohol treatment program will help the client achieve holistic or complete healing of the body, mind, and spirit, and this will often take time and a variety of resources to accomplish.
What is the basis for an effective addiction treatment program? Lighthouse Network’s Dr. Karl Benzio talks about three different spheres that must be addressed by the treatment program in order to be successful and provide lasting recovery.
Spiritual Depth. First and foremost, the individual in recovery must acknowledge the effect addiction has on his or her spiritual self. Those that suffer from drug and alcohol addiction often struggle with a great deal of guilt, shame, and other uncertainty about where they stand before God. They long for spiritual healing and the peace that it can bring. But most people don’t know where to look for this kind of healing, but we know it isn’t in a bottle or come from a drug dealer. As Dr. Benzio states, “An effective Christian rehab program will allow God to be recognized and engaged with, then His teachings will be brought into the treatment so people can see the big picture and have perspective, skills, purpose, meaning, value, forgiveness, and peace.”Christian treatment programs make use of a time-tested instruction manual, the Bible (Best Instruction Book for Living Everyday), which has been achieving life-transforming results for thousands of years. A Christian program also has the benefit of pointing to the most perfect role model there is, Jesus Christ, who shows us how to live for others and glorify God. Through Bible study, prayer, and fellowship with others, Christian treatment programs give clients the tools to thrive in this lifetime as well as in eternity with God.
Having this Christian component allows the treatment to not just look at the addictive behavior, but more importantly, gets at the core heart issues leading to the addictive behavior. This leads us to the second major aspect for good addiction treatment, psychological depth.
Psychological Depth. The second component to recovery is the emotional or psychological aspect of the individual. Addiction often occurs because of a person’s mismanagement of the stress and difficulties of life. Once a person begins to rely on substances to meet their psychological needs, it becomes very hard to let go. During drug and alcohol rehab, it is imperative to address the contributing factors behind the addiction, the reasons it continues, and the triggers that threaten relapse after recovery.
According to Dr. Benzio, in order to heal the mind, an effective addiction treatment program will “be able to look at the core stressors, lies, baggage, strongholds, internal tapes, or personal narrative that is hindering a person’s maturity and movement forward. Once these are identified and addressed, and healthier coping mechanisms are learned, the substance won’t be needed and will lose its power over the healthy person.” Through therapy sessions, counseling, and other methods, the person will learn skills to apply to their real-life situations in order to manage life better.
Medical Depth. The final component to recovery, but certainly not the least important, is the physical aspect. Addiction is a disease that affects the body and changes the brain’s chemistry. It is important to allow for physical healing and rejuvenation during drug and alcohol treatment. The first step is detox, during which time the person withdraws from their substance and allows the toxins to get out of the brain so the brain can heal and rewire. A treatment program must provide safe detox, supervised by a medical team when necessary. The program must also replenish the body with the nutrients, rest/sleep, and exercise it needs to heal from the physical stress substances and an addictive lifestyle put on it.
Dr. Benzio says that the physical aspect to a drug and alcohol treatment program must “allow a safe detox, address any underlying medical problems from the addiction, and diagnose and treat any psychiatric issues leading to or coming from the addiction behavior. In order for your brain to work well and make good decisions, safely get rid of toxins and get it the right rest, nutrients and oxygen that a healthy body and lifestyle can provide.”
The Variable of Time is Important
A final component to treatment is time. The holistic healing process takes time, and should not be rushed. Time is often a factor that is manipulated to accommodate the treatment facility’s goals, insurance’s limitations, or the individual’s schedule. However, it takes time to allow the brain to heal and start to feel and think the way God designed us to. It takes time to unlearn old habits and both learn and practice new spiritual and psychological skills for successful life management. During the first few weeks of rehab the addict gets some good intellectual information, but knowing isn’t enough. Time to practice, like we do with a sport, musical instrument, or biology lab, allows us to really learn the skills and, through repetition, get better at them to win this battle.
Finding the Right Program for the Individual
So which program works? It all depends on the individual and his or her needs, but for the best results, the program should be flexible in length, comprehensive in programming, and designed specifically for the individual.
A 30 day program might not have time to address all three areas of recovery, and puts limitations on the time to recover. Rarely are all three spheres addressed with significant depth in just 30 days. Many of these programs incorporate a few group sessions or superficial acknowledgment only: not enough depth for real healing.
A 12-step program combines some spiritual truths and psychological skills, but is meant to be an outpatient peer-led support group, not an intensive residential treatment program. For this reason, a 12-step program might not be complete enough to get at the core stressors which precipitate and accentuate addictive dysfunction and spirals.
Combining Options for the Best Recovery
We have found the best treatment process usually involves a few options put together to use the strengths of each. First, a traditional 30-day medical model residential program, which has medical detox and Christian programming, is the ideal first step if a person has the insurance or finances for it. Then, once they’ve had the urgent medical components taken care of, they must receive a good spiritual foundation to connect with God’s power and peace, and a good psychological foundation to get to the core issues.
If you are able to stay in treatment longer, going to a 2-12 month extended care discipleship and/or treatment program to continue to allow the body to heal, build on that psycho-spiritual foundation, then practice psychologically sound Bible-based life management skills would be ideal.
These programs teach the Bible, help you apply it, practice your life and relationship skills, and help you develop vocational skills, get your GED, or even find a paying job while you are there to get your self-confidence and independence back on track. The programs can range from medical Christian subacute treatment programs which insurances such as Medicare and PPO’s will cover, to inexpensive Christian residential discipleship programs.
Remember, time is needed to heal and practice the skills you are learning. The more time in supervised situations, keeping you from your addiction and getting coaching to grow in your skills, the more likely you are to find the peace and fulfillment you are thirsting for.
When you dial 1-877-562-2565, you are connected with a trained Lighthouse Network Care Guide who will listen to your story, answer your questions, and find your best treatment options available.
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