Aug 09, 2013
One of the main reasons we created a specialized center for opiate dependency that has such a high rate of success, is because we integrate psychotherapy into our medical detoxification and/ or rapid detox programs in some way. Using this type of therapy helps us and each of our patients gain a clearer understanding of what led to a dependency to opiates in the first place, giving them a better chance of living an opiate-free life once and for all.
There are so many different motives for why people start taking and can’t stop using opiates. Some patients are simply in a stage of life that feels overwhelming or difficult to navigate. For others, the feeling of helplessness is driven by loss or due to physical pain and limitations imposed by the pain. There are many individuals who also have untreated or undiagnosed anxiety or depression. What’s important to remember is that in all cases, the ability to identify and understand the feeling of being “stuck” and how this feeling is often the core driving force for substance abuse, which allows for a new process of healing to begin. This is where psychotherapy comes in, and why it has the power to successfully empower patients to overcome opiate dependency.
We use individual psychotherapy as a tool to uncover the internal and external tensions that drive any unwanted behaviors, as well as understanding the underlying needs that may be holding someone back from achieving sobriety. For example, an individual may have the feeling of “being stuck,” which comes from an extremely busy and responsibility-driven life. On the outside, their lives may appear wonderful, but on the inside there is a buildup of extreme stress and tension. This accumulated stress often goes unrecognized or is minimized until there is a disruptive event, like an injury or a type of fatigue. In this situation, the chemical dependency acts as a coping mechanism so that the individual can temporarily feel better while maintaining their responsibilities. The coping mechanism or chemical may help temporarily, but eventually causes its own problems and dangers while leaving the underlying needs (stress and tension) unmet and unrecognized.
Also, since opiates create a sense of well-being, the pattern of taking these drugs to cope is often repeated. Over time, physical tolerance increases, leading to even greater substance use accompanied by physical and emotional dependency to the drugs. This progression of abuse often creates a feeling of helplessness because the body goes through a continuous cycle of needing to fend off constant states of physical withdrawal. At this point, even if the individual has a desire to stop this painful cycle, the substance use is often continued until there is a critical moment where the cycle is no longer sustainable. Patients in this situation often carry a sense of guilt and shame that they cannot stop the cycle of abuse, which makes the individual feel like they have less of a right to seek treatment.
Usually in order for anyone to sustain sobriety, we believe it is critical they truly understand the factors that weaken their commitment to staying sober, as well as the factors that help them continue to live an opiate-free life. The psychotherapy helps patients gain a level of self-awareness and understanding, which is essential to the process of recovery. In fact, we now offer a special program at Domus Retreat, which helps patients identify and address real world triggers to ensure their sobriety. Through this program, patients are able to return a month or two after they complete their treatment and aftercare. By returning to their homes, jobs and personal lives, patients can assess any triggers in their day-to-day lives that may cause a relapse then return for a few days to address these issues through psychotherapy and learn how to cope without resorting to substance abuse.
People are much more likely to maintain their commitments when they believe in their importance and have a clear awareness of what drives their behaviors. Through psychotherapy and our medical detoxification we are able to recognize these factors and their correlation to help patients stop using opiates once and for all.