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Addiction Treatment

Addiction is a complex disorder adversely affecting physical, mental and social wellbeing.  It therefore requires a comprehensive and integrated treatment approach, overseen by a multidisciplinary team able to address medical issues, psychological issues and withdrawal symptoms, as well as to enhance general wellbeing.

As a chronic condition that leads to significant deterioration in mental and physical health, treatment may well be life-saving. Get in touch with Clinic Les Alpes today if you or your loved one is suffering from substance use disorder or other forms of addiction.

Help to end an all-consuming relationship

Although the core dynamic is much the same, addiction manifests itself in a variety of guises.  While drug addiction is the main culprit when people hear addiction, people may also become addicted to behaviours such as gambling, sex, pornography, shopping or work, the all-consuming, self-perpetuating nature of the relationship with substances such as depressant drugs, stimulants or hallucinogens, or behaviour is what they have in common.  Helping the person first understand and then end that relationship while supporting them to replace it with an alternative, life-enhancing approach to life, is the core task of addiction treatment.

A collaborative approach to treatment (recovery) planning

Initial treatment starts with ensuring the treatment provider has the fullest possible picture on which to base a treatment plan.  The information needed will include all current and previous substance use, and/or behavioural compulsions and their consequences.

It will consider previous addictive disorders, treatments, symptoms of co-existing physical and mental illness and any medications taken for them, as well as social context and details of key relationships.

The addiction treatment program will need to be flexible and adjusted as new perspectives inevitably emerge during treatment.  It will also be tailored to the individual.  Most importantly, forming this treatment program — which should perhaps more appropriately be called a recovery plan — will be a collaborative exercise between patient and treatment team.

Securing life, stabilising health

Addiction poses a risk to life whether directly through overdose of drugs like heroin or prescribed opioids, or due to precipitate withdrawal from other depressant substances like alcohol or benzodiazepines, or, indirectly, through a suicidal depression brought on by addiction.  So the immediate priority of many treatment programs is to secure life and stabilise health.

Medically managed withdrawal symptoms

When abstinence is the chosen basis for recovery, the doctors, psychiatrists and nurses will ensure withdrawal from dependence is achieved as safely as possible.  Not every substance use disorders — for instance, to cocaine or marijuana — requires medically managed detoxification, although some medical assistance may be called for in easing a patient’s withdrawal from powerfully addictive drugs and even behaviours.

A stimulant user may need temporary medication in their drug addiction treatment program to alleviate post-withdrawal depression, intense cravings or severe agitation although, where possible, non-medical therapies are preferred.  Someone compulsively using hallucinogens like LSD or ecstasy may also require mental health treatment or other medical assistance due to the effects of these chemicals.  Some of the harms to be addressed will be direct, as with the physical toxicity of a substance such as Khat or methamphetamine or risky behaviour such as chemsex, while others will relate to the brain/mind damage caused by chronic use.

The addictive mindset can undermine the approach to quality treatment

Recovery’s potential exists solely within the patient, who can realise it with help.  However, people generally arrive at a treatment facility with a mindset overtaken by addiction, causing them to approach rehabilitation services as they would an addictive drug or behaviour; as something to “fix” them.

They may be hopeful that the experts will simply make them better, avoiding, if at all possible, having to involve themselves proactively or to take responsibility for making difficult changes.   They would like the treatment process to be as swift and efficient as a mechanical repair or surgery.  Families often harbour this hope also.

Treatment programs therefore involves reality checks and detailed health education about the nature of addiction, as well as what is required to navigate the challenges so as to reap the rewards of recovery.  Recovery process is a process that takes time, requiring ongoing personal commitment to daily practice.

A safe, contained environment in which change is possible

The fact that an intensive addiction treatment episode is quite short may unintentionally encourage the belief that a person can be relieved of their addiction in a relatively quick time.  A stay in a luxury addiction rehab centre like Clinic Les Alpes is, of course, only the starting point.

Having stabilised health and facilitated withdrawal, the psycho-social groundwork is laid for a new approach to life that reduces the chances of relapse.  Although, subject to the patient’s health and capacity to engage, it is most helpful for these processes to overlap.

The provider’s role is to create a safe, contained environment — best achieved in a comprehensive, integrated residential service — in which change is possible, helping the person to recognise, understand and practice use of the resources available to them.

From ambivalence to commitment

All sorts of reasons propel a person towards professional help; from a genuine desire for change borne of desperation, to keeping family pressure off their back or to taking a time out for respite.  It is almost inevitable that a person approaching admission to a treatment centre will do so with some uncertainty, if not full-blown anxiety.

However awful the world of addiction may have become, it is at least familiar.  Unless they have had some previous experience, addicted people do not know what recovery entails or holds for them.  They must take much on trust; something which addiction undermines or removes.  Treatment teams therefore expect to have to work with ambivalence and resistance.

The motivation and commitment to treatment may be tenuous at first.  After all, the patient is being invited to surrender a degree of control over their life in the short term in order to let go of their attachment to substances or behaviours they have come to see as indispensable.  The treatment team helps the person become fully motivated to engage with recovery for its own sake; to secure it, above all, for themselves.

addiction treatment process start with commitment and saying no

Values aligned with recovery

Addiction operates according to a set of values, which are alienating and ultimately self-destructive.  The patient will be introduced to values that align with recovery.  Top of the list: honesty.  The person will be afforded the opportunity to be completely honest, perhaps for the first time and almost certainly since addiction took hold.

Addiction likes nothing better than secrecy and deception.  It is how it protects and perpetuates itself.  This is why a treatment centre has expectations regarding the conduct of its patients.  These are based on sound, rational principles to ensure the safety of one and all at the facility and to promote recovery.

Re-connecting with others

Addiction has been described as a state of disconnection from others, isolation being a central feature of the condition whose demands grow increasingly exclusive.  It has been suggested that addiction is more likely to occur when people lose faith in human relationships as a source of emotional sustenance and reward; something that may have deep historic roots, including possibly, as a reaction to early-life trauma.

Part of treatment is to help the person reconnect with others, to trust them enough to interact with them openly and seek their help and support.  Mutual aid is likely to be a cornerstone of long-term recovery.

Experiential learning is an important part of the process.  The care environment offers the opportunity to practice the changes needed on which to base a sustainable recovery well beyond treatment services.  Through helping others in a similar predicament and being helped by them, the person will be able to rediscover the benefits of interpersonal relationships.

The importance of family involvement

Rather than seeing them as peripheral or as an afterthought, involving the family in the treatment of one of its family members is an essential part of the therapeutic process. A systemic approach is necessary.  It helps neutralise the unhelpful tendency to blame or seek some sort of redress for the distress and hurt endured.  Working together, the family as a whole can recover both individually and collectively.

addiction treatment services at Clinic Les Alpes

A combination of therapies and treatment programs

The treatment team will employ a combination of psychological therapies, including one-to-one counselling, behavioral therapy, group therapy and Twelve-Step Facilitation.  It may draw on psychotherapeutic models such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or Motivational Enhancement Therapy.

It may also call on a variety of complementary therapies such as art therapy, guided relaxation, massage, yoga, nutrition, sleep hygiene, equine-assisted therapy and various forms of exercise to battle addictive disorders.

People will learn ways to cope with stress without resorting to self-harming behaviours, discover means of regulating their emotions without reliance on chemicals or potentially addictive behaviours and explore ways of emotionally rewarding themselves in healthier ways.

Understanding their personal susceptibility to addiction that is revealed in their attitudes, interactions, mindsets, beliefs, relationships and behaviours, will give some protection against relapse.  This may include resolving the lasting effects of historic trauma and other mental health issues. There will be care and support for dealing with co-existing problems such as disordered eating, pain management or disrupted sleep.

Continuing recovery plan

A continuing recovery plan will be devised as part of our addiction treatment programs to help patients sustain gains made in treatment and prevent relapse as they return to the everyday world.  The centre will remain available for ongoing support and guidance, and the patient must undergo outpatient treatment and group therapy sessions weekly.

Substance Abuse and Addictions:

  • Alcohol
  • Opiates: Heroin, morphine, prescribed drugs
  • Depressants: Barbiturates, benzodiazepines, hypnotics
  • Stimulants: (meth)amphetamines, cocaine
  • THC: Marijuana, hashish
  • Club drugs: MDMA, Flunitrazepam
  • Inhalants: Nitrous oxide, glue, gasoline, cleaning fluids
  • Hallucinogens: LSD, Mescaline
  • Nicotine
  • And others with problem use

Behavioural Addictions: