Sober Living 101: What it Takes to Heal from Addiction (Part One)

Key Benefits of Sober Living | Transcend Recovery Community

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is a United States research institution whose mission is to bring together science and drug abuse and addiction. They have completed several studies and work together with various organizations to bring the latest information to the table regarding addiction and recovery. NIDA recently published a guide based on research that provides the 13 principles of effective drug addiction treatment. This series of two articles will list these principles and why they are pivotal for long-term sobriety. The principles are developed out of research, investigation into the contributing factors that ultimately lead to a successful recovery process.

The following are the first six of these principles:

    1. Drugs alcohol affect the brain’s structure and function. This can lead to changes in the brain that last even after drug use ends. This might explain why some users are prone to relapse even long after an addiction has come to an end.
    2. Treatment will not be the same for everyone. Because addiction is different for different people, treatment must also be different. Treatment must match the individual’s particular problems. For instance, the treatment setting, interventions, and the mental health services must adequately address a person’s needs to heal.
    3. Treatment needs to be readily available. Often, those with addiction have a high amount of ambivalence. They want to change but their physical craving for the drug keeps the addiction cycle going. Taking advantage of moments when a person is willing to enter treatment or sober living is critical. If services are not available so readily, the opportunity to treat might be lost.
    4. Treatment that is effective will address not just the addiction alone. For treatment to be effective, it must address the medical, psychological, social, vocational, and legal issues of an individual. In this way, treatment must be holistic in nature.
    5. Staying in treatment for as long as it takes is essential. The length of treatment, however, varies depending on the needs of the person. Research indicates that addictions that were strong and ongoing require at least 3 months in treatment in order to significantly reduce or stop the addiction. Also, recovery will frequently require several episodes of various levels of treatment. It might begin with rehabilitative treatment center and evolve to a sober living home and later regular attendance to groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Addiction is seen as a chronic illness requiring ongoing treatment and significant life change.
    6. Behavioral therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, are the most common type of drug abuse treatment. These types of therapy explore a person’s behavior, their choices, their ambivalence to make change in their life, as well as the motivation to sustain change. This kind of therapy also helps an individual develop new coping mechanisms and life skills to better manage their life.

The above are principles for treating addiction. Keeping these principles in mind can paint a map for what the healing process compared with your particular needs, strengths, and weaknesses. Knowing these principles can provide a foundation for the road ahead.

Based upon research, these 13 points (six listed here and the remaining seven listed in the next article) indicate what is necessary for effective sober living treatment and what will lead to healing addiction in the lives of those seeking a sober life. The next part of this series will continue with the remaining seven principles.


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