Addiction is a complex psychological disorder that is characterized by the compulsive and uncontrollable use of a substance despite chronic adverse consequences.
Being a mental disease, as opposed to being a personal weakness or lack of willpower, as was originally incorrectly believed, addiction needs to be treated with urgency and careful intention.
This typically requires the guidance and support of medical professionals, and so enrolling in a formal rehabilitation program is often the most common and successful route to recovery.
For those researching recovery, whether for themselves or family members, you may be wondering what exactly is different in the recovery process for alcohol versus the recovery process for drugs.
In this article, we’re going to discuss the main differences one would face in alcohol recovery and rehabilitation versus drug recovery and rehabilitation.
Identifying your recovery “style”
Just because you may be struggling with a substance use disorder at the same time that countless other people are, doesn’t mean you will all have the same recovery process.
While some people might prefer a conventional treatment plan, others might prefer a more dominantly holistic method, and others still, a hybrid model that merges the two. Some may be looking for a more group-oriented recovery program, while others want one-on-one counseling.
People are more than their problems, disorders and addictions — each person is an individual, and as such, will require a uniquely tailored recovery treatment plan.
It’s important to recognize not only the technical specifics of your circumstance (such as the type of substance you’ve been using, how long, and to what frequency or extremity), but also what you are wanting to find in a recovery program.
Recovery from drugs
Recovering from a drug-based substance use disorder tends to be more complex than recovering from an alcohol-based substance use disorder, due to the myriad of drugs out there.
It’s not unusual for an individual to struggle with multiple drug addictions at the same time, especially because certain drugs (such as cocaine and fentanyl) are often mixed together.
The influence of multiple substances raises the risks of experiencing dangerous (even potentially fatal) withdrawal effects. So, in these instances, the recovery process may be longer or have additional treatments.
Recovery from alcohol
Recovering from a substance use disorder that is alcohol-based is a little bit different than recovering from one that is drug-based, but not significantly so.
Due to alcohol being the sole form of this addiction and having been around for a very long time, the alcohol recovery process has been finely tuned and is fairly straightforward.
Differences in recovery
The truth is, the recovery process for drug addiction and the recovery process for alcohol addiction are almost exactly the same.
Both alcohol and drug treatment begin with an professional evaluation. This is where you will speak with one or multiple medical professionals in order to discuss—your family history, your current state of health, the extremity of your addiction, any additional mental or physical problems that could be contributing to the addiction and potentially other variables.
Both alcohol and drug treatment then require a medical detox. Since addiction takes a massive toll on your physical health and the functionality of your brain, a detox is almost always needed before entering into a rehabilitation program.
Withdrawals typically set in during the detox period, and happen for both drug and alcohol recovery. Depending on your circumstance, these withdrawal symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to a few months. The severity of these symptoms is dependent upon the length and intensity of your addiction, and specifically due to which substance was used.
The truth is, the primary differences in drug recovery and alcohol recovery are affected by two things: the individual patient, and the rehabilitation center they’re working with.
In most cases, addiction treatment for both drugs and alcohol will include:
Individual and/or group therapy
Educational lectures and “homework”
Special-focus support groups (such as for trauma or grief)
Skill- and relationship-building exercises
Potentially holistic therapies (such as equine or nature)
Now that you know what to expect in the recovery process of both drugs and alcohol, you’re ready to find a treatment center near you.
Find the right recovery program
If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance use disorder, seek professional help quickly. When left untreated, addiction can quickly take over the mind and prevent an individual from being able to lead a healthy, fulfilling, long life.
Feeling overwhelmed with where to start? Reach out to us today.
At Pyramid Healthcare, we specialize in giving the highest quality of care to every patient who trusts us to help them through their recovery. Our expert team is composed of dedicated individuals who have a passion for identifying human needs and creating sustainable solutions.
As a leading provider in client-focused care, we offer comprehensive behavioral healthcare that equips you with the tools to achieve sobriety and maintain it through life’s challenges.