One of the hardest aspects of addiction to understand is the fact that addiction is rarely about the substance or behaviour a person is addicted to. Rather, it is an inability to cope with something in one’s life, resulting in turning to specific behaviours in order to escape from what one cannot cope with. This reality can mean an addict suffers from multiple addictions. Such cases require something known as secondary rehab.
We can illustrate the need for secondary rehab by telling the fictional story of a man named John. A middle-aged father of three, John was a casual drinker until his mid-20s found him fresh out of university and unable to find work. His casual alcohol use became abuse, which, left unchecked, ultimately lead to alcoholism. By the time John was in his mid-30s, he had been a full-blown alcoholic for many years.
John attempted on many occasions to stop drinking via outpatient rehab. However, he could not deal with his intense cravings for alcohol with only the help of a 12-step programme and some medication he was offered. Instead, he ended up turning to marijuana. By the time he finally sought residential treatment for his alcohol problem, he was also addicted to cannabis.
Unfortunately, secondary rehab is often the result of primary rehab not being conducted properly or being left incomplete. When left incomplete, it is usually because the addict dropped out of the programme somewhere along the line. Nevertheless, regardless of the cause, secondary rehab is necessary because the real root of addictive behaviour was never addressed.
Roots of Addictive Behaviour
Many people think of addiction as only a physical issue caused by imbalances in brain chemicals. However, that is only half the story. In addition to physical addiction, there are also deep-rooted psychological and emotional issues involved. If you are struggling with alcohol or drugs, you know exactly what we’re talking about.
In your addictive state, you may believe there is nothing in life worth living for unless you are high or drunk. You might also be afraid of going through rehab because you do not know how you’ll cope without drugs or alcohol. These thoughts and fears are not a physical problem. They are a psychological and emotional problem that has developed as the result of addiction.
Beyond these irrational thoughts and fears, there are even deeper issues to deal with. For example, it is not uncommon for a recovering addict to be dealing with tremendous loneliness or feelings of low self-worth. They may mistakenly believe that drugs are a solution to how they are feeling because they do, for a short time, allow a bit of escape. All of these things need to be dealt with in secondary rehab.
Before moving on, we need to point out that secondary rehab is not the same thing as a dual diagnosis treatment. Here’s the difference:
- Dual Diagnosis - A dual diagnosis is a scenario in which an individual suffers from both addiction and a mental issue simultaneously. An alcoholic with clinical depression is a good example. Because these two issues are interdependent in many cases, they are treated together.
- Secondary Addiction - A secondary addiction is one in which a person has developed a habit for a second substance while being treated for addiction to a primary substance. Our previous example of the alcoholic who turned to marijuana illustrates the principle perfectly.
If you are suffering from a dual diagnosis condition, you will be treated for both simultaneously. If you are dealing with a secondary addiction circumstance, your addictions will likely be dealt with as individual problems, even if treatment is coincidental.
How Secondary Treatment Works
It is extremely difficult for us to give you a concrete synopsis of how secondary treatment works. As it is, the clinics we work with take advantage of bespoke treatment plans for primary addictions. Adding secondary rehab will be even more customised depending on the primary issue being dealt with. Having said that, let us discuss some of the things that might be utilised in secondary rehab.
Beginning with detox, it might not be necessary for secondary rehab if the condition can be managed through medication while the primary addiction is being dealt with. For example, a heroin addict who is being treated secondarily for alcoholism may not need alcohol detox if he or she is currently taking methadone. Obviously, only a medical professional can make that assessment. If detox is necessary, it will be part of secondary rehab.
Psychotherapeutic treatments will be more important in most cases. Why? Because the secondary addiction is directly linked to the psychological and mental issues that were not addressed during primary rehab. In almost every case of secondary rehab, there will be intense focus on treatments like cognitive behavioural therapy.
The treatments will be centred on helping the recovering addict uncover those underlying psychological and emotional issues that are so troubling. They will also help the addict learn to identify what triggers addictive behaviour and develop strategies to combat those triggers in the future. Creating successful strategies can mean the difference between ultimate success and failure.
Perhaps the most difficult thing about secondary rehab is bringing the recovering addict to a place where he or she is ready to take ownership of their future. No amount of medication or psychotherapy can ever stop someone from taking drugs or drinking alcohol. Stopping is an individual choice that must be exercised by the recovering addict.
We assume you are visiting our website because you believe you are struggling with an addiction problem. That’s the first step toward recovery. Now you need to take the next step by calling our recovery addiction helpline right away. Our addiction recovery counsellors are standing by to give you a free and comprehensive assessment and recommend and appropriate course of treatment.
Help is available if you are ready to be helped. As a referral and consulting service, we work with the best drug and alcohol rehab clinics throughout the UK. We would love the opportunity to help you regain control of your life. Will you let us?