When entering rehab, it is helpful to know about the professionals and support staff who will be providing care and support in the treatment process. These personnel will be part of the person’s life for the weeks or months of treatment, and it is always helpful to know whom to connect with to engage in the different aspects of the program.
Knowing the range of specialists who might be available for support in a particular program might also help the individual determine whether that program is the right fit for their specific needs.
The admissions specialist is likely to be the individual’s first contact in the treatment program. These support staff members are able to guide the person through the admission process, including setting up transportation if necessary, helping to find sources of financial support, and offering information on what to bring and what to expect.
This individual can answer questions about any aspect of the treatment center and programs and is an excellent source for determining if the treatment center is the right one for the individual in question. The admissions specialist can also help family members find resources, such as intervention specialists and detox programs.
Treatment Program or Case Managers
These individuals are the professionals who help to develop and manage the individual’s customized treatment plan. This staff member is important because, as the National Institute on Drug Abuse emphasizes, no single treatment is right for every person.
Individuals enter rehab with a range of issues, histories, backgrounds, expectations, and capabilities. The customized plan makes sure that any co-occurring physical or mental conditions, home environment factors, or other elements are taken into account as the treatment plan is developed.
These professionals also keep track of any changes that require the plan to be altered and act as advocates for the individual as needed. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration encourages case management in substance abuse treatment because it streamlines and augments the addiction treatment process to benefit the individual.
Psychologists or Psychiatrists
Therapy is the cornerstone of experienced, research-based treatment programs. The professionals who provide addiction treatment counseling are specifically trained, licensed, and experienced in serving those who are struggling with addiction. Organizations like the American Society of Addiction Medicine and the American Academy of Health Care Providers provide education and support for these professionals to make sure they are up to date on the most current information and research-based treatments.
Addiction therapy providers offer everything from individual and group counseling to skills development to family therapy and motivation techniques. Developing a trust-based relationship with the therapist or counselor can increase the chances of achieving and maintaining recovery.
Doctors and Nurses
Doctors are generally available in treatment centers that provide detox services or other medically supported treatments. Medical professionals are most important in the case of severe withdrawal syndrome, such as what occurs when stopping alcohol or benzodiazepines. In cases involving delirium tremens or seizures, doctors are required to monitor and medicate withdrawal to make sure the individual doesn’t experience a life-threatening situation. Doctors may also be on call in case an individual experiences a dangerous relapse leading to overdose.
While doctors are not always required in an individual’s treatment, nurses are often found in rehab programs to monitor the individual’s health stats, make sure medications are properly administered, and manage any physical symptoms that manifest following mild detox.
Drug and alcohol abuse can take an incredible toll on an individual’s health, as described by the National Library of Medicine. Whether because of damage to the body’s ability to process specific nutrients – as in alcoholism’s effects on thiamine levels in the brain – or due to overall malnutrition based on damage to the digestive system or appetite, people entering rehab are often suffering from the negative health effects.
A well-rounded, research-based treatment program will include professional dietitians or nutritionists to help with these issues. These individuals can design meal plans that meet the individual’s nutritional needs based on health history and the drug of abuse, among other factors, optimizing the abilities of the brain and body to recover from the damage.
A powerful support of addiction treatment is exercise, evidenced by research summarized in Frontiers in Psychiatry. Many of the hormones and neurotransmitters that are affected by drug use are also associated with the body’s positive response to exercise. The pleasure and reward pathways that respond to drugs and alcohol also respond to physical activity, helping to alleviate symptoms of withdrawal, cravings, and physical discomfort that occur after stopping drug use.
Fitness coaches optimize this tool by helping individuals develop healthy exercise habits in activities that motivate them to keep moving. Everything from swimming, running, and biking to team sports or horseback riding can provide physical stimulation that can distract from and decrease the sensation of cravings that can lead to relapse.
It is important to note that some people who use exercise to help manage their addictions become addicted to exercise. For this reason, it’s a good idea to work with the fitness coach to develop a reasonable program that is not too intense.
Emotional and mental processing is not the only type of therapy that can be important to addiction recovery. The Journal of Addictions Nursing demonstrates that experiential therapies, such as art and music therapies, outdoor programs, and equestrian programs, can provide a channel for those who find talking about their problems to be a challenge. The therapists who provide the programs are specially trained to use these creative and experiential programs to help people who have mental health disorders like substance use disorders.
Not all treatment facilities have experiential therapists, but when these programs are available, they can provide an extra level of stress relief, motivation, and hope that can mean the difference between maintaining recovery and relapse.
Alumni Program Coordinators
Once treatment is over, it doesn’t mean the individual is left completely to their own devices. Many reputable rehab programs have alumni programs that keep in touch with former clients, providing continual motivational support through gatherings, feedback from therapists, and other events and aftercare resources to keep the individual connected and engaged in maintaining recovery.
Similar to the positive social network that surrounds the individual, the alumni program provides extra support from other people who have been through the rehab program. The alumni program coordinator makes sure that all former clients have access to this network and the related activities that contribute to the individual’s ability to stay sober and hopeful in the long run.
Working as a Team
The professionals and support staff who work in addiction treatment centers all have the same goal in mind: to help individuals who are struggling with addiction or mental health issues to find the tools and knowledge that will give them the best chance of achieving recovery. To this end, the dedicated professionals in reputable facilities spend a lifetime learning and keeping up to date on the methods shown to be most likely to achieve that goal.
Trusting in the treatment professionals and support staff and engaging fully in the treatment program provides a path that can, with time and patience, lead to recovery and sustained sobriety.
It’s Never Too Late to Get Help