The Misinterpretation of Alcohol Addiction Rehabilitation

Misinterpretation of Alcohol Addiciton RehabilitationThe term “alcohol addiction rehabilitation” is misleading sometimes, for two reasons. First, some physical changes caused by long-time or heavy drinking can be irreversible. Secondly we may need skills and resources we never developed, rather than having lost them to drinking.

The term “alcohol addiction rehabilitation” is misleading sometimes, for two reasons. First, some physical changes caused by long-time or heavy drinking can be irreversible. That’s no reason to feel hopeless or give up on the idea of alcohol addiction rehabilitation as pointless – short of imminent death, it is possible to stop further damage and usually to regain substantial quality of life.


Also, though it’s safest for anyone who has become alcoholic to quit drinking completely and permanently, that doesn’t mean being miserable. Most of us started drinking to do either or both of two things: to reduce pain, usually emotional, and to have fun, most often with other people. Life Works holds that good rehabilitation programs teach alternative ways to do both, and a healthy recovery community after completing alcohol addiction rehabilitation treatment will offer opportunities for those alternative activities.

Here’s the other reason the term is inaccurate: we may need skills and resources we never developed, rather than having lost them to drinking. When it comes to those things, the word “habilitation” fits what we want better than “rehabilitation.” Many in recovery say their emotional maturation stopped when their heavy drinking or drugging started, and didn’t resume until they got clean and sober.  If that’s true for you, you may feel more like a 12-year-old disguised as an adult than the real thing – many situations others take for granted can be baffling and intimidating.  For example, many people new to recovery realize they’ve never danced or gone on a date sober.  They’ve never learned how to manage strong emotions except by numbing them.  So learning those things is breaking new ground, not regaining any that was lost.

Beyond that, the important things to know about alcohol addiction rehabilitation is that it’s a slow process (and coping with impatience is another of those adult skills we may need to learn), that it’s one that affects every part of our lives, and that there are no points for style – it’s unrealistic to expect ourselves to be good at anything the first time we do it, and that goes for this too.

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