Do I Need Treatment?

Do I Need Treatment? 1
GateHouse Treatment Centers


There is indeed no monopoly in ways to get clean or sober.

It does appear though, the right addiction treatment centers can provide assistance in assuring the best possible outcome. The main reason for this is that the disease of addiction or alcoholism impacts the sufferer on multiple fronts: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. A different perspective on the same scope of the needs to be addressed can be seen in the famous psychologist, Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of needs.”

One Psychology Today article states it this way, “Maslow’s so-called ‘hierarchy of needs’ is often presented as a five-level pyramid, with higher needs coming into focus only once lower, more basic needs are met. Maslow called the bottom four levels of the pyramid ‘deficiency needs’ because a person does not feel anything if they are met, but becomes anxious if they are not. Thus, physiological needs such as eating, drinking, and sleeping are deficiency needs, as are safety needs, social needs such as friendship, sexual intimacy, and ego needs such as self-esteem and recognition.”

For the addict or alcoholic, these deficiency needs tend to have a more significant level of severity attached to them. They usually require professional assistance. The right long-term program with a comprehensive approach can help the client begin to address multiple areas simultaneously. Below is a break down of the Hierarchy from the perspective of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of addiction treated in a long-term drug rehab, like GateHouse Treatment.


The first part of recovery is to stop using. Although, this conclusion is obvious, it is one of the most difficult challenges. The fear of the withdrawal often keeps people using with harmful results. Proper medical attention can ease their physical symptoms, giving the patient peace of mind, making this first step easier to take. Some substances can even be fatal to detox from without appropriate medical care.

Additionally, the potential medical issues from the behaviors of active alcoholism and drug addiction often require medical attention as well. Common physical conditions can include:

  • Unintentional self-injury
  • Infections
  • STD’s
  • Liver damage
  • Malnutrition
  • Hepatitis
  • Lack of sleep

The 12 step fellowships are unequipped and not intended to address such issues which are vital to the quality of life of the client while starting a new life. Stabilization at a medical detox facility and preventative medical attention can make all the difference in the beginning. Additionally, early recovery beyond detox is greatly assisted by a healthy diet, mild exercise and regular sleep.


There are many mental aspects of the disease of alcoholism and addiction that will be addressed directly in treatment. Professional help on some of these is the most effective approach. Other factors are best assisted by professionals. Education is often the first line of defense against the disease of addiction. It is difficult if not impossible to be free of conditions which go undetected. Here are some examples of subjects clients begin to learn about on the road to restoration in treatment.

Co-Occurring Disorders

If a person seeking recovery from drugs and alcohol suffers a second mental illness like depression or bipolar for example and it goes untreated, the chance of relapse is significantly high. This can often be very tricky because the symptoms of some mental illnesses and addiction are identical or very similar. A person coming from the throws of addiction is likely to suffer “circumstantial” depression due to the consequences of addiction; however, “clinical” depression is a biochemical condition that will require a different solution. Clients who suffer co-occurring disorders commonly need lengthier stays in treatment to increase successful outcome potentials.

Psychology Today explains, “People with co-occurring disorders often experience more severe and chronic medical, social, and emotional problems than people experiencing a mental health condition or substance use disorder alone. Because they have two disorders, they are vulnerable to both relapse and a worsening of the psychiatric disorder. Further, addiction relapse often leads to psychiatric distress, and worsening of psychiatric problems often leads to addiction relapse. Thus, relapse prevention must be specifically designed for the unique needs of people with co-occurring disorders. Compared to patients who have a single disorder, patients with co-existing conditions often require longer treatment, have more crises, and progress more gradually in treatment.”

Cognitive Disorders

According to the ASAM definition of addiction, there are many factors of addiction which requires addressing. “Cognitive and affective distortions, which impair perceptions and compromise the ability to deal with feelings, resulting in significant self-deception…”

Defense Mechanisms

Every person uses defense mechanisms. Addicts and alcoholics apply them to the extreme. These misused coping skills are designed for self-protection and will be used to protect thoughts that foster addictive behaviors. A list of common ones is:

  • Denial
  • Acting out
  • Disassociation
  • Regression
  • Projection
  • Intellectualization
  • Rationalization

John M. Grohol, Psy.D. founder & CEO of Psych Central, writes, “Most defense mechanisms are fairly unconscious – this means most of us don’t realize we’re using them the moment. Some types of psychotherapy can help a person become aware of what defense mechanisms they are using, how effective they are, and how to use less primitive and more effective mechanisms in the future.”

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Many evidence-based practices have proven to show practical results with the mental aspects of recovery from alcoholism and addiction. Among the most popular is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy; most often referred to as CBT, this therapeutic approach is instrumental in helping clients to identify destructive thought patterns and behaviors combined with systematically replacing new strategies that can prevent relapse.

The National Institute On Drug Abuse writes:

“Specific techniques include exploring the positive and negative consequences of continued drug use, self-monitoring to recognize cravings early and identify situations that might put one at risk for use, developing strategies for coping with cravings and avoiding those high-risk situations. Research indicates that the skills individuals learn through cognitive-behavioral approaches remain after the completion of treatment.”


Addiction fractures a person. Low self-esteem, guilt, shame, and remorse are very common for someone entering treatment. Many who suffer dependence, have also been survivors of abuse. The aforementioned ASAM source also states another factor of addiction is, “exposure to trauma or stressors that overwhelm an individual’s coping abilities.” Thoughts and emotions are different but work together. When emotions are raw, and sensitivity increased a more significant challenge is present. If unaddressed, overwhelming feelings tend to lead to relapse.

A safe, and structured environment like addiction treatment centers can become extremely important to nurturing clients towards the direction of health. The right staff, proper approaches, and surroundings can be crucial to success. On very extreme cases of emotional trauma other measures may be necessary. EMDR Therapy is a newer modality that has shown fast results for those in need. The Health section of U.S. News reports,

“The support of an inpatient treatment center makes it helpful to use EMDR because clients are monitored throughout the day and have staff nearby for support and extra care. EMDR is also meant to work in conjunction with traditional substance abuse treatment and should not be the main focus of treatment; it should be looked at as a supplemental treatment approach.”

For more information about EMDR therapy, call GateHouse Treatment, specializing in trauma therapy, at (855) 448-3588.


Although, treatment doesn’t address the spiritual nature of the illness, it can support, encourage and assist the client in finding their path outside of medicine or psychology. Too many treatment centers address the physical, mental and emotional aspects of the illness yet leave the spiritual piece to a passive referral to the 12 step fellowships. GateHouse Treatment‘s long-term program affords ample time for clients to engage in recovery actively while still in treatment. A lengthier term of care increases the odds of successful social reintegration exponentially.

GateHouse Treatment Editorial Staff
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