Persons experiencing long term problematic substance use have usually been experiencing such challenges for a long period of time. The impact of dependence on our bodies, depending on the substance is usually significant especially if we have been using AOD substances for many years. Initial medical withdrawal from a substance takes between 7 to 10 days but the effects of that withdrawal process on the body can last a lot longer. People experiencing addiction may minimise health issues or ignore warning signs relating to their health and well being that become apparent once separated from substance. Healthy diet and exercise are usually not a priority, nor is sleep (or too much of it) and that can have a significant impact. These things take time to heal and resolve. Developing and sustaining physical and mental wellbeing, healthy eating, exercise and sleep hygiene are a focal point of rehabilitation.
For many people, sustaining regular use of AOD substances usually comes with behavioural and psychological challenges. Many people share about problematic thinking styles, intrusive thoughts and anxieties, nightmares and resentments. Frustration and regrets, shame and guilt and grief and loss, loneliness and isolation and many other complicated processes. Often people feel that without the use of substance, these challenges will significantly overwhelm them. Learning about these issues and their underlying causation and working though effective treatment is very important, and it takes time to do properly and thoroughly. Working through these processes in a supportive environment shows very strong positive outcomes.
Behaviours can be significantly affected by long term AOD use. A lot of people report that they are surprised at how many unhelpful behaviours (habits) they have developed as survival strategies and to be able to maintain substance use. People regularly share that they have had to compromise their personal values resulting in powerful shame and low self-esteem. There are those who report that they have forgotten or never learnt a lot of the skills required to navigate a quality lifestyle, everything from lifestyle basics right through to managing long term relationship and employment. Re-habiting or rehabilitation in these areas takes time and is worth the investment. We know that skill development and effective behavioural change is not linear. It takes time to learn and practise, to forget and make mistakes – this all part of being in treatment and outcomes show that this style of AOD treatment is very effective.