According to MacLean, Cameron, Harney and Lee (2012), volatile substance use is one of the main problems that make it hard to attain a desirable social fabric.
With most people turning into substance abuse, the question that is asked is how the psychosocial institutions can reduce the number of new abusers of drugs and alcohol and the way the drug and alcohol addicts can be rehabilitated and incorporated back in the society effectively.
Research shows that a substantial number of rehabilitation institutions have been established to facilitate the recovery of drug and alcohol addicts. However, further research reiterates the resounding role of social networks of the addicts in fostering full recovery and rehabilitation of the addicts.
Therefore, the development of interpersonal relations that foster the development of social networks and social identity is critical in the rehabilitation of the drug and alcohol addicts. More often than not, the rehabilitation process is halted only by paying attention to the social workers and psychological professionals, addicts, health care professionals, and the families of the addicts.
This leaves out the issue of interpersonal relations among addicts, yet is vital in rehabilitation. The main question that this paper seeks to answer is: what role do interpersonal relations play in drug and alcohol rehabilitation?
This paper argues that the policies governing the rehabilitation of drug and alcohol addicts should pay attention to interpersonal relations of the people under rehabilitation because they are the main determinants of complete rehabilitation.
In presenting the arguments, the paper begins by bringing out the essence of interpersonal relations of the subjects in drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs. This is followed by an intense discussion about the modalities of incorporating interpersonal factors in the road to recovery and rehabilitation of drug and alcohol addicts.
The discussion focuses on the exploration of studies that expand on drug and alcohol rehabilitation, before drawing conclusions and recommendations that can help in explaining how interpersonal relations should be factored in rehabilitation.
The essence of Interpersonal relations in drug and alcohol rehabilitation
As observed in the introduction, the rate of alcohol and substance abuse in quite high. Thus, substance abuse rehabilitation centres have been established to help volatile substance users regain their status and social position in the society.
However, as these centres continue to work, it is evident that they leave out important steps that are critical in offering complete therapy for the alcohol and drug abusers. Research ascertains the importance of groups in rehabilitative counselling and the administration of recovery medications for drug and alcohol abuse addicts (O’Farrell & Fals-Stewart, 2008).
Borrowing from this, it can be argued that drug and alcohol abuse is a habit that occurs in the social space. According to Morgenstern and Longabaugh (2000), the cognitive behaviours of individuals who engage in drug and substance abuse are largely shaped by the environment in which they dwell.
Therefore, the full recovery and complete rehabilitation of the drug and alcohol addicts can only be achieved when they are placed within the environments that influence their behaviour. Failure to do so implies a vacuum in the rehabilitation therapy. This is denoted by the separation of the people, physically or psychologically, from the environment in which they are supposed to dwell in for their entire lifetime (Klimas, 2010).
According to Klimas (2010), there is a close relationship between relationships and the recovery of drug and substance abusers. Therefore, the process of therapeutic change that is embraced by rehabilitation institutions needs to foster the interaction of individuals within the recovery group and the nature of relations that are embraced by individuals outside the recovery groups.
This argument is invigorated by the tendency of most addicts within the institutions to portray positive characters, denoting recovery as a way of speeding up the completion of the recovery process. These people often revert back to the earlier habits once they are out of the rehabilitation centres and out of monitoring institutions.
According to the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (2005), group therapy is highly favoured when it comes to the active phase of rehabilitation where the behaviour and actions of individuals and their close associates play a great role in enhancing behaviour change.
In a similar sense, the long-term recovery plans for the addicts have to consider the placement and consideration of all people who associate with the addicts within the wider social realm.
Most of the institutions that deal with the rehabilitation of drug and alcohol addicts only focus on the formal groups that are established therapeutically while ignoring the other interactions that are embraced by the addicts outside these groups.
Relationships in the cycle of addiction change as the stage of addiction progresses from one level to another. This is an important consideration in the rehabilitation process because changes in relationships also occur during the recovery phase of individuals who are undergoing rehabilitation (Klimas, 2010).
It is important to note that interpersonal relations play out differently in the recovery phase. In some cases, the recovering addicts may come from equally addicted families. In such situations, relations become more complex, but they are simple when it comes to the elimination of incidences of drug use.
Close ties between the addicts denote a high level of ties. These ties are depicted in acts of sympathy and excessive care and concern. In most cases, individuals may find themselves helping people they have close relations within the wrong way because of the high level of attachment and feelings that they have for the addicts.
This is common in cases where an addict enters a drug and alcohol recovery therapy as an individual. In situations where couples enter therapy together, they might also break some rules of recovery because of the mutual feelings they may have (Simmons, 2006). Therefore, consideration should also be paid to cases where relationships can be hindrances in the recovery of drug and alcohol addicts.
Interpersonal considerations in drug and alcohol rehabilitation
Klimas (2010) observes that the modern concept of group therapy in drug and substance abuse rehabilitation considers the extended issue of interpersonal relationships in attaining full recovery of the addicts.
This is based on the classification of the recovery therapy in two: group therapy, which applies during the early stages of recovery for the volatile substance use addicts and the outside group therapy that comes in the advanced stages of recovery.
Here, the question of the nature of relationships that should be embraced by the psychiatric and counsellors comes out. Individuals undergoing therapy undergo psychosocial problems during the entire process of recovery. These problems can only be sorted out by the kinds and levels of interactions that are fostered and who the addicts interact with (Klimas, 2010).
According to Price and Simmel (2002), people who are undergoing rehabilitation face psychological problems like trauma. The problems emanate from the changes in their lifestyles that are characterized by addiction. Such problems become much more complex when the addicts are confronting the health-related conditions caused by excessive drug use and alcoholism.
According to the research that was conducted by Price and Simmel (2002) to ascertain the role of partners in the addiction and recovery of addicted women, the researchers observed that the formation of partnerships is critical in solving the psychologically associated problems. Addicts can hardly recover in isolation. However, the other important thing to note is that addicts can only recover fully when right partnerships are formed.
According to UNDOC and WHO (2008), effective interventions for drug and alcohol addicts require the development of networked systems.
These systems are wide in the sense that they involve a wide range of partners, among them the civil society, labour, welfare, and the criminal justice, among others. Avoiding drug and alcohol abuse is attained when individuals understand the dangers of drugs and the essence of living a drug-free life.
Therefore, the involvement of a large number of players is critical in the dissemination of knowledge and the reduction of the rate at which drugs and alcohol are made available to people in the society. The importance of social welfare departments is reiterated, especially when it comes to the coordination of recovery for the addicts due to the nature of drug use in the society.
A substantial number of people who engage in drug abuse are people who are placed within highly interactive environments, for instance students. Therefore, interpersonal relationships cannot be easily avoided in the recovery of the individuals.
This is why the WHO and UNDOC insist on the involvement of the social welfare departments in the recovery of drug addicts and alcohol addicts. The greater involvement of the social welfare is to help in developing the modalities on which the relationships of the addicts under recovery can be monitored (UNDOC & WHO, 2008).
In their research about the importance of social support for drug addicts who are undergoing recovery therapy, Dobkin, De Civita, Paraherakis and Gill (2002) found out that high social support that comes from the encouragement of the recovering addicts to foster relations with people outside the rehabilitation process highly promotes quick recovery.
By further conducting a regression analysis based on hierarchy, Dobkin, De Civita, Paraherakis and Gill (2002) further observed that the pace of recovery is higher for patients who are allowed to embrace relations than inpatients or recovering addicts. This reiterates the value of social support, which is necessitated by the development of relationships with the recovering addicts in the course of their recovery.
This is supported by the research by Beattie and Longabaugh (1997), who insisted on the value of social relationships in the realms of drug and alcohol addiction and recovery.
The subjective well-being of alcohol addicts depends on the patterns of interactions that are fostered by the addicts and the kind of discussions that they engage in. Positive relationships, which in this case mean engaging in constructive group activities, help in stabilizing the mental and emotional status of the recovering addicts.
Granfield and Cloud (2001) brought about the issue of social capital gathered by the addicts in helping the addicts in complete recovery. Therefore, any policies that are developed to help with drug and alcohol recovery have to pay attention to natural recovery, which is largely pegged on social capital.
Social capital in this sense means the relationships, norms, and institutions that are available in the society. At the centre of the development of social capital entails the relationships that are developed by individuals because human beings are social beings and interaction plays a great role in the psychosocial development of people.
Relations within the lives of the addicts together with the actual resources that they possess is critical in cushioning the recovering addicts from the social and psychological forces that engulf their lives because of the changes that take place in their lives during recovery (Granfield & Cloud, 2001).
Challenges of embracing partnership and relationships in the recovery of drug and alcohol addicts
Partners can be engaged in the recovery of addicts in different ways. One of the common ways of engaging partners and embracing relations in the recovery of addicts is the choice of partners who can give assurance of recovery to the addicts.
Relationships are part of the extended care for the addicts and can facilitate complete recovery or bring about hindrances in the recovery of individuals. There are prospects of change that need to be observed and given full attention by the people who are monitoring the progress of recovery during recovery.
Taking an example from the Tekuma Recovery Group in Israel where the addicts are attached to role models to help in shaping the changes in their cognitive behaviours, it can be argued that the patient-therapist model of addiction recovery has to be expanded to include more people.
It is easy to encourage the participants to be fully responsible for their compulsive behaviours through the linkage of the addicts who are undergoing recovery with partners or allowing them to choose partners outside the inside recovery groups (Tekuma Recovery Group, n.d.).
Interpersonal distress is one of the main causes of drug use in the society. This distress comes from the kinds of relations and behaviours that are common in the environment in which a person dwells. Therefore, rehabilitating the severe cases of addiction needs to focus on the individual and the larger environment in which a person dwells.
Taking an example from the case study by Klimas (2010), one addict confessed that the behaviour of his mother forced him to start using drugs as a consolation. He always came home from work and found her mother completely drunk; therefore, he had to get some drugs to cope psychologically with the situation and handle the embarrassment and agony.
This means that a given form of complexity presents itself here. The main aim of running recovery programs is to reinstate the consciousness of the addicts so that they are fit to join the society. However, the same society might still be having the sources of distress that resulted in the addictive trends in the persons who have undergone full recovery.
According to Beattie and Longabaugh (1997), it is important to comprehend the roles that are played by social relationships in the course of recovery, treatment, or relapse of the addicts. This is very helpful, more so in the clarification of the way clients can make use of interpersonal relationships in an effective way, thereby maximizing the impact of the recovery and rehabilitation therapy.
Therefore, rehabilitating individuals should go far much deeper than dealing with the individuals alone into unearthing all forms of relationships that are fostered by the rehabilitated individuals and how they might contribute to the well-being of the individual.
For instance, in the case of an individual who started engaging in drugs because of the behaviour of her mother, people responsible for the recovery of the individual should go further and rehabilitate the mother if possible (Klimas, 2010).
According to Andjelokvic (2012), encouraging the clients in the rehabilitation centres to link with the community enables them to create intense levels of interaction. This is critical in the positive shaping of their emotional content. An example is the linkage of the clients to the spiritual mentors as part of the therapy.
The development of strong relationships with the spiritually inclined people enables the clients to mould their behaviours in line with the spiritual content. This is a form of counter-transference in drug and alcohol rehabilitation (Andjelokvic, 2012).
According to Klimas (2010), another issue that is common among the recovering addicts is that they often become allergic to developing and embracing social relationships.
This emanates from the changes that take place in the interpersonal functioning of an individual during the entire period the individual undergoes the recovery therapy. However, the question that comes out here is how these behaviours impact on the positive functioning of an individual in the society in the long term basis.
Koehn (2007) presented a framework on which relationships can be modelled in drug and alcohol abuse. Known as the relationship sculpture, this framework can help people who are experiencing drug addiction problems to explore the changes in their interpersonal relationships, especially the intimate relationships.
It is critical to assess the changes in the relations’ landscape of the addicts throughout the entire process of recovery as set by the facilitators of recovery in order to experience changes in their lives.
The discussion conducted in the paper reiterates the importance of broadening the angle at which interpersonal relationships are developed and fostered by the recovering addicts. Most of the points presented in the paper denote that interpersonal relationships play a dual role when it comes to drug and alcohol use and recovery from drugs.
Just as interpersonal relationships can cause drug addiction, such relationships can also play a critical role in the full recovery of drug and alcohol addicts.
However, this depends on the level at which the professionals dealing with the clients in drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs understand the interplay between interpersonal networks and relationships in the recovery process.
It is important for the professionals who are working with the addicts to know most of the conflicting priorities that can prevent the addicts from developing and maintaining relationships with the social networks established within the formal recovery groups and outside the formal groups.
The discussion also points to the need for counsellors and psychologists, as well as other healthcare professionals working with substance abusers to broaden their scope regarding the issue of interpersonal relationships because they often take the centre stage in addiction and recovery.
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