There is also an outpatient treatment plan option, where clients attend group-sessions every evening after work, for further support. Two weeks of aftercare is available free of charge to all our clients. We refer to it as the “contingency plan”. After completing treatment, clients often return for morning groups and therapy, and many become a part of the centre’s daily work.

During treatment, family support and counselling is important. That is why we offer family therapy, which involves individual sessions with a counsellor and a support group held every Tuesday evening for loved ones.

1. Staging an Intervention

This step begins when we receive a call from a loved one who is concerned about a family member’s substance abuse. We start off by finding out whether the client (the person with the addiction), is eager to come in for help, as we work with clients who voluntarily need and want the help. If so, the client will come in for an assessment to ascertain what sort of programme will be suitable for them. We assess: what their drug of choice is; how long they have been using; any form of past intervention; what their needs will be while in the program, and what support structures the family needs. When all this information is put together, the patient can be admitted and the process will begin.

In some cases, users are not willing to receive help or even come for an assessment, but the family may be traumatised due to the lies, manipulation, violence, aggressive behaviour and even theft that may have taken place. These behaviour patterns are, of course, as a result of the substance abuse. In a case like this, the family needs to keep themselves safe. As difficult as this may be for the family members, the counsellor would need to report the matter to the police. A social worker would then be assigned to the case, an investigation would take place and the court would then summons a user to rehabilitation with no negotiation. If this court order is breached the user would be arrested.

In the above case, the client would, in all probability, need someone whom they could listen or relate to . Every addict has his or her own struggles that have brought them to this point; whether it was trauma as a child (sexual, emotional or physical abuse), life changing events (such as losing a spouse), peer pressure or physical trauma, such as severe pain. All these factors end up providing the user with a reason to use a drug for comfort as it numbs unwanted emotions such as pain, anger, sadness, loneliness and depression.

2. Getting them to rehab

A user may come in to our facility at any time on any day. All we need is their “HOW”; Honest, Open and Willing. There is no judgment or shame about the sort of person the clients is or was. The process is there to help them, understand them, listen to them, love them, but at the same time be assertive and provide boundaries, which may not have been in place at any time in their lives.

3. The procedure

The patient will come in for treatment. They start with the primary programme and their progress will be reviewed after the 28 days has been completed. When they come in they must first see a GP for a medical check-up. If they have been constantly using and bingeing, they will be put on a detoxification regime, where they will be given medication to help with the withdrawals (the symptoms of which are; night sweats, vivid nightmares, shakes, paranoia, extreme anxiety or even a state of psychosis). Medication is administered by the staff nurse or doctor, with close observation. It is important for clients to learn to identify their triggers and address the underlying factors that have given rise to their addictions. Was it abuse? Trauma? Going back allows the client to finally deal with bottled-up emotions and get closure. It does require intense long-term therapy, but it is possible.

When the client has completed the programme; recovery becomes a part of them for the rest of their life. It needs to be another aspect of their lives, like maintaining their family, social life, spiritual life or work responsibility. Recovery entails that the client attend NA or AA meetings, work on their step work (the Minnesota Model or 12 step program), stay in touch with their sponsor and continue with therapy work if needed. A support system needs to be put in place. During this time family members that have been affected need to attend family support groups or even therapy for themselves. This gives them more clarity on the disease of addiction.

It is not easy, but it is not impossible. With a support structure in place, every day becomes better “JUST FOR TODAY”.

About Busi Mthali

Busi Mthali is a specialist in the field of dual-diagnosis patients. She has done extensive work in the UK on the National Health Service (NHS) mental health team, with a particular focus on clients suffering from a mental disorder, such as depression, combined with a substance-misuse problem. Previously she worked for the Department of Social Development with fostered children. (She has a BA Psychology and BA Social Science in Social Work (hons) degree.