Why try DARA Rehab, after relapsing

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Relapsing after recovery can feel like defeat. A recent survey of DARA Rehab clientele found that one in every 6 clients we care for have at some point in their lives, tried another rehab before coming to us.

Choosing a rehab that suits your needs is important. But what are the differences between rehabs, and if you have relapsed before should you try again?

The rehab after relapsing: DARA is a certified choice

DARA Rehab is on an island in sunny Thailand. For some people that can remove an extra level of temptation because it means they are putting another barrier between themselves and the place they originally used. It is the only licensed rehab in Thailand to offer an island location. 

“Some of the clients who come here, have tried other rehabs and found they didn’t really meet their needs,” says DARA therapist Kim Laurence. In some instances, individuals can start treatment at another rehab, find it isn’t suited to them and move to DARA. In other instances, they complete their course of treatment and relapse before coming to DARA Rehab. 

Kim says it’s important to remain positive because we have to remember that “addiction is an accumulation of decades worth of experience and events. It’s not going to always take a single treatment or a single thing to help you. Rehab is about working through those underlying issues to get well again.”

Why do people relapse?

“Life is a learning experience,” says Kim, “you may come across new challenges, that create new triggers. It’s heartening to know you can still find your sobriety again. When new issues arise, it’s about addressing them. That’s why going to rehab more than once in life is ok.”

Substance addiction is not curable. When clients attend rehab they are not “fixed” but they do undergo therapy. As part of that therapy, the underlying reasons for their substance abuse is examined. At DARA Rehab that means their therapist works with them to help them examine and understand why they are exhibiting self-destructive behaviour. Often drinking and drug use can be a way to mask feelings of anxiety and depression. They can also be a way to hide from the stresses of life. 

Kim joined DARA Rehab, in Koh Chang, Thailand, after working in New Zealand.

Kim says for clients who have relapsed before they often have worries about it happening again, explaining “they may have been to another rehab and view their previous treatment as a failure. But, relapsing does not mean your other treatment has necessarily failed you.”

It’s important for the individual to know that everyone has the capacity to overcome addiction. Relapsing can happen, but it is not the end. In some instances, a person may attend rehab and remain sober for a decade, but then relapse.

“Life is a learning experience,” says Kim, “you may come across new challenges, that creates new triggers. It’s heartening to know you can still find your sobriety again. When new issues arise, it’s about addressing them. That’s why going to rehab more than once in life is ok.”

Rehab fail: Why try again?

Despite undergoing treatment, relapsing may happen. It does not mean their treatment was a failure, but it does mean they need continued care. Every rehab subscribes to a different treatment ethos.

“Their [other rehab’s] program can be vastly different from ours. Just because you’ve been to rehab, doesn’t mean you have had an experience as you will have at DARA Rehab,” says Kim. Compared to other rehabs Kim has worked at she says “besides the beautiful surroundings, it was striking to see how happy the clients were the first time I walked in here. You have a real sense that people want to be here, and they that they are happy.”

With no mandatory or court-ordered clients, everyone at DARA has a genuine desire to be here, and that supportive community supports recovery. 

“Here you have therapy combined with personal training, a nutritious meal plan and a highly unique beautiful environment.”

The balcony view from a clients cabin shows how beautiful DARA Rehab is.

“Another notable point is that here the treatment is individualised. It’s about finding what works for you and creating a personal treatment plan. For example, some people may have struggled with faith-based treatments in the past. Our program is not based on religion. But, we support finding what works for you. We have clients from across the world, who have different beliefs. The personalised delivery of our treatment and the high client-to-staff ratio means we have the capacity to cater to individuals.”

Rehab vs. Meetings: Can’t you just go to Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)?

“I am a big advocate for seeing a qualified therapist as well as having a positive support system,” says Kim.

“Alcoholic Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous add value. They are particularly important in aftercare to many clients maintaining their sobriety but they are not a replacement for therapy. At rehab, with qualified clinicians, we offer bi-weekly one on one psychotherapy. If you are considering rehab, or your family member is, you need to understand that this aspect of treatment is not something you will get in an AA or NA meeting. This is where you can address the deeper issues you have, and look at the underlying reasons for self-destructive behavior. Addiction is complex. Without working through those issues, a support network along won’t give you the same outcome.”

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are not replacements for rehab because at rehab you are receiving help from certified mental health professionals in group and one-on-one sessions. 

Being one of only four rehabs that are licensed in Thailand meant DARA Rehab had to undergo additional levels of scrutiny by the Thailand Ministry of Health. This includes maintaining a staff of qualified mental health professionals. This may sound like a given, but if a rehab is not certified it does not have to employ qualified therapists.

Advice for families if your loved one is relapsing

Try not to give up. Addiction is not going to disappear overnight. Working out how to live a sober life can be a struggle. Having people around you who are supportive is very important. 

Know when to defer: “Family members can actually enable addiction because they don’t understand, so even though they have good intentions they can actually be counterproductive,” says Kim, “support groups like AA and NA are valuable for aftercare because it is an environment with others who do understand, and they can encourage individuals to hold themselves accountable.”

Encourage: Encouragement to join a support group or go to rehab is a valuable way to help a loved on. 

Participate: “It’s also important for family members to include themselves in the treatment process if possible. This is not an option with all rehabs but is offered at DARA Rehab.

“With a client’s permission, we do make contact with their family members or partner. That may be in the form of email updates, Skype sessions or a meeting.  If it’s appropriate we give regular updates.”

Ultimately, Kim says people with addictions and their family members “need to hear the words ‘don’t give up’, It might be hard right now. You might feel disappointed. But, recovery is possible.”

Family members who are seeking help, can contact DARA Rehab. 

A living example of recovery after relapse: Sam & Hope’s story

Hear from Hope, who’s husband Sam relapsed immediately after leaving another rehab facility in Thailand. She was determined to help him, and after he returned to New Zealand she had a more successful outcome with our second location Lanna Rehab.

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Anne -

Anne Lazarakis joined the DARA Rehab team from Sydney, Australia. She writes about addiction and mental health on a global, local and community level. She also relays personal accounts of substance abuse and recovery through the stories of our clients, their families and our own team members.

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