Many rehab patients continue to receive treatment for their addictions after leaving rehab. They may have regular clinic visits with a doctor to manage physical symptoms. Patients may also meet with a counselor on a regular, outpatient basis to refine coping skills. In addition to the love and support of family and friends, patients may also attend support group meetings after leaving a drug rehab treatment facility. All of these aftercare services help patients remain drug free and avoid relapse.
With opiate abuse (heroin, morphine, OxyContin, Vicodin), withdrawal symptoms usually start within a matter of hours and last for several days. With stimulants like cocaine or methamphetamine, withdrawal may be more extensive, with cravings, depression, and anxiety lasting for several months. Withdrawal from prescription medications, such as sedatives in the benzodiazepine family (Valium, Xanax, Ativan) may require a drug taper lasting a number of weeks to clear the chemical safely from your system.
As the brain matures, experiences prune excess neural connections while strengthening those that are used more often. Many scientists think that this process contributes to the steady reduction in gray matter volume seen during adolescence (depicted as the yellow to blue transition in the figure). As environmental forces help determine which connections will wither and which will thrive, the brain circuits that emerge become more efficient. However, this is a process that can cut both ways because not all tasks are desirable. The environment is like an artist who creates a sculpture by chipping away excess marble; and just like bad artists can produce bad art, environments with negative factors (like drugs, malnutrition, bullying, or sleep deprivation) can lead to efficient but potentially harmful circuits that conspire against a person's well-being. Coming KLEAN: Stories of Overcoming Addiction, The Documentary (Rated R)