What Ben Affleck’s Return to Rehab Says About Addiction
Ben Affleck, award winning American actor and filmmaker, recently entered into a rehab facility for struggles with his alcohol addiction on August 22, 2018. This will mark his third trip to rehab since 2001. The current Batman actor chose rehab after his ex-wife, actress Jennifer Garner, brought an addiction specialist to his home and staged an intervention. Although it is not specifically stated that he relapsed, there are photographs of him receiving a delivery of bottles at his home, implying alcohol use. While he appeared to be in a bad state, it is also reported that he was cooperative in getting help. This shows how rehab had been helpful to him in the past and that he was aware his drinking was out of his control. But what does this say about treatment that he has to go back for a third time?
Ben Affleck’s Latest Stay in RehabBen’s most recent stay in rehab lasted for two weeks. He is currently receiving aftercare treatment according to reports. Two weeks, however, is a short stay at an inpatient rehab centre. Think about it like this, it takes a person weeks, months or years to become addicted to a substance. It is ambitious at best to think that two weeks, even four weeks, will be all that it takes to address everything that caused the addiction in the first place. The main reason that four weeks is the standard length of treatment centres around insurance companies and what they are willing to pay for treatment. It has nothing to do with what is in the best interest of the patients involved. Whether Affeck knows it or not, his short stay in rehab has been influenced by what insurance companies have been willing to pay. Picking therapies based on what will be paid is not the best way to approach addiction treatment. Research demonstrates that the most intensive forms of treatment (i.e., inpatient rehab) will have more people staying sober over the course of their lives. The longer the length of time in treatment impacts how well a patient does afterwards as well. While a couple weeks is better than no treatment at all, four weeks or more is preferable. To have some of the best chances of recovery and sobriety, a stay in treatment for 90 days is required. This length of time shows some of the best results in terms of treatment outcomes. Drug and alcohol treatment are often said to be based around people staying clean and sober. But is that all? According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, successful treatment can include many different factors, such as:
- Reduced or eliminated drug use. Increased time between relapses and lessen drug use when health is compromised.
- Improvements in work attainment, performance and attendance.
- Improvements in education attendance and performance.
- Relationship improvements with friends, loved ones, co-workers and community.
- Improved health, with fewer doctor and ER visits related to substance abuse.
- Better legal status with fewer arrests and incidents involving law enforcement.
- Improved mental status, with better reported mood, less anxiety and fewer emergency room visits due to mental illness.
- Fewer accidents or other unintentional harm to self or others.
Isn’t Three Tries at Rehab Bad?Many assume that once someone goes through the rehab process, they should be all set to go and be on the pathway to recovery. This broad statement covers everyone from people working in cafes to celebrities like Ben Affleck, but this general assumption is not always the case. Drug and alcohol addiction are lifelong diseases, yet many assume they’re more like bacterial infections, where a prescribed dose of antibiotics will cure the patient. Being an addict is a condition more like having diabetes, which benefits from a thorough understanding of the disease, how to monitor oneself, and learning to cope and live with it for the rest of their life. A person with a lifelong condition will be monitored by a physician, medications and treatments may be changed over time, and if things start to show a downward trend, more intensive treatments may be initiated. For a person with an addiction, the process is very much the same. They will be likely monitored by people in their lives, and inform or confront the addict when things appear to head toward a downward turn. This situation may call for more intensive measures such as attending more meetings or outpatient counselling. The best and most effective form of treatment though is inpatient rehab
Ben Affleck’s Return to Rehab was Like a Booster ShotInpatient treatment, or any return to rehab, is like getting a booster shot for recovery. A person does not need to have a relapse to go back in to treatment. The general rule is that the relapse starts before a person drinks or uses again. What most likely happens is that people stop taking care of themselves, start feeling less gratitude and more resentment, their mental and physical health deteriorates, and relapse soon follows. Many people will enter into rehab when they can see the signs that they are in a relapse spiral. Even if a relapse had not happened, Affleck was in a spiral, and he could fortunately see that and get the help he needed. An additional stay in rehab also offers people is a fresh perspective on recovery. Skills learned in a previous stay have not been forgotten, but they may need to be refreshed or practiced so they can be used to their fullest. It is a way to learn more about their own individual journey into addiction and recovery. More skills can be gained and work done to help support relationships and the family as a whole, as what will likely happen for Ben Affleck and his family.
Relapse Prevention and Avoiding the TriggersRelapse, as stated before, happens well before the first drink or drug use. Even if he did not drink again, Affleck was well into a relapse before he went back into treatment to support his recovery. Relapse prevention will be one of the important things to cover for him, and people new to their recovery. One of the main points to relapse prevention is to learn what the warning signs are. Most people who have tried to quit drinking or using on their own have relapsed, and thus any bit of insight for what a relapse looks and feels like for them is valuable information. First each person needs to learn what triggers them. A trigger is something that sets off a chain reaction that ends up in cravings and increased risk for using again. Triggers are very individual, so it is up to each person to learn what they are. For people who are new to recovery, or who are still shaky in it, then the simplest relapse prevention technique is to avoid triggers as much as possible. Avoiding relapse triggers could entail:
- Not going out to bars or places that serve alcohol
- Finding new places and avoiding old places where use occurred
- Spending time with friends other than the ones who drank or used drugs
- Removing items that bring up memories of drug or alcohol use, especially if they are pleasant memories
- Finding new types of music to listen to other than what was normally on when use occurred
- Managing time and sticking with a schedule to avoid a wandering mind where craving can sneak in