The Importance of Trust in Rehabilitation
One of the most devastating and significant losses an addict experiences during the lifetime of his or her addiction is trust – the ability to rely on friends and family members and to find comfort and safety among other human beings. The nature of addiction is one in which lying, stealing and cheating are pervasive, and it is often every man for him- or herself. If the addiction is the result of early trauma, or resulted in trauma, many addicts lose their ability to trust at the hands of another human being, which can make trusting anyone nearly impossible and can lead to profound feelings of isolation, despair and even paranoia. Trust can be one of the most difficult functions to regain during the healing process, and what can be lost in a moment can take months and even years to rebuild.
Not only is privacy and confidentiality required by law, it will, more importantly, lead to better care and better recovery for each patient.
Treatment centers play a vital role in helping the recovering addict regain his or her ability to trust, both while receiving treatment in the facility and also when reintegrating into normal life outside the rehabilitation center. Before effective treatment can begin, it is important to help the patient feel safe and secure within the walls of the treatment center and when interacting with the doctors, counselors, staff and other patients. There are many legal standards that have been put in place to make sure this happens, including the Privacy Act and various confidentiality codes – but legal jargon often means nothing to patients. Patients must feel palpably reassured by their chosen facility, and it is the responsibility of each facility to make sure this happens. Not only is privacy and confidentiality required by law, it will, more importantly, lead to better care and better recovery for each patient.
Central to garnering the trust of patients in a rehabilitation facility, and thus helping them to rebuild their ability to trust others, is the reassurance that the treatment center will uphold confidentiality, keeping each patient's information completely private. The ability of the patient to feel safe and secure is pivotal to his or her recovery, and the adherence to strict codes of confidentiality is one important way in which treatment centers can create a safe environment for recovery. Not only will the promise of strict confidentiality make the recovering addict feel safer, it will also encourage the individual to share more information about his or her past with treatment center counselors and doctors, which will enable the centers to provide better, more comprehensive and more individualized care to every patient. If patients feel secure in the knowledge that their information will be kept completely private, they may be more willing to share the more painful details of their pasts, without fear that they will be violated, criticized, or persecuted. This will enable their treatment providers to delve more deeply into the causes of and possible solutions to their problems with addiction.
Treatment centers need to assist their patients in recreating this trust through experiential therapies, group exercises, role-playing, etc.
Often treated as an afterthought, the building of trust between a patient and other patients in a treatment facility is also an integral part of the recovering addict's rehabilitation process and his or her eventual reintegration into society. Many patients will feel comfortable with the treatment center facility and staff, but they will still doubt their safety when it comes to their fellow patients. Treatment centers need to assist their patients in recreating this trust through experiential therapies, group exercises, role-playing, etc. This can prepare them for the time that their fellow patients become their peers, coworkers, or friends. Learning to trust their peers in the treatment facility is vital to helping the patient learn to trust the greater humanity outside the facility.
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