Rehab addict is a term that can have two very specific but very different meanings.
The most normal and traditional meaning is that it is a term that has applied to an individual who enters a rehab because they have an addiction to alcohol or drugs or some other type of compulsive behaviour such as gambling.
Such an individual will enter a residential rehab for a fixed period of time, normally about 28 days, where they will begin the process of recovery from their addiction.
They are quite often known as a rehab addict, and during the course of their treatment or when attending 12-step meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous will refer to themselves either as an alcoholic or as an addict.
The other use of the term rehab addict is as real, but very different. It is a term normally applied to someone who knowingly is addicted, or is said to be addicted to entering rehabs to do with their life problems, which may well include serious addictions such as alcohol, drugs or gambling.
This can be a serious problem, but is one that rehabs themselves very rarely tend to address. Anyone entering a residential rehab for a fixed period of time will normally have a fairly clear message given to them.
The message will be that the time spent in rehab is in many ways simply the beginning of the process of recovery from alcoholism or drug addiction, and that the main work needs to be done once the individual has left rehab.
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As such the individual will most often be encouraged to attend meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous as a way of sustaining and maintaining long-term sobriety.
The truth is that many people entering a rehab may struggle with this, and hope that simply going into a rehab once will solve their problems.
After they have left they inevitably find this is not the case, and whether or not they tend to offset meetings this will struggle with many of the underlying emotional difficulties fuelled that alcoholism or drug addiction in the first place.
There is quite often a tendency to want to go back into a rehab, not least of all because a rehab is often a very structured, quite rigid institution which creates a sense of safety that the individual in recovery does not necessarily experience in day-to-day life.
A rehab addict in this context, is someone who simply is always trying, albeit over a period of years to get their recovery sorted by continually going back into rehab.
This may be because although they have stayed sober they have not dealt with their underlying issues, or it may be because they have continually tried to give up alcohol/drugs and have been unable to do so. The inherent danger in this type of approach is that it simply makes the individual dependant upon some type of institution rather than on their own recovery program, 12 step or otherwise.