What is Jellinek curve how it facilitates treating addiction

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Jellinek’s curve is a scheme of alcohol withdrawal, but it can also point to, for example, how to help a gambler. Its significance in the treatment of addiction of all kinds is universal.

Addiction follows certain stages, and the same goes for the recovery. These stages are relatively predictable. This is good because it can make the course of treatment easier for addicts.

Thanks to Jellinek curve, addicts (but also family members and sponsors) know what awaits them during treatment, what obstacles they will encounter, and how difficult it will be for them. Also that it is possible to keep your addiction under control.

Therefore, this curve is widely used by alcoholism treatment facilities for treating alcoholism, although it is also applicable to other types of addictions, such as gambling problem, addiction to pills, cocaine addiction, heroin addiction, etc.

How is the Jellinek curve designed

The Jellinek curve originated in the 1950s, when the study of alcoholism and its harmful effects on individuals and society came to be a global trend.

Later, this curve was adapted and applied to various sorts of addiction. It is named after its creator, Elvin Morton Jellinek, a professor of psychology at Yale and a pioneer in the scientific treatment of alcoholism. This scientist is one of the ones responsible for founding addiction treatment as a scientific field.

However, Max Glatt, also one of the pioneers in the treatment of addiction, equally participated in the creation of this famous curve. He is credited with shaping the part of the curve related to recovery–its ascending part.

Regardless of the stage of addiction, when it comes to alcohol withdrawal, both the ascending and the descending part of the curve enable addicts to better understand and remember the sequence of events and feelings that accompany it. They also finds it easier to see how their physical and mental characteristics are deteriorating while they are involved in the vicious circle of addiction.

However, the addicts can also see the path of recovery. The rise of the curve help them see (and celebrate) the progress on the way out of their addiction.

How do you reach the bottom as an addict

Jellinek’s curve shows the first symptoms of alcoholism, but it goes on, illustrating in detail how alcohol dependence is developed.

The falling line shows how occasional intake for relaxation purposes is followed by regular intake. This is followed by an increase in tolerance to alcohol and the beginning of black holes in the memory. They are typically followed by an inability to discuss the problem (whether it is alcohol dependence or something else) and a sense of guilt.

Then the use of the substance is intensified, which is all accompanied by excuses. Arrogance and aggression soon follow, and in parallel with them, constant sense of remorse.

The next steps down the curve are continuous failed attempts to control taking the substance, as well as betrayed promises to stop. Loss of interests, avoidance of friends and family, money issues, problems at work are all logical consequences.

Resentment for no reason, neglect of food, loss of willpower accompany increased tolerance and physical decay. This is usually followed by the beginning of longer intoxications, moral decay and damage of the thought process. Inexplicable fears occur, along with inability to move and obsession with taking the substance.

When all the excuses are exhausted, the recognition of complete defeat follows–the part where the curve has the biggest drop. As we say, when a person reaches the bottom.

From the vicious cycle of obsessive substance abuse, the rise begins–but only if there is an honest desire to get help.

Ascending part of the curve–the road to recovery

The curve from its bottom begins to climb with the knowledge that addiction is a disease and that it can be alleviated. Certainly, the next step is to stop taking the substance. Along the way, it helps to meet people who were once addicted, but now live normally and happily, and who can help draw the line.

From that moment on, right thinking begins and life needs are re-examined.

An examination by a specialist helps to awaken new hope, and the beginning of group therapy also contributes to that. Now the person who had the problem begins to appreciate the new way of life and gets rid of fears of an uncertain future.

With a regular diet, self-confidence and realistic thinking return, and the desire to escape from one’s own life disappears.

This is followed by normal cycle of rest and sleep and a better response to the needs of the family. Family and friends are beginning to appreciate the effort invested in treatment. New interests develop and a new circle of permanent friends is gained. Ideals and courage to face life circumstances are reborn.

Strengthened emotional control helps living your values. This is usually followed by the first steps towards economic stability and employer trust. People who used to be in trouble begins to worry about their appearance again and take pleasure in sobriety.

With the continuation of group therapy and other types of professional help comes the recognition of rationalizations and the increase of tolerance. As the last stage of the treatment, an interesting and enlightened way of life opens up, with greater possibilities than before.

Stages in addiction treatment

Addiction diseases: alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling and others usually develop in stages.

The stages of alcoholism have many similarities with the stages of development of other addictions, therefore the Jellinek curve is significant because it has been adapted and is also used to treat other types of addiction.
It is generally divided to follow 3 major stages in the development of addiction:
Crucial stage
The stage when the addict begins to lose control due to their addiction. In the case of alcohol, it is the transition from the stage where one occasionally drinks at gatherings to the stage where one drinks to alleviate difficult feelings. Social contacts become increasingly avoided due to longer and longer periods of intoxication. The feelings of shame and guilt become more frequent.
Chronic stage
The lowest section of the curve illustrates the cyclical nature of addiction and the compulsiveness of alcohol (drugs, gambling, etc.) abuse patterns. This is the section of the curve which shows that external support is really needed for an addict to start treatment. Support network includes family member(s) or a close friend as treatment sponsor.
Rehabilitation (only if treatment is started!)
The path of recovery begins with an authentic desire to seek help for your problem.
Typically, if help arrives and treatment begins, self-esteem is regained, new relationships and a support network are forged.
This realistic look of Jellinek’s curve, which first declines and then inclines, is a good motivation for everyone who is starting addiction treatment.

Addiction treatment motivation

Jellinek’s curve is like a cost-benefit analysis. Thanks to it, the addicts can understand what they have lost in their life due to addiction. Also what are the risks or consequences if they continue to drink, take drugs, gamble … And they can also see the benefits of abstinence and addiction treatment.

This curve even visually helps in educating the addict (but also family members!) to understand the stages of addiction and recognize exactly where they are in terms of that. And to successfully trace their recovery–may it be alcoholism treatment, gambling treatment or similar.

The real motivation from Jellinek curve comes from the fact that it shows that everyone has the potential to treat their addiction, although they may not feel that way when they hit rock bottom.

And that every treatment actually starts with a sincere search for support to get out of the vicious cycle.

If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lorijen Center. As an addiction clinic we are there for you. Contact us at addiction@lorijen.center 



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