The word rehabilitation has a number of connotations in our culture.

Rehab has been sensationalized by the number of celebrities who check in for a variety of addictions and face very public struggles. Rehabilitation in its most base form, however, is the act of returning something to its original state. It comes from the Latin term that means, roughly, “make fit again.” People in the home improvement industry can rehab a house. Wildlife centers can rehab the natural habitats made up of native plants and animals. Rehab can also be used for individuals who have been injured so they can recover and return to their lives as normally as possible.

The National Rehabilitation Association (NRA) offers support for people seeking rehab for a number of reasons. It is currently the nation’s largest membership association for rehabilitation professionals. Their members work hard to eliminate barriers for individuals with disabilities and increase employment opportunities in the industry. They provide opportunities for education and advocacy through professional development. If you know someone in the rehabilitation industry, take a moment to thank them for all they do.

The many paths to rehabilitation depend entirely on the condition that needs to be treated. This is why professionals within the industry are an important part of the medical community. In March of this year the U.S. Congress passed a resolution marking March 22, 2014, as National Rehabilitation Counselors Appreciation Day. The idea is to commend and honor the rehabilitation counselors and professional organizations offering support, assistance, and treatment to those seeking help through rehabilitation. While the resolution was passed just a week before the designated day earlier in the legislative session, it does open the door for greater recognition programs to occur in 2015 as a result.

The counselors and professionals in the rehabilitation industry are responsible for helping so many people with so many different requirements. Let’s take a closer look at some of the ways people can pursue rehabilitation.

Physical rehabilitation

For many individuals suffering from the debilitating after-effects of an accident or injury, rehabilitation professionals are the individuals that help restore patients to some level of normalcy. Physical rehabilitation can take the form of physical and occupational therapy as well as pain management. Physical therapy helps people strengthen their body, restore mobility and function, and maintain a level of fitness appropriate for their recovery. Occupational therapists help individuals with their daily tasks and can modify normal activities to meet new criteria.

Besides the NRA, other organizations that can allow individuals to find the help they need to recover from an illness or an injury include:

These organizations can help connect you to professionals, including physical and occupational therapists as well as pain management specialists, who can work with you or your loved ones to achieve the best results in physical recovery.


Rehabilitation from addiction can come in more than one form. There are many substances and behaviors that can become addicting. The most commonly discussed may be addiction to alcohol or drugs, both illegal and prescription. There are similar but different approaches to every rehabilitation process and if you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, there are a number of ways you can find help.

Drug and alcohol addiction

If you or someone you know is affected by alcoholism or a drug addiction help can be just a phone call away. Addiction is complex. Some people are able to drink recreationally without feeling the compulsion to continue drinking until the alcohol is gone. For others, it can be much harder to stop. Sometimes this is related to genetics or to a chemical reaction in the brain. Repeated use of these substances can alter the brain chemistry all together.

Along with the physical effects of addiction, many individuals facing recovery also need help with their mental well-being. Depression can cause a relapse and it is essential that individuals seek out the support that they need both medically and mentally.

If you need help or want to find ways to help someone you care about, here are some resources for drug and alcohol addiction.

Support is necessary for not only the addicted individual but also their affected friends, family, and community as a whole. These organizations have national recognition and can help everyone involved in the process of recovery.

Prescription medications

Some people find themselves addicted to medications, sometimes as a result of trying to treat a painful chronic condition. Opioid medications, which are frequently prescribed to patients dealing with the effects of chronic pain, are highly addictive. It doesn’t take much for the scales to tip and dependence, if not addiction, to occur. However, it is usually not as cut and dry as stopping the medications. There are multiple physical side effects as well as the mental health and stability of the patient to take into consideration.

Like with alcohol, not everyone who takes opioid pain medications, such as Oxycodone or Vicodin, will experience dependence or addiction. Sometimes simply working with a trained pain management professional can stop the cycle of addiction before it starts. However, if you or someone you know is exhibiting the signs of dependence, it may be time to seek assistance. Here are some suggestions.

Patients dealing with the effects of a pain medication addiction can also find help with many of the organizations listed above such as Narcotics Anonymous. It is important that the entire person is treated, not just their pain and addiction. Depression can lead to further complications.

It is most important to know that you do not have to suffer the effects of addiction alone. The support of your family and friends along with trained medical professionals can help you start the journey to recovery. While it can be a long road that is filled with setbacks and frustrations, trying to maintain a positive attitude will be easier with the support of your community and professionals.

What have been your experiences with rehabilitation, whether it was for pain management, physical recovery, or addiction?

Photo by Tania Cataldo via Flickr


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