There are addictive disorders of all kinds, all of them capable of causing great physical, emotional, social, and financial harm. However, amongst them, drug addictions are some of the most prevalent and, in the cases of powerful drugs like opiates, some of the most potentially fatal.
That doesn’t mean that addiction cannot be beaten. In fact, treatment is essential for breaking out of it. Drug addiction is not easy to get over, but we know the best methods and approaches for treating it.
Acknowledging the Addiction
The fact is that effective treatment of a drug addiction cannot start until the person affected admits it and recognizes the danger that it represents in their lives. This is an essential first step but it sometimes a hard one to reach. Many people express denial over their own addictions and will actively avoid the topic.
By acknowledging the fact that it is doing harm to their quality of life, whether it’s affecting their family life, education, relationships, work, their passions, or otherwise, they have the motivation they need to look at the treatment options available to them.
Options for Drug Addiction Treatment
There are a variety of strategies employed in drug addiction treatment, and many people will undergo more than one at a time. It may also be a life-long plan, with the individual always making an active choice to not take the substance they were addicted to. Changing this habit alone on a life-long basis can be difficult, and they may need to learn mental and lifestyle management techniques to ensure it.
Which options are employed in treating a drug addiction can vary from person to person, based on the type of addiction, the severity of it, health factors, and more. It may involve a dual diagnosis and treatment of any health issues that have arisen as in relation to the addiction. For instance, a doctor may have to treat liver damage related to alcohol addiction and a person who has fallen into an opiate addiction to treat chronic pain may have to learn how to manage that pain without such strong painkillers.
Since no single option for treatment works every individual, everyone fighting an addiction is likely to experience a combination of different approaches and the method of finding which work best can be somewhat experimental. The drug addiction treatment for an individual is also likely to change as the individual moves from one stage of recovery to another.
Here, we’re going to look at several of the steps and methods that are commonly employed for drug addiction treatments.
Usually the first route of treatment in the case of every substance addiction. As the name implies, this is a process of completely eliminating the addictive substance from the body of the individual. When this happens, they will go into withdrawal and experience symptoms that may be painful and generally unpleasant, such as nausea, shaking, headaches, and more.
To ensure safety, a detox is monitored by healthcare staff and in 4 out of 5 cases, they will use medication in order to limit the experience of withdrawal symptoms. For instance, the buprenorphine (or naloxone) provided by Innovative Medicine is used to immediately take patients who are fighting an opiate addiction out of withdrawal symptoms.
While always unpleasant, the majority of withdrawals are relatively safe. Opiate and alcohol withdrawals do bring with them some risk, so it’s essential that the process is carried out with supervision from medical professionals.
The Role of Medication
Medication can be used for a wide range of reasons when undergoing drug addiction treatment. The most common application is during the detoxification process, whether to induce detox or to manage withdrawal symptoms.
However, medication may also be used in the long-term to manage cravings and to assist in gradually breaking the dependence on the substance in question by lowering the dosage. For instance, naloxone and methadone can both be used in the long-term treatment of opiate addictions, ensuring that the person taking them does not turn to dangerous street drugs like heroin.
An individual may also be tested and treated for conditions that might be related to the addiction that they are recovering from. For instance, a person fighting an alcohol addiction may need medication to fight liver damage, with those who have previously injected opiates may receive tests for infectious diseases like HIV, tuberculosis and hepatitis. Medications may also be used in the treatment of mental health concerns that have arisen in relation to the addiction.
Medication is never used as a comprehensive drug addiction treatment. However, when used in combination with therapy, rehabilitation programs, self-help groups and the like, it can prove effective in managing the addiction and its consequences.
Therapy and Counseling
In most cases, therapy and counseling will begin following the detoxification process, after the withdrawal symptoms have stopped completely. There is a range of different types of therapy that might be chosen depending on the needs of the patient. They include not only one-on-one sessions, but group sessions and sometimes couples or family therapy. Some of the most common types of therapy include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy: The most common type of therapy employed, designed to make us more aware of our habits, ways of thinking, and triggers (whether emotional or environmental) that lead to substance abuse and to help us change these habits.
- Group therapy: This offers an opportunity to share our experiences, be heard, and to hear how others are managing their addiction while addressing the issues that contribute to it.
- Psychoanalysis: In the event that past trauma, abuse, and other negative experiences have contributed to substance abuse, psychoanalysis can help address them in a healthy, safe environment:
- Addiction counseling: These sessions can help us change our actions and behaviors regarding addiction by learning life skills, mental techniques like meditation, and by encouraging positive changes with reinforcement and reward.
- Holistic therapy: A whole range of other therapies, including yoga, art, dance, music, and the like can act as a distraction from addiction and provide stress relief that helps resist it.
At the beginning of treatment, therapy and counseling is usually intensive, but may reduce as time goes on. Therapy is also effective for treating stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental/emotional issues that can contribute to addiction or have arisen as a result of it.
Rehabilitation programs cover a wide range of treatment facilities and outpatient services that help people treat drug addictions and integrate back into society, learning how to get back into family, social, professional, and educational life.
There are many different types of rehabilitation programs, and some people may find one type much more effective than the other. They can range from outpatient visits for therapy sessions to 24-care in secluded, safe housing environments. These facilities often provide medical intervention for any health issues that are as well as medically assisted detox treatments.
Short-term residential treatments are primarily there to provide the initial detoxification process and to manage withdrawal symptoms, followed by a period of intensive counseling. After this treatment, some may be able to return to outside life, but many will go on to long-term residential care.
Long-term residential treatments take place in specifically designed therapeutic communities that focus on building the basis of a permanent recovery. Supported by on-site staff and the community around them, people tend to stay in these communities for up to a year, with therapies and routines helping to break addiction and change the behaviors and actions that lead to drug abuse.
Sober living communities may be anything from a single house to a neighborhood that is inhabited primarily by people recovering from addiction and those who are supporting them. It provides access to the outside world, including education, work opportunities, and your family, but in a safe environment where accountability to the other residents can help you stay clean. Sober living communities, also known as recovery housing, reinforces what has been learned through rehabilitation, but also often includes advice and support on managing finances, job searches, handling triggers, and so on.
Self Help Groups
Self-help groups are present throughout almost all forms of drug addiction treatment. They are often incorporated as part of ongoing therapy, present In residential rehab programs, and often formed by sober living communities. Their most important function is addressing the isolation that many people facing an addiction can feel. However, they are also a good place for practical advice, education, and access to resources that can help you get integrated back into society.
Drug addictions are complex disorders that can be difficult to treat. It can be interwoven with a host of emotional and physical health concerns that may have to be treated alongside it, and not every treatment is effective for everyone. However, seeking treatment is always the first and most important step.
If you need help with a drug addiction, get in touch with Innovative Medicine. We provide medical assistance with detox, eliminating withdrawals, and controlling cravings and offer advice on how to complement those treatments with a broader plan that can pave the way for life-long recovery.