Drug addiction is an unfortunate condition affecting millions of people across the globe. It is recognized by medical professionals as a serious, but treatable medical ailment.
Different drugs tend to affect individuals differently. That said, addiction remains characterized by uncontrollable or compulsive behavior to the detriment of the individual’s health.
Because each case is unique, no single approach can be taken towards the treatment of drug addiction. Rather, a holistic and comprehensive approach needs to be implemented based on individual requirements.
The treatment of substance abuse is generally determined by the drug/s involved. Treatment may include behavioral therapy, the use of other medications, counseling and/or a combination of these. A doctor, drug counselor or health professional will be able to provide the correct advice as to which treatment program should be undertaken for the best results.
Although medications to treat opiate, alcohol and nicotine addictions have been developed, no such medications exist to treat marijuana, depressant or stimulant addiction. In such cases. It appears as though behavioral therapy is the most successful in treating these types of drug addictions.
Detox and cold turkey
Detoxification is usually the first step in any rehab program. This is the process whereby the body is able to rid itself of accumulated toxins. Certain drugs may require a ‘weaning off’ period and/or a gradual reduction of the drug intake. A key feature of any detox program is that it should be followed by behavioral therapy and/or a supervised regimen of medications.
Beating withdrawal symptoms
For many people addicted to drugs, the symptoms associated with withdrawal can be unbearable. The severity and duration of these symptoms vary from one substance to another. Patients may suffer from any number of conditions; including cravings, sleeplessness, pain, nausea, seizures, headaches, depression and increased irritability. It should be noted that people who wish to recover from severe addictions should consult with a registered medical professional before attempting to do so.
Treating drug addiction with meds
The nature of the addiction will determine which medications are appropriate and at which stage. Medications combating cravings, relapse, mood swings, sleeplessness, irritability etc. may be prescribed. Such medications may also help the recovering addict to focus on treatment related counseling. Medications tend to be more effective when used in conjunction with behavioral therapy.
Stress is frequently to blame for recovering addicts who relapse. Behavioural therapy teaches the individual how to cope with cravings and/or triggers which could potentially cause relapse. Triggers include seeing former associates and friends or being unable to cope with certain situations.
Behavioural therapy can be divided into four categories. These are:
- Group Therapy. This type of therapy aids the recovery process and teaches the addict how to deal with personal and unresolved issues.
- Cognitive therapy. This teaches the addict how to recognize and avoid situations in which they may find themselves pressured or wanting to take drugs.
- Motivational encouragement – recovering addicts respond well to a system of incentives and rewards. For example, failure to attend counselling could mean losing privileges while staying clean could be rewarded appropriately.
- One on one with a counsellor to discuss personal issues and play an active role in the recovery process.
The length of the recovery process is usually ongoing, but it also depends on the individual. When it comes to drug addiction, people may relapse or swap one drug for another. Both prescription medications and illegal drugs can be addictive.
Relapsing does not necessarily indicate the failure of the recovery program. For many drug addictions, a relapse is even expected. With a possible treatment adjustment, the individual can begin the recovery process once again. The longer a patient stays clean, the better the chance of recovery.
It is important that when the addict re-enters society, he or she does so as an active contributor. Securing housing and employment are of great importance, as is taking up a constructive hobby. Although some addicts may never fully recover, many have gone on to lead normal, healthy and happy lives.
There is no easy cure for drug addiction. As tragic as it may seem, the final choice to remain clean depends entirely on the individual. We can encourage, assist, treat and support. If the addict does not have the will and determination to remain sober, then we need to expect the worst and pray for the best. Many addicts are able to achieve lasting recovery by getting help after a relapse and learning from their mistakes.
If you suspect drug abuse from a friend or relative, consult a medical specialist before confronting the suspected user. His or her insights may prove useful at a time when your very approach could be the difference between the success and failure of the recovery process.