Drug Addiction Treatment Basics

Drug addiction is a very complex disease caused by a person’s dependence on drugs. The person initially takes the drug voluntarily but after repeated use over a period of time, it becomes more an involuntary thing. The intake becomes compulsive and uncontrollable mainly because of the effect the drugs have on the brain. By interfering with the chemicals inside, drugs trick the person to keep taking them in order to feel normal. For example, initially, drugs cause you to feel happy and energetic but eventually they disorient you and give rise to many side effects. In addition to those, if the addict does not take drugs then he will be unable to function properly.

Breaking the addiction isn’t simply stopping the intake of drugs. There are many withdrawal symptoms that cause abusers to relapse to end the pain. These symptoms include, but are not limited to, nausea, depression, panic, shaking of body, difficulty breathing, tightness in chest, diarrhea and in severe cases, heart attacks, strokes and even death. So as these symptoms start showing effect, the person has no choice but to take the drug again, and not only must he continue taking them but he also needs to take it in larger amounts and more frequently as he develops a tolerance for it.

It may seem like an unsolvable problem but it isn’t. There are many rehab centers to help with the process. They start with detoxifying the abuser’s body to rid it of the drug present in it. Medication is given to help ease the pain of the withdrawal, in some cases it is also given to prevent relapse. Such facilities advise patients to take residence so that they are in the presence of doctors and therapists 24/7. It also helps because it is impossible to access drugs and one is able to avoid all temptations. Away from the stress and worries of life, patients are able to focus on their recovery.

The key is to stay for at least three months as the process isn’t purely a physical one but also a psychological one. Therapists are present for that as well as to help with any other mental disorders the person might be having. Disorders like depression and anxiety are often the cause for drug use, so treating them help to prevent the person from relapsing.

There are two types of main therapies that are used: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational enhancement therapy (MET). CBT is mainly about controlling negative thought patterns and preventing destructive behavior, as well as identifying triggers and coming up with better ways to deal with them than turning to drugs. MET is where a therapist helps the patient come up with the motivation necessary to deal with the treatment and stop relying on drugs. In addition to these, there are traditional 12 step programs and nontraditional rehab programs which constitute the main part of the treatment.

Drug addiction is a threat not only to the individual but also to the society as it increases crime rates, domestic violence and a decrease in productivity. But the best way to deal with it is getting treatment early on.

Drug addiction treatment

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.


Treatment Approaches


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.


Behavioural Therapies


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:

  1. Group Therapy. This type of therapy aids the recovery process and teaches the addict how to deal with personal and unresolved issues.
  2. Cognitive therapy. This teaches the addict how to recognize and avoid situations in which they may find themselves pressured or wanting to take drugs.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.


Post rehab


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 way to end 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.