How to Treat Drug Addiction
Learn how to treat drug addiction and find much-needed support during the process
Drug addiction is a chronic disease characterized by compulsive, or uncontrollable, drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences and changes in the brain, which can be long lasting. These changes in the brain can lead to the harmful behaviors seen in people who use drugs. Drug addiction is also a relapsing disease. Relapse is the return to drug use after an attempt to stop. Learning how to treat drug addiction is a good starting point.
The path to drug addiction begins with the voluntary act of taking drugs. But over time, a person's ability to choose not to do so becomes compromised. Seeking and taking the drug becomes compulsive. This is mostly due to the effects of long-term drug exposure on brain function.
Addiction affects parts of the brain involved in reward and motivation, learning and memory, and control over behavior, therefore, it's fair to say that addiction is a disease that affects both the brain and behavior.
How to treat drug addiction is not simple, and is not always a stress-free path. Because being addicted means suffering from a chronic disease, people can't simply stop using drugs for a few days and be cured, without proper drug treatment programs.
Most patients need long-term or repeated care to stop using completely and recover their lives.
While no single treatment is right for everyone or works the same way, successful drug treatment programs have several steps that address all of the patient's needs, and not just the drug use. These steps include:
- Detoxification (the process by which the body rids itself of a drug)
- Behavioral counseling
- Medication (for opioid, tobacco, or alcohol addiction)
- Evaluation and treatment for co-occurring mental health issues such as depression and anxiety
- Long-term follow-up to prevent relapse
Often, much more difficult and time-consuming than recovery from the physical aspects of drug dependency is psychological addiction.
How to treat drug addiction and/or how to start and manage a recovery process varies depending on the circumstance. For people who may have less severe drug use disorder, the symptoms of psychological addiction may be able to be managed in outpatient drug treatment programs for addiction.
However, those who have a more severe addiction, have relapsed after participation in outpatient programs, or who also suffer from a severe mental health condition might need the elevated level of structure, support, and monitoring provided in an inpatient drug treatment center, often called "rehab."
Following such inpatient treatment, many people with this level of drug use disorder can benefit from living in a sober living community, that is, a group-home setting where counselors provide continued sobriety support, structure, and monitoring on a daily basis.
Detox helps the individual overcome the physical aspect of drug abuse and addiction by allowing the body to be cleansed of harmful drug toxins. Often painful and potentially life threatening, it is important to assess the subject's condition to determine if medically assisted detoxification is necessary. In medically assisted detox, medical personnel with high expertise in these drug treatment programs, administer medications that manage withdrawal symptoms. This makes the detox process less painful for the addict and allows the body to be slowly weaned off the substances of abuse.
Counseling is the second step in how to treat drug addiction in a successful way, because it gives the individual a chance to explore the root causes of their problem, and better understand the "triggers" that led to drug abuse and addiction. Individual, group or other specialized forms of counseling and therapy are common in rehabilitation facilities and programs. This is where the true work of recovery takes place, as the addict gets to the reasons behind their addiction. Once those reasons are addressed, the addict can learn to manage their triggers and truly progress in recovery.
Finally, aftercare programs help the individual make a smooth transition back into life after treatment. This may include placement at a sober living facility, drug testing, meeting with a behavioral health counselor, or other regularly scheduled outpatient services.
To learn more about the different types of addiction treatment, including residential rehab, outpatient addiction treatment and holistic drug programs, call now (201) 620-9157, Experts can help you or your loved one get back on track and on your way to a healthy life.