Drug addiction is a form of substance abuse disorder. That means that it is a chronic disorder most commonly identified by compulsive and uncontrollable drug use, even if there are negative or harmful effects.
Long-term drug addiction can lead to long-lasting or even permanent brain changes that can be lead to harmful and dangerous behaviours. Like many other chronic diseases, even after someone recovers from drug addiction and gets sober, they may face relapse, which is returning to use a drug after you attempt to stop using.
Drug use starts as a voluntary choice. It may be due to coercion or peer pressure, but the person has no physical cravings for the drug that causes them to feel compelled to take it.
However, as an addiction develops, a person loses that ability to choose, and drug use becomes compulsive and uncontrollable. For some people, this can happen after just one use, but for others, it is a slower process that happens over an extended period of time.
How long it takes depends on a number of different factors such as genetics and the type of drug in question. The compulsions occur due to physical and psychological changes that happen when a person is addicted to drugs.
The brain and body will adjust to functioning with the substance, so when you take away or stop providing the substance, the brain, and body both feel like it can no longer function properly.
This leads to a person feeling a variety of different physiological and psychological withdrawal symptoms. If withdrawal happens without the guidance of a medical professional, it can be nearly impossible not to use it again, and it can even be dangerous.
Often people with drug addictions cannot even control the compulsions long enough on their own to get to the other symptoms of withdrawal.
No, just because getting over a drug addiction is hard (and near impossible on your own) does not mean that it cannot be treated.
However, because it is a chronic disorder, recovery is not a quick fix. Most people need a long-term care plan, which most of the time includes a stay at an inpatient rehabilitation centre.
Even after the initial sobriety is achieved, a person will most likely have to take an active role in their sobriety most every day for the rest of his or her life.
There are some key principles that have been developed related to drug addiction treatment through scientific research. To summarise these points: while addiction is a treatable disease, there is not one singular treatment that will work well for everyone.
Whatever treatment you end up receiving, you need to stick with it for a long enough time period, it needs to treat all of your needs (not just your addiction), and it may need to be modified over time as people’s needs tend to change while they are in the recovery process.
So, keeping that in mind, here are some of the most effective forms of drug addiction treatment:
There are a few different ways that medical devices and medications can be used to help people with addictions. They can be used to manage withdrawal symptoms, prevent relapse, and treat co-occurring conditions.
Behavioural therapies or counselling can be broken down further into a number of different specific forms of counselling, but all of them have a few common goals: to help patients modify attitudes and behaviours related to their drug use, learn new, healthy coping mechanisms and life skills, and aid other forms of treatment such as medication.
People can partake in behavioural therapies in both outpatient and inpatient programmes. In fact, it is often recommended that even if a person has already gone through behavioural therapy in an inpatient programme, they should continue on with some form of counselling or therapy after they leave.
Examples of behavioural therapies are:
You can find all of these options as individual counselling programmes, or you can find most of those options and more at inpatient treatment centres such as therapeutic communities, short-term residential treatment, and recovery housing.
As previously stated, it is important for someone in recovery to get treatment for any co-occurring disorders along with their addiction.
Generally, this treatment has to start with some sort of evaluation where a doctor and patient work together to figure out what other mental health disorders the patient is dealing with.
This can be done through interviews, surveys, or observation over time. After the evaluation is complete, treatment depends a lot on the individual’s specific disorders.
The patient may need the behavioural therapy explained above, but they may also need other forms of therapy like psychotherapy.
Long-term follow-up and treatment is a key part of most people’s recovery, even if they complete a more short term programme like a stay at an inpatient rehabilitation facility or some form of an outpatient programme.
Long-term follow-up and treatment may look like long-term counselling, mentoring, or entering some sort of support group or recovery programme that is designed to aid people in their long term sobriety.
The relapse rate with drug addiction is high, and it is even higher if a person does not choose to take an active role in their long-term sobriety.
All rehabilitation programmes can be put into two main categories: inpatient rehabilitation or outpatient rehabilitation. There are some programmes that have components of both, but for the most part, you can just split them into those two categories.
There are benefits and disadvantages to both options, which is explained in more detail below, but the most important thing is that you pick the option that works best for you and will most guarantee your long term recovery.
While one person may need the freedom that outpatient treatment allows for in order to even get into recovery in the first place, other people need to be able to get away from all temptation in order to get sober.
Inpatient rehabilitation is the more intense option of the two. When someone enters an inpatient rehab programme, they have to check into a facility for an extended period of time (often a period of either 30, 60, or 90 days.)
During that time, they will have absolutely no access to drugs or alcohol and will be provided with 24/7 treatment, support, and supervision.
This kind of programme allows a person to focus completely on their sobriety and recovery during the beginning phases of their sobriety and learn new, healthy coping mechanisms without the temptation of following into their old, dangerous ones.
For some people, they do not feel like they have the ability to commit to such a drastic plan due to a number of different reasons.
It might feel intimidating to sign themselves into something with so many restrictions; they may have responsibilities that they find themselves unable to get covered for that long of a time or any other number of potential reasons.
For some people, it is simply the cost of an inpatient programme, which keeps them from going because they are often more expensive than outpatient rehabs.
However, despite these potential downfalls, the most important thing to consider about inpatient rehab is that people who complete inpatient have a higher success rate and a lower relapse rate than those in outpatient.
Outpatient rehabilitation is a lot less restrictive. During an outpatient programme, a person can continue to live at home and keep up with some of their day to day responsibilities.
Treatment happens during the day. A person in outpatient will go to a facility probably several times a week for several hours a day to receive various forms of therapy, treatment, and support.
This kind of treatment does offer a person more freedom; however, they still have access to temptations that may cause them to relapse before they have learned new coping mechanisms.
Now, it is important to make note that even if you decide that an outpatient rehabilitation programme is right for you, rather than an inpatient one, it is still important to go through detox in some sort of inpatient setting.
The reason for this being that detox can be dangerous, so while you are going through that process and experiencing the worst of the withdrawal symptoms, you really need medical monitoring and care.
Many traditional hospitals offer detox programmes that you can complete before moving on to an outpatient programme.
Some outpatient rehabilitation facilities will offer these services themselves, and pretty much all inpatient rehabilitation offer medically supervised detox.
As previously stated, long-term support and treatment are key to long-term sobriety because it is a chronic, life-long disease. One of the most popular and most effective forms of long-term treatment is self-help and mutual support groups.
These are long-term programmes where people who all deal with addiction are able to support and encourage each other in sobriety.
Self-help groups are programmes that encourage people to rely on themselves, and their own self-control and mutual support groups encourage people to lean on each other or a higher power. Some groups, of course, promote both ideologies.
Often, certain groups will have a specific curriculum that the people work through while they are a part of the group. Some programmes even match people who are newly sober up with people who have been sober for a longer period of time who can act as a mentor or sponsor.
There are many different programmes out there when it comes to self-help and mutual support groups, so you should be able to find a programme that works for you.
Sometimes, the rehabilitation facility that you use will get you started in a long term support programme before you even leave the facility. The most common group is alcoholics anonymous (AA) or NA, which are twelve-step programmes, but other programmes include:
At Rehab 4 Addiction, we offer high-quality rehabilitation & detoxification services tailored to your individual needs.
To discover your road to recovery, call us today on 0800 140 4690.