Addiction is not a disease that appears overnight and begins with the voluntary act of taking drugs. However, although choice plays a part in the initial stages of drug use, as time goes by and dependence develops, the need to use becomes a compulsion. The long term damage to brain function caused by drugs can reduce a person’s ability to abstain from using, even when the consequences have completely disrupted their lives.
Such is the damage done to both physical and mental health by drug addiction that the prospect of overcoming it can be extremely daunting to sufferers. Once using has become a compulsion and the person has no control over their habit, people often retreat or withdraw into themselves making their drug abuse harder for others to detect.
Can drug addiction be treated?
The short answer is yes but the actual process can take some time, depending on the level of addiction and other factors. It is not a case of simply detoxing and being able to walk away from a physical addiction to a substance, as its influence runs much deeper. There are always multiple layers to addiction that vary from person to person, which is the reason why assessment and evaluation are the first priorities of drug treatment centers.
In many cases, people can be suffering from a co-occurring mental health disorder, referred to as dual diagnosis patients. Sometimes a mental illness such as depression or anxiety can pre-exist addiction, whereas in other cases a mental illness has been caused by the addiction itself. Irrespective of the background of dual diagnosis patients, they require specialist treatment that addresses both conditions separately while at the same time.
The objectives of drug addiction treatment are as follows:
- Achieve continued abstinence
- Remain drug-free
- Become productive at home, work and in society
What are treatments for drug addiction?
There are several approaches to effectively treating drug addiction including:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and behavioral counseling
- Medication and medical devices or apps used to either treat difficult withdrawal symptoms and deliver skills training in rehab
- Regular evaluation and assessment to ensure appropriate delivery of treatment for each patient and also to identify progress in treating co-occurring conditions
- Long term follow-up and aftercare for relapse prevention and support
A structured program will usually be tailored to the individual needs of the patient and will include community or family-based elements to provide support in recovery. The treatment methods chosen for patients are crucial to the success of the program while in a drug treatment center and also for the years in recovery.
How are behavioral therapies used to treat drug addiction?
Behavioral counseling can be extremely beneficial in professional addiction treatment in terms of promoting personal growth. Methodologies such as cognitive behavior therapy or CBT are helpful in allowing patients to explore their negative behaviors and find ways of replacing them with positive responses.
Behavioral therapies help patients in drug treatment:
- Modify and adapt attitudes towards drugs and the behaviors driving substance abuse
- Increase participation in healthy pursuits, learning valuable life skills to assist in recovery
- Persist with treatment once they’ve left the addiction treatment facility
Most behavioral therapies involve individual and group counseling sessions which are invaluable in creating a solid support network in recovery. Therapists use guided discussions to encourage patients to explore their feelings and emotions and understand how they correspond with their behavior. Understanding this relationship enables patients to adapt behaviors to promote more positive thought processes and choices.
Ongoing Aftercare Ensures Effective Recovery
Once someone has successfully completed an addiction treatment program, it is essential that they continue to attend regular therapy sessions and take any prescribed medications they are required to. The majority of rehab centers provide comprehensive aftercare services that continue to support patients when they have returned to their daily lives following rehab. It is as important for individuals to commit to aftercare as it is to rehab in order to minimize the potential for relapse.
Ongoing aftercare is also valuable in maintaining someone’s support network when in recovery, with group and individual therapy sessions. Keeping in contact with others who have experienced addiction issues themselves can provide a lifeline for recovering addicts when faced with triggers in their daily lives.
Although drug addiction can be a chronic condition that is capable of causing extensive and long-term physical and mental damage, it is also eminently treatable. The duration of a treatment program will depend entirely on the length of time an individual has been using, the drug or combination of drugs they have used and other factors such as age and physical health. Because thorough assessment of each patient is the first priority of rehab centers, taking place in the first days after admission, it is possible to devise the most appropriate treatment approaches on a case by case basis.