Dependence on drugs and alcohol remains a struggle for many. As such, there is always the question of how best to treat this condition. There are many ongoing studies focused on addiction treatment.
The many researches in this field should not come as a surprise. Addiction is a worldwide concern. Additionally, it has also been a problem for thousands of years. Hopefully, we will have more innovative treatments soon.
Before we go on further to talk about treatment, let us briefly discuss addiction.
Drug addiction is a condition that causes compulsive or uncontrollable drug seeking and use. These occur even though there are harmful consequences from using the substance. It involves the use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs. In most cases, short-term treatment is usually not enough. Many individuals require long-term therapy.
As we know, drug addiction causes changes in the brain. These alterations can lead to some of the harmful behaviors seen in people who use drugs.
How does drug addiction begin?
Addiction to drugs usually starts with voluntarily taking these substances. People chose to begin using drugs for many reasons. In some cases, it is due to curiosity. Peer pressure, self-medication, and stress relief are some other reasons people commonly give. Trauma is another well-known reason.
With time, however, your ability to choose becomes difficult. Your choice is harder as you develop tolerance and dependence on the drug.
Tolerance means you need an increase in the amount of a drug to achieve the same effect. It also infers that the effect decreases with continued use of the same amount of the drug.
Continuous use may lead to dependence. This condition occurs when the body adapts to the presence of a drug. As a result, withdrawal symptoms develop when the drug is decreased or stopped.
At this point, stopping on your own is tough due to the effect of the drug on your body. Addiction affects some vital regions in your brain. Some of the areas control reward, learning, memory, motivation, and behaviors.
I guess the question we should first ask is – “Can drug addiction be treated?”
The answer to this is yes. Addiction is treatable.
Treatment is, however, not straightforward. As we know, addiction is a complex condition. You should look at treating addiction the same way as treating a chronic disease like diabetes or high blood pressure.
Treatment needs to be continuous; otherwise, the condition can recur. Long-term treatment is essential for drug addiction to ensure you live in recovery. This process of staying clean from drugs is a journey and does not happen overnight. Hence, the need to remain steadfast.
There are three things drug addiction treatment must accomplish to be successful. These are
It is important to note that there is no single treatment for drug addiction. Also, treatment is personalized. Thus, what works for one person may not necessarily work for you. As such, your treatment must be tailored to you. One size fits all is NOT the mantra for addiction treatment.For addiction treatment to be effective, all the needs of the individual should be considered. Other than drug use, mental health, environment, family issues, and other aspects of a person's life should be reviewed. Click To Tweet
Medically assisted detoxification (detox) is only the first step of treatment. Counseling and other behavioral therapies are the most commonly used forms of treatment. Medications, however, have a role to play as well.
Treatment for drug addiction can be:
Inpatient treatment for drug addiction offers 24-hour care. This treatment is usually quite intensive and structured. It is generally for individuals with more severe disorders.
The length of stay depends on the type of facility. The most common is the 30-day programs. However, some facilities have treatments as long as 90 days, six months, and even one year.
Outpatient treatment refers to programs where people do not stay overnight. Participants attend daily. Many of these programs involve counseling, which may be individual or group. Additionally, some provide medication management.
There are several available treatment options for people struggling with drug addiction. These include:
In most cases, a combination of the above options is necessary for adequate treatment. Proper addiction treatment requires a comprehensive approach.
Behavioral therapy helps modify your drug use attitude and behaviors. As a result, this helps to increase your healthy life skills. Treatment may be done as an individual or in a group setting. There are different types of behavioral therapies.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) helps you understand the relationship between your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Additionally, it teaches you how to deal with your stressors, as well as identify and change your practices. CBT techniques help with negative thinking and cognitive distortions.
Contingency management intervention involves providing incentives in exchange for treatment engagement and abstinence.
Motivational enhancement therapy attempts to initiate a change in behavior. It does this by encouraging people to resolve their doubts about stopping their addiction. Furthermore, it also helps individuals engage in treatment.
Multidimensional family therapy helps adolescents struggling with substance use disorders. It is also beneficial for their families. This therapy addresses the various reasons and influences on teenage drug use. Additionally, it helps to improve the overall functioning of families.
Motivational interviewing makes the most of your readiness to change your behavior. Thus, it helps with getting you to the point where you accept the treatment you need.
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is an evidence-based treatment approach. It involves the use of medications with counseling and behavioral therapies to treat substance use disorders. The goal of MAT is to provide a “whole-patient” approach to treatment.
Medications can help with managing withdrawals and preventing relapse on drugs and alcohol. The use of medications to help with a safe withdrawal is known as detoxification (detox). This process is, however, not treatment as such. Instead, it is only the first step toward recovery. What this means is that relapse is likely if proper treatment does not follow detox.
In addition to detox, medications can help with preventing relapse. They can help decrease cravings and re-establish normal brain function. Medications do not treat addiction to all substances. They are, however, available to treat addiction to alcohol, opioids, and tobacco.
Three medications have FDA-approval to treat alcohol addiction. These are:
The following medications have FDA-approval to treat opioid dependence:
Tobacco dependence has the following treatments:
Medications are helpful in some addiction treatments. However, a combination of medications with behavioral therapies yields better results. Individual and group therapies go a long way in improving the chances of recovery.
There are not many devices available for addiction treatment. The NSS-2 Bridge is an electronic stimulation device. It was approved by the FDA in 2017 to reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms. The NSS-2 Bridge device is placed behind the ear and sends electrical pulses to the brain. This stimulation helps with opioid withdrawals.
Virtual Reality in addiction treatment comes in the form of helping to fight off cravings and learn coping mechanisms. Also, VR helps with practicing recovery techniques, mindfulness, and experiencing a soothing environment.
Virtual Reality for addiction treatment cannot and does not work alone. The implications and limits of this technology are still under exploration. Thus, VR is seen more as an experimental treatment. So far, though, some studies have shown it may offer more good than harm.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) does not have the approval to treat addiction to drugs or alcohol. At least, not in the United States.
Does this mean there is no place for TMS in addiction treatment?
No. Indeed, TMS has a place in treating dependence on drugs and alcohol. Many people who struggle with illicit substances also have an underlying mental illness.
Thus, treating mental illness in this population is vital. This situation is where TMS has a role. Depression, anxiety, and OCD are common mental disorders that improve with this therapy.
In 2018, the FDA cleared a mobile medical application (app) for opioid use disorder. The reSET-O app is a prescription cognitive behavioral therapy. It is helpful when combined with other treatments. It helps increase retention in outpatient treatment programs.
Co-occurring disorders refer to an individual having a combination of an addictive and mental health disorder. Mental conditions can contribute to your struggles with addiction. Thus, it is crucial to treat such disorders.
Failure to treat mental health conditions can make recovery difficult. Additionally, it can make you more likely to relapse after treatment. Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, OCD, and post-traumatic stress disorder are relatively common disorders.
There are various medications available to treat these conditions. Antidepressants, anti-anxiety, and several other medications are helpful. Also, there are newer treatments, such as Spravato and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.
What you do after your addiction treatment is crucial for your recovery. Failure to get proper care and support after treatment can lead to relapse. Hence, the importance of appropriate discharge planning from treatment.
Treatment facilities usually make arrangements for you before your discharge. This aftercare may include step down to a lower level of care, follow up with a psychiatrist, counseling, and attending support groups.
People who follow up with their aftercare program are more likely to remain sober. On the other hand, failure to do so can quickly lead to relapse. Recovery from addiction is a journey and requires continuous effort. It is important to remember this.
Support from family and friends is also essential. A supportive environment can make all the difference between being sober and relapsing. Additionally, there are many support groups available to join. Some can be found on the various social media platforms. For example, Inspiring Addiction Recovery is a free Facebook Tribe that offers support, tips, and resources.
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The entire content of AddictionBlueprint, including content on drugs and alcohol, medications, therapies, facilities, spotlights, recommendations, and other features is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This does not constitute a physician-patient relationship. Please seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers regarding your addiction, mental and medical issues.
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