Addiction is a potent problem across the USA. Data from the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics suggests that 11.7% of Americans aged 12 and above use illegal drugs.
The road to drug addiction begins with a voluntary act. However, people tend to become increasingly reliant on substances over time. The act of seeking and using narcotics turns compulsive, partly due to how they affect brain function.
Fortunately, it is possible to rehabilitate drug users and place them on a path to full recovery. But achieving this is more complex than it seems. Addiction is a chronic illness, not a lack of willpower. It takes more than just a few days of abstinence to overcome it completely.
That’s not all. While addiction recovery is often seen as a personal experience, it impacts the patient’s friends and family. In fact, addiction is a leading reason couples split up in the U.S.
If your friend or loved one is an addict, you may want to help them get better. Here are six things to know about addiction treatment and recovery to get you started.
6 Things About addiction treatment
1. Addiction is Not Always Visible
Society still holds a caricaturish, stigmatized view of addiction. Addicts are assumed to live on the street, hidden away in dark alleys, only to emerge at night. They are visibly unhealthy, mentally disturbed, and unkempt. This is why a celebrity dying of drug overdose sends shockwaves around the globe.
Truth be told, addiction is everywhere. More importantly, it can happen to anyone, including your child, partner, parent, friend, or next-door neighbor. It’s up to you to educate yourself on the tell-tale signs of drug addiction, so you can help them in time.
A few red flags are as follows.
- Changes in appetite (usually a loss)
- Difficulty engaging in tasks at home, work, or school
- Engaging in risky behavior
- Sudden and substantial weight loss
- Financial issues
- Relationship troubles
- Anxiety or depression
- Losing interest in everyday activities
- Withdrawing from close relatives/friends
- Sleeping problems
2. Addiction Treatment is a Two-Fold Process
As mentioned, addicts cannot recover overnight. Addiction treatment takes time- anywhere between a few weeks to several months. In most cases, it happens in two distinct phases.
A) Detoxification and Medicine-Assisted Therapy
Detoxification is a vital first step in addiction treatment and recovery. When a person consumes drugs repeatedly, they are likely to develop a dependence on them. The body naturally adapts to the presence of the drug and requires it to function as usual.
This is why addicts should not quit cold turkey. Abruptly removing drugs from your system can trigger numerous grave and potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, such as seizures and heart issues. Dealing with these alone may lead to alarming consequences.
Moreover, quitting a drug all at once reduces your tolerance to it. In case you relapse, you’ll have a higher chance of overdosing.
Hence, most drug addiction treatment centers follow a carefully curated detox plan. This typically involves clinical staff administering medicines in slowly decreasing doses based on a specific schedule. The goal is to reduce the patient’s reliance on drugs and restore normal bodily function.
B) Behavioral Therapy
Although essential, detox is not sufficient for long-term recovery. The patient also needs cognitive behavioral therapy to address any medical, psychological, social, vocational, or legal problems that cause the substance abuse. It’s crucial to eliminate the problem at its root to prevent a total relapse. Therapy also helps build self-esteem and healthy coping mechanisms that benefit the patient in the long run.
3. Addiction Treatment Programs Fall into Two Categories
Substance abuse treatment programs generally fall into two categories- inpatient and outpatient. Although both are equally focused on rehabilitation, each takes a different approach. The type of treatment a patient requires usually depends on the severity of their addiction.
- Inpatient Treatment
Also known as residential treatment, inpatient recovery requires patients to check themselves into an addiction treatment facility to overcome their illness. Typically, they’re under constant medical supervision. This treatment model is suitable for patients who require a higher degree of attention or are a threat to themselves/their peers.
- Outpatient Treatment
Patients with mild-to-moderate drug problems don’t always need hospitalization. Instead, they can enroll in an outpatient addiction treatment program. In these, patients visit a treatment facility regularly but are free to go home at the end of the day.
4. Relapse is a Part of the Recovery Process
A relapse happens when a drug-addicted person returns to a life of substance abuse after a brief period of sobriety. While it may seem like an earth-shattering setback, it is fairly common. Statistics show that the relapse rates for substance abuse disorders are between 40-60%. It only indicates you require more or different treatment.
Staying clean is hard, but with a little effort, you can accomplish it. All you need is a long-term prevention plan to remain on the right track.
Relapse prevention is an organized plan involving all areas of a patient’s life that may push them towards a relapse. This includes their immediate surroundings, work environment, and social circles. Implementing the plan and making difficult lifestyle choices will enable the patient to break their addiction for good. Although it is a lifelong commitment, it sure pays off.
5. Families of Addicts Also Need Support
As mentioned, loving someone struggling with addiction can be extremely painful. The ensuing stress can quickly take a toll on your mental health. In such a scenario, support groups may act as a vital resource.
Addict support groups are initiated by a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, or addictions counselor. They may also include other families going through similar hardships, and provide a safe environment for you to heal and voice your concerns. Being in a room with peers can validate your emotional responses and make you feel heard.
If you feel that a loved one’s substance abuse problem is damaging your well-being, do not hesitate to seek help.
6. It Is Never Too Late to Recover
An addiction can last for several years. Many people don’t even realize they have a problem until they hit rock bottom. And, when this happens, it may seem like you have no way to climb up.
Again, addiction is an illness. It changes your biology. Even if you want to quit, it can take over your free will and prevent you from getting sober.
That said, it’s crucial to note that substance abuse disorder is not a death sentence. Moreover, there’s no right time or age to get addiction treatment. You can seek professional help to fight and eventually defeat your demons. All you have to do is accept that you have a problem and seek help. This may be easier said than done, but you will never know unless you try.
The Bottom Line
Addiction is a deeply troubling disease. When left unchecked, it can destroy multiple lives. But the good news is that it is entirely treatable. With your family’s support and proper medical care, you will be able to find your feet and live a clean life.
Here at Peak Health and Wellness, we provide compassionate and supportive outpatient rehabilitation for drug addicts. Our addiction treatment program uses a range of therapies to enable a safe, focused recovery. In case you or a loved one is suffering from substance abuse, feel free to reach out to us today.