How Is Addiction Treated?
A successful treatment plan should address every factor that leads to addiction including physical dependence, mental or psychological dependence, the outside influences that lead people to addiction and the predisposing risk factors that people can’t control.
The most important step in the treatment process is for the abuser to acknowledge they have a problem and agree to receive treatment. A person is much less likely to succeed in finishing treatment if they are in rehabilitation against their will.
Staging an intervention is a good way to try to make a drug abuser see how their decisions are affecting those around them. An intervention is a structured meeting arranged to convince someone that they should seek help for an addiction. Interventions are not specific to any addiction and can be tailored to address a particular issue.
A licensed professional or counselor is present to facilitate the meeting objectively, lead the conversation and recommend treatment options.
Detoxing from an addiction is an uncomfortable, but necessary stage of recovery.
Detoxification is the time shortly after drugs are no longer in the system and the body is trying to rid itself of the toxins that are leftover. An individual may exhibit a wide range of symptoms including irritability, insomnia, intense dreams, nausea, and depression.
When detoxing, it is recommended that a person is under the supervision of a medical professional to ensure that they are not in any danger. The easiest way to do this is to go through detoxification at an inpatient rehabilitation center.
Rehabilitation centers have medical staff and appropriate medications to decrease the intensity of withdrawal symptoms.
Staying on Track:
The most important step in the journey to an addiction-free life is to stay on track once you’ve started. Having a structured plan with direction from a medical professional and friends, family, or a support group to rely on will keep someone from turning back to alcohol when treatment becomes difficult.
Post-Detox Treatment Options
Treatments for addiction should always be structured by a medical professional and can include pharmacological approaches and behavioral interventions.
There are many prescribed medications that are helpful when overcoming addiction. They are used to subdue withdrawal symptoms and fix the imbalances of the brain.
The medications that are typically used in most addiction treatments include:
Antidepressants: Antidepressants are often prescribed to those undergoing addiction treatment to help fend off the major anxiety symptoms that can occur.
Low-risk Benzodiazepines: An option for overcoming a severe addiction is to temporarily switch to a Benzodiazepine with a lower addiction risk and gradually decrease the dosage.
Pain relievers: Using pain relievers alongside other medications can reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Reducing withdrawal symptoms makes it easier to resist the drug therefore complete detoxification.
Different medications are used to treat different drug addictions, depending on how that drug or substance interacts with the body. A doctor or rehabilitation center should determine an individualized medication plan.
Psychotherapy is a type of behavioral intervention that is led by a mental health counselor and aims to explore the behaviors and feelings that lead a person to drug abuse.
Psychotherapy addresses the external triggers (such as environment and influence) and the internal triggers (such as thoughts and feelings) that lead to addiction.
There are several specific forms of therapy that fall under the umbrella of psychotherapy that can aid those recovering from addiction including cognitive-behavioral therapy, exposure therapy and psychodynamic psychotherapy.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT):
During cognitive-behavioral strategy, individuals identify negative behaviors and learn specific tools of coping with them. A patient works closely with a counselor or therapist to develop effective coping strategies and implement them into daily life.
Some examples of coping strategies include:
- Examining the positive and negative consequences of alcohol in their life.
- Identifying when and where cravings manifest and avoiding those situations.
- Identifying environmental factors that play a role in addiction.
Contingency management interventions/ motivational incentives:
In this type of behavioral intervention, patients are given physical incentives as a reward for progress in sobriety. The physical incentives usually come in the form of a voucher or a prize that is valuable or can be used for food items, movie passes or other goods.
Over time, if a participant continues to abstain from drug use, the incentives increase in value. This method has been proven highly effective in support programs because it gives participants something tangible to work towards.
Support groups have proven to be one of the most helpful methods of therapy treatment. They are often run by rehabilitation centers, churches or independently and are a judgment-free place to openly discuss the struggles of overcoming addiction.
Participants are able to lean on each other and provide encouragement. Some support groups even allow their members to remain anonymous if they wish.
Most support groups, especially narcotics anonymous, use the 12-step program as a structure for treatment. In the 12-step program, users acknowledge that drug use and the consequences that follow is a choice that is in their power to make.
Participants learn to trust in a higher power and have faith that they can reach sobriety. 12-step programs enable participants to imagine a better life for themselves that does not require substance abuse.
Finding a Sponsor
Support groups usually encourage each participant to find a sponsor while undergoing treatment. A sponsor has typically endured treatment themselves but has remained addiction-free for more than 5 years. A sponsor acts as a mentor to the sponsee and provides encouragement, feedback and tips for achieving sobriety.