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Why is Treatment Essential for Addiction Recovery?
Waiting for a person with a drug or alcohol use disorder to hit rock bottom before seeking treatment is incredibly dangerous. Reaching ‘rock bottom’ often has devastating and lasting consequences, including issues with finances, relationships, and health.
This is why it's essential to identify the signs of addiction before it's too late.
The earlier someone with a substance or alcohol use disorder seeks treatment, the better chance they have for a successful recovery.
Inpatient and outpatient rehab centers are the most well-known treatment options for addiction. However, there are also other options available:
- Going to family therapy to unpack the alcohol or substance use problem with a support system
- Seeking support groups to aid in the recovery process
- Finding a holistic treatment plan that incorporates physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health
- Getting traditional counseling to unpack the triggers of alcohol use or drug addiction
When is an Intervention Necessary?
If someone you know is struggling with addiction and has refused treatment in the past, an intervention may be the next step.
An intervention is an attempt to help a loved one overcome addiction. During an intervention, close friends and family of the addicted person encourage him or her to seek help. Staging an intervention is emotional and somewhat risky, but it might also be what convinces the person to seek the help he or she needs.
What is Substance Use Disorder (SUD)?
Substance use disorders (SUD) occur when someone's use of a substance (drug or alcohol) causes health problems or problems at work, school, or home. A common sign of SUD is when someone is unable to stop using a substance despite adverse consequences. Commonly associated terms include substance abuse and drug addiction.
The most common SUDs include:
- Alcohol use disorder — Alcohol is one of the most commonly consumed substances in the world. It’s legal almost everywhere and very easy to obtain.
- Marijuana use disorder — Marijuana is the third most used substance in the United States, after alcohol and tobacco. Marijuana use disorder is similar to other substance use disorders but the long-term effects are less severe.
- Opioid use disorder — Opioids are pain relievers that are generally safe when taken as prescribed by a doctor for a short period. However, they also produce a euphoric high, which makes people misuse and abuse them frequently. Opioid misuse can lead to dependency, addiction, overdose, and even death.
- Stimulant use disorder — Stimulants are a class of drugs that increase alertness and energy, as well as blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing. They include illicit drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine, as well as prescription drugs like Adderall and Ritalin. Prolonged use of stimulants can have significant negative effects, including heart damage, memory loss, and psychotic behavior.
- Sedative use disorder — Sedatives are central nervous system (CNS) depressants that slow brain activity. They are used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. Tolerance and dependence can develop quickly when someone misuses or abuses sedatives.
- Hallucinogen Use Disorder — Hallucinogens produce visual and auditory hallucinations, feelings of detachment, and a distorted perception of time. Most hallucinogens do not cause physical addiction but users may develop a psychological dependence. They can also develop hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD), which refers to spontaneous, recurring flashbacks.
Symptoms of SUD
Signs that may indicate a substance use disorder (SUD) include:
- Feeling that you need to use the drug daily or several times a day
- Intense urges to use the drug
- Spending a lot of money on drugs, even if you can't afford them
- Stealing money from others to obtain drugs
- Needing more of the drug to achieve the same effect
- Taking more of the drug or using it for longer than intended
- Spending too much time getting, using, or recovering from drug use
- Not meeting social or work responsibilities
- Cutting back on recreational activities due to drug use
- Continuing to use the drug regardless of physical or mental harm
- Engaging in risky activities while under the influence
- Failed attempts to cut back or stop using the drug
- Developing withdrawal symptoms after stopping use (nausea, shaking, anxiety, etc.)
What is Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)?
Alcohol addiction, also called alcohol use disorder (AUD) or alcoholism, is a chronic relapsing brain disease that occurs when a person abuses alcohol or their body becomes dependent on alcohol. Despite the negative effects of drinking too much alcohol, someone with alcohol use disorder continues to drink.
Some of the most common risk factors include:
- Overdrinking (12 to 15 or more drinks per week) or binge drinking (more than five drinks per day once a week or more)
- Dealing with a mental health issue, such as anxiety, depression, or schizophrenia
- Facing peer pressure during adolescence or early adulthood
- Having low self-esteem
- Having a relative or a close relationship with someone with alcohol use disorder
Symptoms of AUD
If a person identifies with in any of the following behaviors, it could be a symptom of an alcohol use disorder:
- Inability to limit drinking
- Drinking alone
- Developing a high tolerance that requires more and more alcohol to achieve the same effect
- Responding violently or in anger to drinking-related comments or concerns
- Neglecting self-care, including hygiene, nutrition, and other things
- Lying or making excuses related to drinking
- Neglecting obligations, responsibilities, and recreation including work, school, family, hobbies, and more
- Continuing to consume alcohol despite social, legal, or financial issues
What Treatments are Available for Addiction?
The most common drug addiction treatment options include:
Inpatient treatment takes place at a licensed residential treatment center. These centers offer 24-hour comprehensive, structured care including safe housing, schedules, a substance-free environment, and medical monitoring. The first step of inpatient treatment is detoxification. Then therapy and other services are introduced. The program typically lasts between 30 to 90 days, sometimes longer.
Unlike inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment does not involve 24-hour care. Instead, outpatient programs organize treatment sessions around the patient’s schedule. These programs also vary in length, the types of services offered, and levels of intensity. The overall goal of outpatient treatment is to provide counseling, support, and education in a flexible environment.
A partial hospitalization program (PHP) is the most comprehensive level of care for people struggling with a substance use disorder (SUD) or alcohol use disorder (AUD). PHP is only available outside of an inpatient, outpatient, or residential treatment facility. All of the treatment services take place at the facility. However, patients return home to eat, rest, and sleep.
Detoxification is when the body is adjusting to functioning without drugs or alcohol. When an individual is detoxing, they will also experience minor to severe withdrawal symptoms. Due to this, medical professionals do not recommend detoxing or withdrawing from a substance without proper medical supervision.
You should never quit “cold turkey” because withdrawal symptoms can become very severe. In some cases, seizures and death can occur (depending on the substance).
After someone undergoes addiction treatment, there is always a chance for relapse. So, relapse prevention is used after treatment to help prevent this from happening. Most relapse prevention strategies focus on building cognitive-behavioral skills and coping strategies. Cognitive behavioral skills refer to a person’s ability to recognize their thought patterns, which influence emotions and behaviors.
Meetings & Support Groups for Addiction
Several different groups provide treatment, counseling, and aftercare for people in recovery. Each person may respond differently to each group, so it’s important to research your options and find the best choice for yourself:
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a group that encourages anyone with a desire to change his or her behavior regarding alcohol. AA offers both open and closed meetings. Anyone can attend an open meeting.
SMART Recovery, which means “Self-Management And Recovery Training,” is a peer community that offers support to people struggling with a substance use disorder (SUD). The primary goal of these support groups is to teach people how to move forward after they overcome an addiction.
The Al-Anon program is adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous. It is based on the Twelve Steps, the Twelve Traditions, and the Twelve Concepts of Service. Al-Anon is short for Al-Anon Family Groups. The organization allows relatives and friends of drinkers to provide mutual support by sharing their experiences.
Alateen is similar to Al-Anon, except the community consists of teenagers affected by someone else’s alcoholism. At Alateen meetings, young people share experiences, strengths, and hope to discover effective ways to cope with problems and discuss the difficulties of alcoholism. Members also encourage one another to learn and understand the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.
The 12-step model is considered the standard for treatment by many different facilities and programs. Developed by Alcoholics Anonymous, this program is applied not only to people with drug and alcohol problems but people with all sorts of addictions.
Behavioral Therapies for Addiction
During treatment, whether at an inpatient, outpatient, or partial hospitalization facility, patients also go through a series of therapies. Depending on needs, treatment plans may include a combination of behavioral therapy, medications, interviews, group therapy, and natural therapies (e.g., yoga or meditation).
Common therapies include, but are not limited to:
In terms of substance use disorders (addiction), CBT is especially useful in treating people with co-occurring disorders. This refers to when someone has both a mental health condition and substance use disorder (SUD). The basic principle of CBT is understanding the connection between how you feel, what you think, and how you behave.
Dialectical behavior therapy is a common type of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). It focuses on helping people develop new skills to manage harmful emotions. It also teaches people how to build healthy relationships and reduce conflicts.
Medication-assisted therapy (MAT) involves the use of medications that help reduce the negative side effects caused by detoxification. Doctors may prescribe medicines to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Only certain substance use disorders (SUD) require medications.
Biofeedback therapists help patients control different functions in their bodies. Strategies typically include relaxation exercises, such as breathing training, and other similar practices. If you are struggling with a substance use disorder (SUD) and mental health condition, biofeedback therapy can teach you coping skills to help manage these conditions.
Contingency management (evidence based therapy) is a behavioral therapy that rewards or reinforces a patient when they provide evidence of positive changes in behavior.
Motivational enhancement therapy (MET) focuses on using a patient’s ambitions to build an actionable, goal-oriented recovery strategy. In terms of addiction treatment, it is often used to promote change in problem-drinkers and people abusing substances.
Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) is a short-term psychotherapy treatment that helps people identify and cope with negative feelings and thought patterns. Therapists then help patients replace these thoughts with productive and healthier beliefs.
The Matrix Model is a beneficial framework for those struggling with a substance use disorder (SUD). For example, if you are addicted to a stimulant (e.g., cocaine or meth), this treatment provides techniques that can help you achieve and sustain abstinence. Patients meet with trained therapists to learn critical information about relapse and self-help techniques. They are also monitored for drug use through frequent urine testing.
Experiential therapy is a relaxing therapeutic strategy that involves physical activities and expressive tools. These may include arts and crafts, music therapy, caring for animals, role-playing, and guided imagery. Depending on patient needs, these activities may be beneficial in boosting energy levels and creating healthier habits during the treatment process.
Holistic addiction therapy involves non-medicinal recovery techniques that complement traditional treatments. Holistic therapy helps connect the mind, body, and spirit. Common strategies include meditation, yoga, nutritional therapy, massages, acupuncture, exercise, and recreational therapies.
Addiction Treatment Information