Almost no one who is addicted to drugs starts off with the desire to become hopelessly hooked. They likely believe they’ll try it just once or a few times, and that no matter what happens, they are in control and can stop anytime they want to. But when repeated drug use changes the brain’s chemistry permanently, that’s exactly what happens. Once addictive drugs take hold of a person’s brain, what was once voluntary becomes involuntary and uncontrollable.
Drug addiction, the physical and psychological dependence on a substance, affects many people in the United States regardless of age, race, gender, or demographic. A drug addiction can be classified as an addiction to alcohol, prescription medications, or illicit drugs.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 21.7 million people aged 12 or older in 2015 needed substance use treatment in the past year. However, only 2.3 million people actually received it.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines addiction as a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. Long-term drug use can harm a person’s memory, learning ability, judgment, and decision-making, and cause them to seek out and take substances in ways that are out of the person’s control.
Not everyone who uses drugs will develop an addiction to them. There are factors that increase one’s chances of being addicted to drugs. Family history, early drug use, and existing mental health disorders are just some that contribute to the likelihood that addiction can occur.
People have all sorts of reasons why they use and abuse addictive substances. Some people pick up a drink or a drug to fit in or to relieve stress, anxiety, or depression. This is also a form of self-medicating, especially in cases where the user has a mental health disorder. Experimenting is a popular reason, but there are people who misuse a drug because they can. This is common in situations where opiate- or opioid-based prescription drugs are involved. Boredom, loneliness, access, and availability are also reasons people seek out drugs and alcohol.
While it is not impossible for people to hide their physical or psychological to drugs, there are revealing ways to tell if someone is struggling with drug addiction and might need to consider drug rehab treatment. While much depends on the person and what kind of drug or drugs are abused, a person’s behavior can give off clues that addiction is a problem. There are plenty of damaging stereotypes out there about what kind of person uses drugs and what they look like. But such generalizations are dangerous and misinformed. Not everyone will fit the “junkie” profile. People who battle drug addiction come from all walks of life.
Behavioral symptoms that could be warning signs of drug addiction include but are not limited to:
A variety of legal and illegal substances can lead to drug addiction, especially if the person also struggles with addiction to alcohol. Problematic drinking and alcoholism, also known as an alcohol use disorder, can lower a person’s inhibitions and increase their chances of trying new illicit drugs or substances they do not have prescriptions for while under the influence.
The U.S. public health crisis involving opioid pain relievers is a clear example of how prescription medications are still drugs that can be dangerous and deadly. It is estimated that there have been more than 600 million drug overdoses since 2000, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Data also show that 91 Americans die from an opioid overdose, which includes prescription pills and heroin, every day.
Negative stereotypes and stigmas stop so many people from seeking out professional drug rehab treatment. That is a mistake. Drug and alcohol addiction are leading causes of preventable deaths, so getting help at rehab should be encouraged. Still, because many believe that ending an addiction is simply a matter of willpower (or not ending it means there’s a lack of willpower), many people will not get the help they need.
Once drug use has reached a certain point, it is no longer a matter of simply quitting substance use. Once a high tolerance or dependence on drugs has been established, users may experience addiction withdrawal when they abruptly stop taking drugs. This experience can be painful, uncomfortable, and dangerous to their health, especially if they quit using. Quitting a drug suddenly is highly discouraged.
The strong pull of drug addiction is extremely difficult for users to fight alone. But they don’t have to. There are help and hope. Seeking treatment at a drug rehab involves intervention from clinical professionals who are trained to effectively treat addiction and guide users to recovery and sobriety.
Substance abuse treatment is highly recommended to treat substance use disorders and drug addiction. Receiving help at a licensed treatment facility can help recovering users stop using drugs, remain drug-free, and be productive members at home, work, school, and in society.
Inpatient treatment, which is also called residential treatment at some facilities, is widely accepted to be an effective addiction treatment for clients with severe conditions. In this arrangement, people live on-site at a facility for 24-hours for at least 30 days or longer so they can have the time and space to focus on the underlying causes of their addiction and learn strategies to help them improve their lives.
Outpatient treatment provides the most flexibility to clients. They can design their recovery treatment around their schedules so they can still take of personal responsibilities, such as for a job, school, or household. Intensive outpatient treatment (IOP), another kind of outpatient treatment, is ideal for people who are of sound physical and mental health and at low risk of having a relapse. They also are comfortable participating in group sessions and in group settings.
Both kinds of care should take the needs of the person into account as the recovery program is being designed.
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The National Institute on Drug Abuse outlines the components of a successful drug rehab plan. Some of those are:
This ensures all drugs and toxins are out of the system. The process is monitored by a medical professional to ensure clients stay safe during the withdrawal period.
Behavioral counseling or therapies
(Cognitive-behavioral therapy, dialectical therapy). Such therapies help clients change their attitudes and behaviors that stem from their drug use. These can include individual, family counseling, or group counseling.
Evaluation and treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders
(Depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder). Drug rehab services that treat both a mental health disorder and drug addiction together at the same time are found to be effective.
Proper administration of medicines can help track and manage recovering clients’ withdrawal symptoms, help prevent relapse, and treat any co-occurring mental health disorders.
Long-term follow-up programs that offer support
Relapse prevention, education, and other programs and services help keep people in recovery, focused on their sobriety goals.
Drug rehab programs can be designed specifically to meet and treat the needs of each person as needed. One person’s program may not look like another person’s and that is okay. Professional treatment at a rehabilitation center offers many options to people who need alcohol treatment. Among them are partial hospitalization, residential, and intensive outpatient.
Follow-up care also may involve family therapy and support as well as aftercare programs that can connect clients with 12-step fellowships and alumni programs and other services.
Treatment for alcoholism often involves various types of therapy, including behavioral therapy, 12-step facilitation, motivation therapy, and many others. Addiction treatment can be customized to fit your specific needs. You can even add holistic therapy or attend family therapy sessions as you learn life skills that can prepare you for a sober life.
Detoxing before starting rehabilitation treatment of any kind is essential in ensuring that you enter treatment with a cleansed body and mind.
During the detox process and well into treatment, you will experience clarity and sobriety unlike ever before. See what the world was meant to look and feel like.
Learn Valuable Skills
Part of the treatment process is in gaining valuable life skills that last well after treatment and into the workplace, preparing you for life outside of treatment.
Healing and Relief
While in treatment for drug abuse or addiction, you can heal properly in a safe and inviting atmosphere. Feel relief and separation from the deadly clutches of addiction.
One of the most reported positive outcomes among prior addicts that have gone through rehab is the valuable friendships they made during treatment.
Road to Recovery
The goal of rehab—aside from your immediate health—is to prepare you for life outside the walls of treatment, assisting you out of addiction and into recovery.
SAMHSA. Prevention of Substance Abuse and Mental Illness. Retrieved March, 2018 from from https://www.samhsa.gov/prevention
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, August 30). Understanding the Epidemic. Retrieved March, 2018 from from https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/epidemic/index.html