Getting Treatment for Drug Addiction
Drug addiction affects all different types of people, from kids in high school to professionals in high-paying, corporate jobs. Being addicted can destroy families, friendships, and careers. But you are not alone in your battle to be drug-free. With different types of treatment available, you can join others in recovery and get your life back.
Why Can’t I Just Quit on My Own?You may have already tried to stop using drugs a number of times, only to go back when the craving became too intense. You can become both physically and psychologically addicted. On a physical level, continually putting the drug into your system causes changes to brain chemistry. You may become tolerant and need higher and higher doses to feel the same effect. If you were to suddenly stop taking it, your body goes into withdrawal. Depending on which drug you are addicted to, you may have a range of symptoms—tremors, stomach cramps, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, chills, insomnia, and restlessness. Psychologically, you may feel that you cannot function without the drug, and being stressed may make you want to use the drug even more. Your time may be spent around friends who are also using drugs, which only encourages you to continue the habit. Quitting can trigger an extreme desire for the drug and can lead to feelings of depression, paranoia, anxiety, agitation, and aggression. All of these factors work against you in your fight to be drug-free. Also, you may not just be dealing with the addiction itself, but also with an underlying mental health issue (such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder), interpersonal conflicts, unemployment, and health problems. That is why it becomes so important for you to get professional help.
What Can I Expect From a Treatment Program?Treatment usually depends on what drug you are addicted to and what other problems you are facing. Look for a program that can address all of your issues, views you as an individual, and changes as your needs change. In most cases, you will want a combination of care from medical doctors, psychologists and drug abuse counselors, and case managers.
DetoxTreatment starts with detoxification. Under the care of your doctor, you need to go through a process where you rid the drug from your body. Medication can help ease the withdrawal symptoms. Depending on the drug, these symptoms can last several days, but you still have the long-term changes to your brain function, as well as the psychological effects. While some people think that all they need to do is go through detox to overcome addiction, treatment means a long-term commitment to change your lifestyle and behavior. Detox is just the first step.
Therapy and MedicationIn most cases, treatment involves both therapy and medication. In therapy, you learn how to deal with cravings and how to identify your drug abuse patterns. Are there certain situations where you are more likely to use drugs? What are the best ways to cope with these situations? How can you prevent relapse? If you do relapse, how do you recover?By working with a therapist, you slowly change your thinking and behavior and build skills to sustain a drug-free lifestyle. This also involves working through any underlying issues that you have, like abuse or neglect, which may have led you to using drugs. If you have a dual-diagnosis, such as addiction and depression, you will need to be treated for both conditions, ideally at the same time. Medication also plays a role in your recovery. For example, if you are addicted to heroin, your treatment might involve taking daily doses of methadone, which can help reduce your cravings, increase your chance of staying in the rehab program, and stabilize your behavior. Other medications, like antidepressants and mood stabilizers (for bipolar disorder), may also be prescribed if you have mental health issues. In addition, if you are diagnosed with a medical condition, such as hepatitis B, your doctor will treat this.
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