Addiction is considered an actual medical condition. Those who become addicted to dangerous substances, such as drugs and alcohol, experienced real changes in their brains, mental functioning, and body systems. Although some people can overcome addiction on their own, it is tough due to the changes that have occurred in the body that create an increased risk for relapse without proper education and therapy to overcome the addiction.
What Is Substance Addiction?
Addiction occurs when a person requires a particular substance, such as drugs or alcohol, just to function normally. Intense cravings occur. Due to changes that have took place in the brain, someone who is addicted cannot resist these cravings, so continue to use harmful substances even if using the use creates negative or harmful consequences. According to statistics provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse:
- About 23.5 million people in the United States abuse drugs to the pint of needing treatment
- Only about 1 percent of those needing addiction treatment receive it
- This means there are more than 20 million people in the United States who need addiction treatment but have not received it
Addiction treatment involves several phases and therapy techniques due to the complexity of this disease. Some of the processes involved in addiction treatment include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Relapse prevention
The detoxification process is the period it takes, usually about a week, for the body to remove the substance from the system and to overcome the withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting drugs or alcohol. Many addiction treatment centers will not accept clients until they have completed the detoxification process. These facilities concentrate their efforts on working with clients when their minds and bodies are free and clear of harmful substances.
The screening and assessment are considered to be the actual first part of the addiction treatment process by many. The evaluation is necessary to collect certain information and in the formation of an appropriate addiction treatment plan. The assessment will also be used to determine if there are any co-existing conditions, such as mental illness, that will make it necessary to treat clients for a dual diagnosis. Health conditions, behavioral issues, and other risk factors will also be taken into account when making the appropriate treatment decisions.
Dual diagnosis occurs when both drug or alcohol addiction and another condition, such as mental illness, exist at the same time. This is important to determine during the assessment process so that both disorders can be treated at the same time. It is quite common for addiction to occur with mental illness, though it is often difficult to determine which disease occurred first. This is because those with mental illness often turn to substances to deal with their symptoms and to feel better. Long-term use of certain to drug addiction can change the brain, leading to symptoms of mental illness. To prevent relapse, it is important to treat both substance abuse and mental illness together as a part of an appropriate addiction treatment plan.
Education about addiction and use of harmful substances is important for clients to understand why there is a problem for them when it comes to substance abuse. Educational information is typically given in group therapy sessions rather than individually.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy has many parts to it and is performed in both group therapy and individual counseling sessions. It is important for those with a substance addiction to identify and correct the issues in their lives that led them to using harmful substances in the first place. Cognitive behavioral therapy is also used to treat life coping skills and stress reduction techniques. This allows people to discover and use other methods of behavior to overcome problems and obstacles in life other than turning to drug or alcohol consumption when problems arise. Harmful thinking patterns are also corrected in this part of addiction treatment.
A large proportion of the cognitive behavioral therapy process is to help those who suffer from addiction get over their denial. This denial could be over the severity of their addiction, their responsibility in their addiction, denial over their responsibility for their drug or alcohol use, among other rejection issues.
To remain free of drugs or alcohol, it is important to have some form of relapse prevention therapy with addiction treatment. This will help those who have problems with addiction to be able to identify and avoid potential triggers, such as people, places, and situations, that could cause a return to substance use or abuse.
It is important for those who suffer from addiction to attend some form of aftercare treatment program. This is often performed in a halfway house setting or as outpatient addiction treatment. Aftercare programs will help as a continuation of care from the addiction treatment received while forming a type of support system while those who suffer from addiction attempt to return to daily life while drug or alcohol-free. The longer a person can attend aftercare treatment, the more likely they can remain free from drug or alcohol use.
Inpatient or Outpatient Treatment
The choice between inpatient or outpatient treatment options will have a lot to do with personal preference, affordability, insurance coverage, and if a person has employment or not. Outpatient treatment can be effective for many people. However, inpatient treatment allows an individual to focus all of their time and attention on recovery without being sidetracked with the struggles of daily living. Whichever choice is made, it is still important to attend treatment and aftercare programming for as long as possible, as this provides the best chance to avoid relapse.