Options For Drug Addiction Treatment

Drug addiction is a condition that has plagued so many families and has reached a point where there is a need to put our best efforts in order to fight it. The war against drugs is a huge call to everyone to participate in preventing the spread of the “disease”, and may have somewhat affected the drug trade in several countries.  Coming up with stricter laws to prevent illicit substances from further harming individuals and families should be a continuous move.

The Real Score on Substance Abuse

In recent years, the U.S. has been confronted with so many drug-related incidents involving the youth. According to the latest Monitoring the Future Survey of drug use and attitude, there has been a decline in substance abuse among 8th, 10th and 12th graders. However, it is not enough reason to rejoice over the decline as there are other incidents that have affected several lives because of drug use.

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) documented at least 35 incidents of school violence committed under the influence of psychiatric drugs.

It is more painful to see the deaths of so many innocent lives where users would randomly shoot at people or run them over because of being intoxicated with alcohol or illicit drugs. Apart from having law enforcement authorities on full alert with regards to drug trading and keeping a watchful eye on users, several government agencies and non-government institutions have put their best efforts in extending help in terms of dissemination of information about the effects of drug misuse on individuals and the society as a whole. Programs are also being conducted to help those who need to recover from drug addiction.

The Drug Rehabilitation Process

It is the goal of any rehabilitation institute to provide the utmost medical care needed by a recovering drug user. We know that there are specific medications given to individuals who have involved themselves with different kinds of drugs. While these can be helpful, it is still best that a rehabilitation program should be individualized to best suit the needs of the patient.

The whole process of recovery may be a daunting time for the patient, knowing that the initial stage of the process will also involve a series of painful withdrawal symptoms.

However, apart from completely helping to get rid of the illicit substances in the body, another part of the recovery program is aimed towards the psychological health of the patient. In this case, the mind is slowly programmed to get back to the old self and regain confidence and self-worth, with the help and support of family and friends.

The road to recovery means lifelong commitment and dedication. It may not be an easy path but it will be definitely rewarding to be able to achieve the goal of gaining back the life that was lost.

Key Elements Towards Drug Addiction Recovery

An effective treatment plan for drug users may vary depending on the kind of substance abused, as well as the degree and duration of misuse. However, the process towards any recovery plan contains the following basic components:

1. Finding the Right Rehabilitation Center

There are a lot of rehabilitation centers all over the country. Recovering addicts or their loved ones should be able to find the right treatment facility that can provide the support needed, based on the specific needs of the patient.

Initially, the rehabilitation center will provide some diagnostic screening to be able to determine the most optimal treatment plan for the patient. Every detail should be presented: the type of substance used, the amount of substance used, and the length of time that the patient has been using the substance.

The center should be informed about the family history to be able to establish the root cause of addiction. From this information, the treatment facility and the patient’s family should be able to discuss financial arrangements.

It is important that the patient, with the help of the family, will be able to find the right program that can best help him/her. Once he/she feels comfortable to whatever has been presented, then it is more likely that the patient can live a life good health and sobriety.

2. Detoxification

Detoxification is the process where the abused substance is taken away from the patient’s system. It is not an abrupt process since during this stage the patient may experience withdrawal symptoms ranging from mild to unfavorable.

Medication is usually given to ease the withdrawal symptoms, and this may include opiate prescription drugs and heroin. These same drugs are commonly misused, but if given under direct supervision by a doctor, it should be able to help and not aggravate the patient’s condition.

Withdrawal is the stage wherein the patient may experience unfavorable symptoms due to insufficient amount of drugs that he used to take, in which case the body may no longer be accustomed to the decrease in substance intake.

Withdrawal symptoms appear within the first 24 hours after the last drug misuse. Symptoms may include:

  • Agitation
  • Cramping
  • Decreased appetite
  • Extreme depression
  • Loss of concentration
  • Muscle tension and pain
  • Headache
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Trembling
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack

Detox Medications

Medications are often given to drug users to help them overcome painful withdrawal symptoms. The drugs to be prescribed will depend on the type of substance used by the patient. The need for these drugs to complete the process is highly important because it is through these medications that the patient will be able to slowly keep up with the normal way on how the bodily systems should work.

  • Barbiturates: These are mild sedatives that help in relieving irritability, anxiety and discomfort. It may also prevent seizures during the detoxification process.
  • Benzodiazepines: These are anxiolytics that are commonly used during alcohol detoxification to help reduce seizures, relieve anxiety or depression, and decrease the severity of withdrawal symptoms.
  • Buprenorphine: This drug is used to treat heroin and opiate prescription medication. However, this was later on replaced by methadone due to the latter’s inability to produce a euphoric feeling.
  • Methadone: This type of drug is given to ease patients who have severe drug addiction problems. The dose is slowly lessened as the process progresses to prevent from being addicted to this drug.

3. Psychological Therapy

After undergoing the detoxification process, the patient is moved to therapy wherein the focus is towards behavior. It is a known fact that drug addiction does not only affect the patient’s body, but also largely alters brain functioning to cause impairment in decision-making and other brain activities.

To help patients slowly get back to their normal selves, therapy (which can be individual or with a group) is suggested to the patient.

Psychological therapy focuses on letting the patient realize and confront any existing problems that may have led him/her towards drug addiction. From there, the individual should be able to overcome addiction and have a better perspective about life.

The therapy is not for the patient alone; some programs may include the family as part of the process. It is also important that the family participates in the “healing process” as they have also suffered with their family member’s drug addiction. This can be a great way to speed up the recovery of the patient.

4. Recovery and After Care Program

Therapy may sound like the end of the rehabilitation program, but some people may have to deal with a lifelong journey of trying to keep sober. There is always a possibility for a relapse most especially if the patient does not stay away from people who may have influenced him to take drugs.

For those who are willing to go on a straight path towards recovery, after care programs may help. These programs involve having weekly visits at the rehabilitation centers, conducting regular drug testing, or even allowing recovering individuals to stay at a sobriety clinic for them to participate in group sessions. These programs may also include doing chores until they feel that they can start living normally outside the facility.

Drug Addiction Treatment Options

There are various treatment options available for drug users who opt to recovery from their addiction.

Inpatient Recovery Programs

This may be the most effective kind of treatment program as patients with co-occurring disorders may be treated. Treatment facilities offer a 24-hour intensive medical care under strict medical supervision where health professionals provide simultaneous care for any co-occurring medical and or mental health conditions.

The inpatient treatment includes:

  • A structured program where patients remain in the facility from 6 to 12 months with the entire community and highly-skilled professionals who will positively influence patients towards having a drug-free kind of life.
  • Short-term residential treatment is the detoxification and initial counseling provided to a drug user, and is offered in preparation for community-based treatment.
  • Recovery housing or sober living homes are offered to patients who have completed the program and are being prepared to face the outside world. This is made possible by providing short-term housing for patients to aid them in making the transition.

Inpatient facilities may be in the form of a hospital or a residential facility. Some residential facilities may offer more than what one can expect like living in a luxurious home (resort-like facility) or an executive set-up (where businessmen are allowed to continue with their involvement with their work while being treated inside the facility).

Outpatient Behavioral Treatment

Some individuals may not require full-time recovery process to be placed in an inpatient treatment setup. They are given schedules on when to check in with their facilitators to check on their progress.

Initial treatment may require frequent visits weekly. After completing the initial stages, the treatment may require fewer meetings per week with shorter hours per session.

This type of program is also given to patients after the detoxification process wherein psychological assessment and rehabilitation is given. This may involve individual or group counseling which may include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy: According to the Psychiatric Clinics of North America, this is a very effective means of helping individuals with substance abuse.
  • Motivational interviewing: This encourages the patient to fully surrender the addiction and to start rebuilding his life.
  • Motivational incentives: These encourage the patient to focus on what motivates him to become better and to completely stay away from drugs.
  • Multidimensional family therapy: This is a great way of involving the whole family for the recovery process.

A 12-step program may be suggested to help patients to fully recover by being with the same individuals who have gone through the same predicament and be able to help one another overcome their addiction completely.

Some of the well-known support groups include the following:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA): A support group for people who are recovering from alcohol addiction.
  • Narcotics Anonymous (NA): This is similar to the Alcoholics Anonymous support group, but focuses on people who are recovering from drug addiction.

Meanwhile, specialized drug recovery support groups that have adapted the 12-step program include Cocaine Anonymous and Heroin Anonymous.

Treatment for Drug Abusers and Addicted Individuals Involved in Crimes

Individuals who have been out behind bars and are simultaneously given help to recover from addiction have less likelihood for a relapse because the individual is able to consistently go on with the program and become more focused on aiming for a renewed life than those who are not under any legal conditions.

It has been reported that those individuals who took the program while completing the required jail term are more likely to continue the program and have better chances of complete recovery.


It should be emphasized that drug addiction is a treatable and recoverable condition. Individuals should just be willing to give up on the addiction and start facing life again.

In order to have a successful treatment program, a person should look for the best drug treatment facility that can best suit his needs, and follow the program that has been tailor-made to fit with his drug addiction problem. Recovering addicts must also undergo a continuous aftercare program that will help them in seeking solutions to problems that have lead to addiction, in realizing what they can do to make life worthwhile, in rebuilding their lives and broken relationships, and in avoiding a relapse.

It is never an easy journey for these drug users to completely get back to their usual lives. However, with the support, love and care of family members and friends, the bumpy road may just be worth the trip.

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