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Explaining Drug Addiction

Substance dependency is a chronic illness that is identified by uncontrollable substance seeking and use, regardless of the harmful effects and alterations in the brain that can be permanent. Some people whose brain functions have been altered by drugs display some anti-social mannerisms. Substance dependency is also a relapsing illness. Relapse means going back after some time, to using the substance one had stopped using.


The road to substance dependency starts with voluntarily using substances. However, the mental strength to decide whether to use drugs or not is eroded with time. Seeking out and using drugs becomes an obsession. This is mainly because of the effects of long-term substance exposure on the functioning of the brain. The portion of the human brain that controls human behaviour, learning and memory, and reward and motivation are negatively influenced by addiction.

The workings of the human brain, coupled with human behaviour are altered by addiction.


Is There Treatment For Drug Dependency?

There is, but it is a long journey. Since dependency is a chronic illness, individuals cannot just quit using the substances for a day or two and be cured of it. For most patients, long term often repeated care is needed to help them stop using and continue on to get their lives back.


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Rehabilitation from drug use should result in the patient

  • desist from drug use
  • abstain from drugs
  • be profitable in the family, at work and in the public arena

Principles Behind Effective Treatment

Ongoing scientific research since the 1970s has shown that the following basic principles should be the basis of any effective course of treatment

  • Though a complex brain altering illness, drug dependency can be successfully treated.
  • There is no one treatment that will work for everyone.
  • Treatment should be made available to people whenever they need it.
  • Successful treatment looks at all the needs of the patient, not simply his/her substance use.
  • Going through with the programme is essential.
  • The most frequently used forms of treatment are counselling and other behavioural therapies.
  • Behavioural therapies are often combined with medications, which are another important aspect of therapy.
  • A treatment plan must be evaluated frequently and adapted to suit the changing requirements of the patient.
  • Some other associated mental problems must be taken care of by treatments.
  • Medically assisted detoxification is just the very first step of the treatment.
  • For treatment to be successful, it does not need to be voluntary.
  • During treatments, the use of drugs by the patient must be properly observed.
  • A treatment programme must test a patient for hepatitis B and C, TB, HIV/AIDS and other infectious illnesses and educate the patient about things he/she can do to reduce his/her risk of these diseases.

What Steps Are Involved In Treating Addiction?

Rewarding treatment has a few stages

  • medical detoxification, when the body physically rids itself of the drug
  • Behavioural advising
  • medication (for tobacco, alcohol or opioid dependency)
  • assessment and treatment for any co-occurring mental health concerns like anxiety and depression
  • lifelong follow-up in an attempt to prevent relapsing

Success could be achieved through different types of care that come with customised treatment method and follow-up options.


Both medical and mental health treatment should be utilized as needed. Often, community or family based recovery groups or support systems are used as part of follow up care.


How Is Medication Employed In Substance Dependency Treatment?

Medication can be employed to deal with withdrawal symptoms, treat co-occurring conditions and prevent a relapse.

  • Withdrawal Medicines help in decreasing withdrawal side effects amidst detoxification. Detoxification is just the very first step in the process and not "treatment" in itself. Patient who doesn't get any further treatment after detoxification as a rule resumes their drug usage. The SAMHSA, 2014 study has shown that about 80% of detox programmes use prescription drugs.
  • Relapse Prevention Patients can utilize medicines to help rebuild normal brain functioning and reduce desires. Medication is available for the treatment of tobacco (nicotine), alcohol and opioid (prescription pain relievers and heroin) dependency. Drugs that can counter the effects of enhancing (uppers) like (cocaine, crystal meth) and cannabis (marijuana) are being developed by scientists. Users of multi drugs to fully recover must be treated for each one.

What About Behavioural Therapies And Drug Addiction

Behavioural therapies assist a patient to

  • Change their mindset and conduct towards taking drugs
  • Adopt healthier psychosocial competency
  • Continue with varying forms of treatment like medication

A patient can get treatment in several different environments using different approaches.

Outpatient behavioural treatment involves different programs designed for patients with an organised calendar of regular meetings with a counsellor for behavioural health. The greater parts of the projects include individual or group drug advising, or both.


Other forms of behavioural therapy available in these program include

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy, which teaches patients how to recognize, avoid, and deal with any situation that will make them more likely to use drugs
  • Multidimensional family therapy, which is for teenage addicts and their families to understand all of the factors influencing the patterns of drug abuse and works on improving the family's ability to function
  • motivational interviewing, which gets most of the addicts disposed to work on their behaviour and commence treatment
  • Motivational incentives that work by positively reinforcing like rewards to help the patient's urge for drugs reduce

At first, treatment can be as intensive as multiple outpatient sessions every week. Subsequent to finishing escalated treatment, patients move to customary outpatient treatment, which meets less frequently and for decreased hours every week to help manage their recuperation.


Inpatient or private treatment can likewise be extremely compelling, particularly for those with more serious issues (including co-happening conditions). The around the clock care available at residential rehabilitation centres includes safe boarding facilities and close monitoring of patients. An inpatient treatment facility can make use of different therapeutic approaches and they are usually aimed at assisting patients to lead a substance-free, crime-free life after completing the treatment.


Residential treatment setting samples

  • A therapeutic community that is a very structured programme in which a patient stays at a residence, usually for 6 months to a year. The whole group, including treatment staff and those in recuperation, approach as key specialists of progress, affecting the patient's states of mind, comprehension and practices related with drug utilisation.
  • Also available are short blood cleansing programmes offered at the residential facilities to rid the body of drugs and set the foundation for a longer treatment programme.
  • There are also recovery housing services aimed at giving a patient a place to stay in the short term as they recuperate from treatment in other establishments. Recuperation housing can help individuals make the move to a free life, for instance, helping them figure out how to manage funds or look for business and also interfacing them to bolster services in the group.

Challenges Of Re-Entering Society

Substance abuse alters the functioning of the brain, and several things can activate a craving for the substance within the brain. It's basic for those in treatment, particularly those treated at an inpatient centre or jail, to figure out how to identify, ignore and adapt to triggers they are probably going to be presented to after treatment.