Addiction is a chronic disease where a person’s brain is unable to function without drugs, and consequently they will do anything to stay high, including immoral or illegal activities. Withdrawal symptoms may set in during times of sobriety, driving people to use again. Addiction is a serious problem but it can be treated. A combination of detox, medications, rehabilitation and support groups can bring a person back to healthy living.
What is an Addiction?
An addiction is a disease that changes the brain’s chemical makeup. It hijacks your thoughts so that drugs are your main priority. An addiction drives people to dangerous behaviors on a constant quest to stay high or drunk. An addiction can destroy relationships, cause money problems and ruin your health. Addiction is also painful for friends and family as they watch their loved one suffer.
Addiction is one of the most serious problems our society faces today. One in seven young adults have needed treatment for an addiction and many people never get the help they need. Thankfully, there are many ways to treat an addiction in you or someone you love. You can end your addiction now — but only if you seek help.
Taking the First Step
Immediate action is the best way to treat an addiction. By reaching out to doctors, you can learn about vital treatment plans. If you fear a friend or loved one is suffering from an addiction, you can stage an intervention with others to make them aware of your concern. After the disease is acknowledged, treatment can begin.
Detoxification, or detox, is the first step in treating addiction. In many ways, a detox is a primer for lasting recovery. During a detox, your drug intake is cut off. This cleanses the body and allows healing to begin.
Withdrawal symptoms may set in during a detox. These symptoms vary between addictions, but they often make the process uncomfortable. Doctors often prescribe medications to ease withdrawal symptoms during a detox.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that detox programs are effective at stopping immediate abuse, but continued treatment through therapy is the best way to completely end an addiction. A detox alone will not be enough because your body has come to rely on drugs on a long-term basis.
Medications help your body recover from the effects of addiction throughout the treatment process. Medically-assisted detox eases withdrawal symptoms. Medications also save lives during drug overdoses and manages health issues caused by drugs. Professionals can determine what medications will work best for you during the treatment process.
Rehab gives you a better chance at sustaining a drug-free life after a detox. Doctors, families and fellow recovering addicts support you as you learn how to avoid relapses. You may choose inpatient or outpatient rehab depending on your needs.
Inpatient rehab provides round-the-clock care in a retreat-style setting. Here you will adjust to a sober lifestyle and learn to prevent relapses. Group counseling sessions provide a support network of doctors and other recovering addicts. Inpatient rehab is preferred for people with severe addictions, who may need more guidance and structure to recover.
Outpatient rehab treats an addiction from home. This allows you to balance existing duties, like work or school, while you work toward a drug-free life. During outpatient rehab, family members, doctors and therapists help you maintain a sober lifestyle. Outpatient rehab works best for people with milder cases of addiction.
You may feel isolated or ashamed when recovering from an addiction, but you are not alone. Many struggle with the same feelings you do. Support groups bring recovering addicts together to help them stay drug-free. There are many support groups for different types of addictions, including Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Support groups are a great way to reinforce the lessons learned in rehab and help others. You may join a support group during or after the rehab process.
Long-term recovery from an addiction may have ups and downs, including relapses. A relapse occurs when you return to drug use during or after treatment for an addiction. Many addicts relapse because addictions are chronic conditions. A chronic addiction means the body’s cravings are deeply rooted into the brain.
A 2007 study reported that over 85% of addiction patients relapsed during the first year of treatment. Don’t give up the fight. Reach out to a doctor if you or someone you love has a relapse. Recovery is possible.
The Bottom Line
If you or someone you love is battling an addiction, seek immediate help. Drug addiction can cause permanent damage to your body and mind. It can also destroy your relationships and financial stability. The help you need is just a phone call, email or text away. Do not be ashamed to seek help.