Drug Addiction Treatments and Information
Drug addiction is a chronic, progressive brain disease characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use in spite of negative consequences. Like other chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and asthma, drug addiction can’t be cured but can be successfully managed.
Addiction: A Brain Disease
Once an individual starts using drugs, the chemical changes in the frontal cortex and prefrontal cortex of the brain can make it extremely difficult to stop without treatment. Certain drugs are similar in structure to the brain’s natural neurotransmitters while others flood the brain with dopamine. In either case, abusing drugs triggers the pleasure centers of the brain and makes it difficult for the user to experience pleasure in other ways.
The Threat of Relapse
Relapse is not inevitable, but it is a common part of the disease of addiction. Most experts agree that relapse is not a sign of failure but an indication that the individual needs additional treatment or adjustments to their relapse prevention plan. For many people, relapse brings them one step closer to long-term addiction recovery.
The Most Abused Drugs
Addiction is addiction no matter the drug. But different drugs lead different people down the destructive path of addiction, including:
- Amphetamines (such as methamphetamine and prescription medications like Ritalin and Adderall)
- Ecstasy (MDMA)
- Hallucinogens (such as LSD and mescaline)
- Prescription Drugs (such as opiates, benzodiazepines and sedatives)
Causes of a Drug Addiction
Some people who use drugs become addicted while others do not. What makes certain people more vulnerable than others? Drug addiction is likely caused by a combination of factors, including:
- Genetics (cutting-edge research increasingly shows that addiction is a brain disease with a strong genetic component)
- Brain Chemistry
- Environment (e.g., family dynamics, peer group and socioeconomic status)
- Having other mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety
Symptoms of a Drug Addiction
The symptoms of drug addiction vary depending on the particular type of drug being abused. In general, there are two telltale signs of drug addiction:
- Tolerance — needing more of the drug in order to achieve the same high
- Withdrawal — experiencing drug cravings and other symptoms when abruptly stopping use of a drug
If you’re concerned that you or someone you care about may be addicted to drugs, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you feel consumed by the desire for more drugs?
- Have you tried unsuccessfully to stop using drugs?
- Have you behaved in ways you wouldn’t normally, such as lying, stealing or manipulating others, when under the influence of drugs?
- Do you take drugs more often or in larger doses than intended?
- Do you focus much of your time and energy on getting and using drugs?
- Have you failed to meet your work, school and home obligations because of drug abuse?
- Do you continue to abuse drugs despite negative consequences such as job loss, health problems, legal trouble or damaged relationships?
The first step of addiction recovery is stopping the use of drugs. However, abruptly stopping use of certain drugs can be painful and dangerous. Supervised drug detox allows addicts to stop using drugs in a safe, comfortable manner under medical monitoring.
The drug detox process typically takes 3 to 10 days, and may be done in a hospital, residential or outpatient setting, depending on the drug of abuse and length and intensity of use. With the aid of medications such as Suboxone and methadone, individuals can gradually wean off drugs with minimal withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings.
Drug detox treats the physical symptoms of addiction but is only the first step toward recovery. To address the mental, emotional and spiritual effects of addiction, experts generally recommend a combination of one or more of the following treatments:
- Medical, psychological and psychiatric assessments
- Education about addiction
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
- Life skills training
- 12-Step support groups (or alternatives such as SMART Recovery or Life Ring)
- Holistic therapies (e.g., meditation, yoga, Qigong, acupuncture and massage)
- Relapse prevention planning
Depending on the drug of abuse, drug history, previous treatment attempts, home environment, and other factors, individuals may benefit from either outpatient or residential drug rehab. If the addict has co-occurring mental health disorders or requires a high level of structure and supervision to stay clean, residential drug rehab is generally the most effective treatment option.
Some drug rehab centers offer specialized treatment programs such as:
- Men-Only Drug Rehab
- Women-Only Drug Rehab
- Teen Drug Rehab
- Dual Diagnosis Treatment
- Chronic Pain and Addiction Treatment
The involvement of family members and loved ones is critical for lifelong recovery. The best addiction treatment programs offer family therapy, education and support for the entire family system. They also offer continuing care, or “aftercare,” to provide ongoing support in the earliest and most difficult months of recovery.
Research shows that the longer an individual stays in treatment, the greater their chances of long-term addiction recovery. After completing drug detox and residential treatment, individuals may benefit from “step-down” levels of care such as sober living environments, outpatient care, and ongoing therapy and support groups.
Choosing a Drug Rehab
There is no uniform treatment option that meets the needs of all substance abuse patients. Finding the right treatment program involves careful consideration of the setting, length of care, philosophical approach and the patient’s needs. While some patients succeed in outpatient facilities or day treatment, others require more intensive, long-term care at a residential treatment center.
Obtain your Free guide to Levels of Care
Wherever individuals are in the life cycle of their disorders, CRC Health has a program to meet their needs. We provide comprehensive treatment to adults and adolescents at every level of care, from detoxification, residential rehab treatment, and partial hospitalization or day treatment to intensive outpatient rehab and extended care programs. Our programs address substance abuse from every angle, using traditional treatments such as the 12-step principles and individual and group cognitive-behavioral therapy, as well as alternative therapies such as experiential groups, yoga, meditation, trauma resolution groups, art therapy and spirituality groups.
Our professional program staff understands that effective treatment requires a personalized treatment plan that is tailored to each patient’s drug abuse patterns and any co-occurring medical, psychiatric or social problems. Whatever program is chosen, the ultimate goal is to enable each individual to achieve lasting sobriety.