There are many reasons people with drug addictions choose not to access the treatment that could help them get their lives back on track. Some do not realise they are actually in a place where their drug use is having a negative impact on their own life and the lives of those around them. This is usually because they are living in denial and cannot see the seriousness of their situation.
Others are not ready to give up on the drug that they have become dependent on and are unwilling to accept being diagnosed as an addict for fear of having to quit. Then there are those who do not believe that they can be helped. They do not see a life where drugs do not play a role and think that even if they did try to get help, it would be pointless. In their mind, they are beyond help.
To this end then, are drug treatment programmes effective? Can they help even those with the most severe addictions? We discuss this and more in the following paragraphs.
Most of those not accessing treatment for their drug addiction have their reasons for continuing with their addictive behaviour. But those who fail to get help because they do not believe the treatment will work usually do not know what to expect from detox and rehabilitation. In their mind, nothing could stop them from wanting drugs and so they are sceptical about any programme that claims to be able to do that. Are drug treatment programmes effective for these kinds of people?
To appreciate how drug treatment programmes can be so effective, it would help to understand a little more about how they work. For starters, anyone looking for treatment will need to start with a detox programme if physically or psychologically dependent on drugs.
Detox is the process of ridding the body of the toxins and chemicals that have built up while taking the substance. It begins naturally after the last dose of the drug has been taken. Once the body and brain ‘realise’ that the substance they have become dependent on is not forthcoming, both will attempt to get back to normal.
Detox programmes vary in length and are dependent on several factors, such as the substance that was being abused, the severity of the addiction, and whether there are any underlying health problems.
With some drugs, you will be expected to cease using the drug there and then – this is known as going cold turkey. However, with drugs such as benzodiazepines, quitting cold turkey can be dangerous and lead to severe side effects. If you are addicted to a benzodiazepine drug, you may be given a substitute drug while you withdraw from the substance you are addicted to. Alternatively, you might be given a tapering schedule where you will gradually reduce the amount of the drug over the course of a few weeks. Doing this helps to lessen the impact of withdrawal.
Drug detox can take place at home or in a special detox facility where you would stay for the entire programme; for most affected individuals this would between one to two weeks. While detoxing at home is possible for some, for others it is advisable to withdraw from drugs under careful medical supervision in a dedicated facility.
Fear of detox is another reason some people are reluctant to seek help for their addiction. There is a common misconception that a detox is going to be excruciating, and so they do not want to put themselves through the pain. Others believe that even if they do manage to quit the drug they are dependent on, they are simply going to go back on it again at a later date. They do not see the point in completing a detox if they are going to relapse.
The reality is that relapse is not inevitable, and a detox is not going to be an agonising experience. It is true that detox can be uncomfortable, and you are likely to feel unwell for a few days. Nevertheless, any discomfort you do experience can be effectively managed and treated when the process is taking place in a supervised facility.
With some drugs, detoxing can result in severe or even life-threatening symptoms, but in a dedicated detox facility, staff can manage symptoms and even prevent the worst ones from occurring. This means that you are always going to be safe and secure and as comfortable as possible when detoxing in such a facility.
The question of ‘are drug treatment programmes effective?’ is one that many people ponder. Some doubt the effectiveness of these programmes because they just do not know much about them. The idea that detox is enough to ‘cure’ addiction all by itself is a general, but misguided, assumption.
Know though that addiction cannot be cured. It can be treated though and with ongoing vigilance, sobriety can be maintained permanently. But without rehabilitation, the risk of relapse will be much higher.
To overcome drug addiction, both detox and rehab must be completed. Detox deals with the physical side of the illness, but rehab is necessary to tackle the psychological and emotional elements of the addiction.
In rehabilitation, you will learn all about addiction and what causes it. You will work with a counsellor or therapist to uncover the reasons you became ill in the first place, and you will develop methods to avoid a relapse when you return to normal everyday life.
During rehab, you will have various treatments that are likely to take place on an individual or group basis, and these sessions will prepare you for independent sober living. You will get the opportunity to see yourself through the eyes of others and you will learn all about how your negative thought processes influence your behaviour.
In answer to the question of ‘are drug treatment programmes effective?’, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’. Nonetheless, drug treatment programmes are not going to work without any effort from you. You must remember that for a drug treatment programme to work, you must commit to it. It is not enough to just enter a programme of detox and rehabilitation and wait for a miracle to happen.
It is necessary to work hard on making changes to your life. You need to change the way you think and act going forward if you want to achieve permanent sobriety. Working hard during your treatment will allow you to learn all you can about addiction and how to recover from it.
You will need to be honest with yourself and with your counsellors. You will probably be used to bottling things up and keeping secrets from loved ones, but if you want to get better, this is a habit you will need to break. It is important to share your thoughts and emotions if you want to put substance abuse behind you once and for all.
Are drug treatment programmes effective? Yes, they most certainly are, and if you have been on the fence about getting the help you need to regain control of your life, there has never been a better time for you to reach out.
Remember that every day you delay is another day that you will never get back. Do not allow addiction to control your life any longer when all you need to do is ask for help. With both free and private programmes available across the UK, you have plenty of options. To find out more about the treatment programmes in your area, please contact us here at UKAT or consult your doctor.