31 August 2017

Discussion: What Is Drug Addiction Treatment and Why Is It Needed?

There are countless individuals around the world affected by drug addiction. It is difficult to pinpoint the exact number of people struggling with drug addiction in the UK because many of those with this type of illness have not reached out for treatment. Statistics can record the number of individuals receiving treatment, but it is impossible to tell the exact number who have no control over their drug use unless they have sought help. So, what is drug addiction treatment? And, why are more drug addicts not accessing it?

Recognising a Drug Addiction

It is relatively easy for those who abuse illegal drugs to recognise when they are in trouble. When these affected individuals find that they are constantly craving the drug they have been abusing, or find that they need to take more of it than before to achieve the high they desire, they will have their suspicions about being on the path to addiction.

However, when it comes to other substances such as prescription medication, it is not so straightforward. Those who have been prescribed drugs by their doctor to treat a legitimate health problem may find it hard to accept that this medication could be anything but beneficial to them. Despite warnings that prescription medication can be addictive, and even dangerous, when abused, many fail to heed these warnings. This is often because they are oblivious to what prescription drug abuse actually means.

They do not realise, for example, that taking medication that was prescribed for another person is classed as abuse, as is taking more of the medication than advised by a doctor.

To recognise the possibility of drug addiction, there are a number of signs to look out for. The first will be an increased tolerance. When a person’s tolerance to a chemical substance increases, he or she will find that they are no longer getting the same relief as before. In the case of prescription medication, the individual may believe that the drugs have ‘stopped working’. This is because their body has adapted to the drugs and is producing fewer dopamine chemicals in response to them being taken.

The same principle applies to illegal drugs such as crack cocaine or heroin. The affected person may find that the high achieved from taking the drug is not as intense as it was the first time it was taken. The individual will spend his or her life chasing that elusive high but never achieving it. This can lead him/her to continuously increase their levels of drug use and hence risk developing a crippling addiction.

Another sign of a drug addiction is intense cravings for the drug whenever the effects begin to wear off. With a physical addiction, the individual may notice various symptoms manifesting such as headaches, nausea, vomiting, and sweating whenever in need of a fix. Those with a psychological addiction may become irritable and anxious or believe that they are unable to function without the drug.

Who is Affected by Drug Addiction?

A drug addiction is an illness that does not discriminate based on a person’s age, gender, race, religion, or background; it does not matter how much money he or she has or where he/she lives. What does matter is that the affected person has allowed their use of a mood-altering substance to spiral out of control and is now in a position of being unable to quit or cut back on their use, even if he or she wanted to.

The truth is that anyone can be affected by addiction if he or she takes illegal drugs or prescription medication. The problem is that many individuals taking these substances are convinced that they can quit at any time. They believe that they have full control over their use and it is only when trying to quit that a realisation hits of being unable to do so.

While anyone can be affected by addiction, not everyone who uses these substances will be. So how does this happen? Scientists do not know why some people will develop an addiction and others will not. What they do know is that there are certain factors that make it more likely for one person to be affected while others are not. These factors can include a family history of addiction, mental health problems, traumatic experiences, early exposure to drugs, and the environment in which the person grew up.

But what must be mentioned here is the fact that even someone with every single risk fact is not guaranteed to be affected by addiction. Some individuals will still be affected even if they do not have any risk factors. The only way to avoid a drug addiction is complete abstinence.

Can a Drug Addiction be Treated?

There are many individuals who have managed to overcome their drug addictions with the help of professional counsellors and therapists. It is possible to overcome addiction without help but it is very rare and those who do will usually have a very shaky sobriety that will be susceptible to a relapse at any time.

For most people, treatment for a drug addiction begins with a drug detox, where they will be separated from the substance to which they have been addicted. During a drug detox, various withdrawal symptoms are possible and these symptoms can be mild to severe in intensity. There is no way to predict the symptoms a person will experience or how severe these will be, so it is best to detox in a supervised facility.

Supervised detox programmes typically last for between one and two weeks, depending on the type of substance the individual was using, how severe their addiction is, and how the detox progresses. Most people will experience mild to moderate symptoms that start a number of hours after the last drug was taken.

Symptoms typically start off quite mild but will progress over several days before reaching a peak and then tapering off. In a supervised facility, staff can monitor the progress of the detox and can administer medication or even nutritional supplements if appropriate. This can help to ease any pain and suffering associated with symptoms and can even prevent the most severe symptoms from arising.

Rehabilitation for Drug Addiction

For those who want to fully recover from a drug addiction, a programme of rehabilitation is necessary once the detox has been completed. There may be a temptation to stop any more treatment after the detox is complete, but this has been proven time and again to be a major mistake. Those who detox without rehabilitation will be much more likely to suffer a relapse when the issues that caused the addiction in the first place surface once more.

A detox is designed to tackle the physical side of the addiction but does nothing to address the emotional or psychological issues. This must take place with a programme of rehabilitation where various psychotherapeutic treatments will help the affected person to unlearn maladaptive behaviours and replace them with positive alternatives.

Inpatient Programmes

Inpatient programmes are ideal for those who want to overcome a drug addiction. This type of treatment involves the patient moving from their homes to the clinic for a period of around six to eight weeks. Here, they will undergo an intensive programme that will set them on the path to recovery.

Inpatient programmes are typically provided by private clinics and are usually decorated to a high standard. The comfortable surroundings and quiet environment lend themselves to the recovery process as patients do not have to worry about anything but getting well again.

These clinics are staffed by some of the best people in the business who are dedicated to ensuring that all patients recover from their illnesses. As well as counsellors, therapists and support staff, there may be psychologists, psychiatrists, and doctors on hand to deal with any issues the patient may have. Patients have around the clock access to care and support to help them recover.

Many experts believe that inpatient programmes offer the best chance of a successful recovery because of the concentrated approach to treatment. They are ideal for those with severe addictions or chaotic home lives where staying away from drugs would prove very difficult. With no access to temptations or triggers, patients have little choice but to get on with the task at hand while in a private facility.

Outpatient Programmes

Although inpatient programmes are often the preferred option for many, they are not always the most appropriate choice. Those who are unable to be away from home or work for an extended period would require an outpatient programme instead. This type of programme tends to be provided by many organisations including private clinics, charities, local support groups, and the NHS.

Outpatient programmes work on a day care basis whereby patients attend regular counselling sessions but then return home afterwards. As you might imagine, these types of programme are generally not suited to those close to a relapse or those with a chaotic home life where drugs are readily accessible. Nevertheless, for people with plenty of support at home and those with a less severe illness, these are often the ideal option.

Some experts believe that the fact that outpatient programmes force addicts to recover while also dealing with their everyday life issues is an added bonus.

Choosing a Treatment Programme

You may have a preference for a particular type of treatment programme but it would be wise to seek professional advice before making any decision regarding your care. Here at UKAT, we have several clinics offering first-class detox and rehabilitation programmes throughout the UK. We can discuss your situation with you and give you a clearer picture of the type of treatment programme that you might need.

If you would like information on the question of what is drug addiction treatment or the treatment programmes available, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us today.

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