Treatments for drug addiction

Treatments for drug addiction vary greatly on factors such as the type of drug the person is addicted to and the type of person they are, successful treatments for addicts will usually be a combination of therapy and other services. Problems caused by a person’s addiction can also vary; a person can suffer mental health, health, occupational or social problems which make their addiction more difficult to treat.

What types of treatment are there?

Drug addiction treatments can include behavioural therapy such as counselling, cognitive therapy and psychotherapy, medication and more often than not a combination of both. Behavioural therapy is an excellent way of helping people deal with the cravings associated with withdrawal, it also teaches the person how to avoid addiction in the future and can help with relapses.

The ideal programme will provide the person with a combination of therapies and other services which are tailored to meet the needs of the individual. Things taken into account are age, sex, race, culture, parenting, housing and employment.

Medications are also used in successfully treating the addict; methadone is often used for those addicted to drugs while nicotine products such as chewing gum and patches are available for those addicted to cigarettes. Treatments such as anti-depressants may also play a crucial role in addicts who suffer from depression or anxiety related problems.

Treatments will be given for different lengths of time and in a wide range of settings depending on the addiction, because relapses are common short term one time treatments generally are not successful and are rarely used. For the majority of addicts treatment will be long term and can involve multiple attempts.

Why can’t addicts quit by themselves?

Almost all addicts think that they can quit without help in the beginning and many do indeed try, however almost all addicts who try on their own fail to quit for any length of time. Addicts who have used substances for any length of time have been found to have significant changes in the way their brain functions and these changes last for a long time after the person has stopped using.

These changes have behavioural consequences including a strong compulsion to use drugs despite the consequences. Other factors that have an effect are stress from work or family problems, meeting friends from the past who are associated with the addiction and problems occurring from the environment, for example coming across smells, places or objects that the person associates with their addiction.

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