Substance abuse can be a debilitating problem. Though many people do not have sympathy for those who are suffering with this problem, it is actually considered to be a disease. It is characterized by a nearly uncontrollable urge to seek a certain substance or substances, despite the harm that it can do to the brain and body of the individual.
There are a few treatment components that have been shown to work for patients suffering from addictions to substances. It is a treatable problem, but the patient has to work very hard in order to retrain his or her brain. The treatment must be effective in helping the individual stop abusing the substance, stay away from it after stopping, and regain the ability to be productive in society, as well as in the family and at work.
There are certain steps that are considered vital parts of successful treatment to drug addiction. The first one is detoxification, or the process in which the individual stops taking the drug and the drug is completely purged from the person’s body. Behavioral counseling is also necessary, and in some cases, medication is administered. The individual must also be evaluated and treated for any co-occurring mental health problems that may be present alongside the substance abuse problem, such as anxiety disorders and depression. Once the individual is considered to be in remission, there must be follow-up sessions over the long term in order to minimize the chances of relapse.
Behavioral therapies are particularly important in the process, as they help the patients alter their attitudes and actions as they pertain to substance abuse, enhance healthy behaviors, and increase the efficacy of other forms of treatment that are being administered (such as medication). There are multiple types of behavioral therapy that are useful for these individuals. One is cognitive-behavioral therapy, which gives patients the skills they need to recognize and avoid the situations in which they would be likely to abuse substances, as well as cope with these situations if they are presented with them. Multidimensional family therapy is useful mostly for adolescents with substance abuse problems, and it is meant to improve the family dynamic in addition to addressing potential surrounding influences on the drug problem. Motivational interviewing enhances people’s motivation to alter their behaviors and proceed with treatment, and motivational incentives are basically examples of positive reinforcement that are used to encourage a person to stay away from drugs.
In addition to behavioral therapy, medications are often used to manage the symptoms of withdrawal, as well as treat any co-occuring mental disorders and prevent relapse of the drug use.
Substance abuse treatment can be a long and laborious process for the patient. In fact, for some, going through it may be the hardest thing that they ever have to do. However, it will be well worth it if the treatment is successful, as it will enable the person to lift the hold that the addiction has over him or her and live a happier and more productive life.