Substance abuse is a harrowing problem that can destroy the life of the addict and negatively impact the lives of everyone around them. Today in the United States whole communities are being destroyed by the terrible toll of Opioid drug addiction, which is often fatal for those who do not receive treatment. As the problem grows ever more severe, treatment centers like OARC and The Betty Ford Center are working hard to provide rehab services for those who need them, but much more must be done.
The Realities of Addiction
Addiction is a compulsive disease that leads the addict to use more and more of their drug of choice. As more of the substance is used, the user often develops a physical resistance to the drug, so that more is needed in order to get the same “high.” All of this leads into a dangerous cycle that impacts the user in a terribly destructive way. Ultimately, the only way out of addiction is for the user to finally come to a point where they can ask for help and seek treatment, hopefully before it’s too late.
When an addicted person enters a rehab facility, whether it is for short term or longer term help, they will initially be given a workup by a counselor who will create an individualized treatment plan. This plan will be geared towards the client’s needs for detox, counseling and any medications they may need to deal with withdrawal symptoms or with any underlying mental health problems they may have. This is called a “dual diagnosis” approach, which acknowledges that many addicts have other mental health problems that play a part in their addiction.
Once a treatment plan has been established, the client will enter detox to have the intoxicants cleared from their system.
Dealing With Withdrawal
During withdrawal, a user may experience severe symptoms including nausea, vomiting, hallucinations, anxiety and diarrhea. A trained healthcare worker will monitor their situation throughout, to ensure they are safe during the process. In some cases, medications may be given to the client to help ease their withdrawal symptoms. Once the process is complete, the client will then enter into counseling to help understand their addiction and to embrace life as a newly sober person.
Relapse and Medications
In the past, sobriety was often considered to be a completely drug-free state, which meant abstaining from any prescribed medications. This is the Alcoholics Anonymous model, and while it has been very effective in helping people to become sober, today many medical professionals are embracing the idea of using some medications in order to help patients avoid relapsing back into addiction.
The answer to the question of “can medications be used in addiction treatment?” is now being reexamined. Some medications have been proven very effective in helping people maintain their sobriety, and they are gaining more acceptance in the rehab community.
Among the medications now accepted for use in rehab are Suboxone, which is an opioid-replacement drug that can help a newly sober person cut down their cravings for drugs and to help ease the often harrowing withdrawal symptoms. Acamprosate is another drug that is used to help cut down long-lasting symptoms of withdrawal, which can include insomnia and anxiety. Antabuse is a drug that is used to help people stop drinking by bringing on unpleasant side effects with alcohol use, like vomiting.
As treatment progresses with counseling sessions and group activities, clients in rehab have a chance to begin embracing life as a sober person. Many people begin to get a sense of what they have missed by being intoxicated for so long and by not really being an active participant in the world. For some newly sober people, the sense that they have a new chance at life can bring on feelings of gratitude and euphoria, which is why rehab is so valuable and life-altering.
At the end of the rehab process, some people may choose to continue with their recovery by staying in a long-term treatment center or sober house. This is a great choice for many people who are in danger of relapsing, as the support they receive in a sober community can make all the difference in staying sober and well for the long term.
Ultimately, sobriety is a choice a person has to make on a daily basis. If they can continue on that path, they have a real chance at living their best and fullest life.