Drug Abuse and Addiction Treatment Programs

Drug Abuse and Addiction

Treatment for any type of addiction has to be tailored to the needs of the individual. An addict must learn how to live a normal life again and not revert back to whatever it was that lured them into drug dependency in the first place. Easier said than done for many but it's important to remember that all addictions are treatable. Experts believe the difference between success and failure lies in the addict's own desire to change.

Help is out there but it's often a long haul out of addiction. In the short term the goal is to lessen a person's dependency on the drug and improve their ability to function. In the long term the aim is to keep them off the drug and tackle all the medical and social implications that go with it.

Treatment usually falls into these two categories:­ short term and long term programs.

Short Term Treatment

This usually lasts around six months or less and includes:

Outpatient Drug Free Therapy ­ usually involving group or individual counselling at a clinic with participation in any of the 12 step programs such as that run by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

Residential Programs - usually involving one to two months of treatment at a detox or rehab center based on counselling, behavioural and psychotherapy. This is followed by extended outpatient follow up which often includes the 12 step program.

Long term treatment

This can last for anything up to 12 months and in many cases the follow up support continues as long as needed:

Maintenance Therapy - normally provided on an outpatient basis and is geared towards heroin addicts who are given an oral dose of the synthetic drug methadone. This blocks the effects of heroin allowing the user to gradually wean themselves off the drug and all that goes with it in terms of social consequences. To be effective this type of therapy should be provided alongside other services such as counselling and medical care.

Residential Therapeutic Communities ­ these are very structured programs at rehab centers aimed at people who may have dropped out of society or turned to a life of crime because of their long term addiction. People usually stay at these centers for up to a year, receiving counselling and psychotherapy not only to reduce their dependency but also to help them become functioning members of society again.

These treatment regimes should always be backed up by other services such as mental health care and medical support. In the case of injecting drug users, HIV and hepatitis prevention services are vital.

Some people manage to beat addiction through will power alone without any professional treatment. But the "cold turkey" method of sudden withdrawal without the help of any other medication is just too brutal for many addicts to handle. The withdrawal symptoms can be extremely severe and research has shown that cold turkey without support is not as successful in the long term as professionally managed treatments.

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