Self Help Treatments for Drug Addiction

Drug Abuse and Addiction

Self-help for addiction is a tough one, as anyone who has been through it and come out the other end will tell you. But it's not impossible and for some people, even those with serious addictions, it's sometimes the best road to recovery.

It doesn't necessarily mean locking yourself away from every temptation to suffer terrible withdrawal symptoms on your own. It can be done that way but the most successful forms of self help usually involve a structured a program, supported by other people.

Consider the literature available from Hazelden - if you are based in the UK, it takes about 10 days for delivery.

The most serious addictions such as heroin abuse normally require professional behavioural therapy and maintenance medication ­ (replacing the abused drug with a weaker one such as methadone). Self help and support groups usually kick in once the addict has been weaned off the drug.

Some addicts believe that going "cold turkey" is the only way of getting off drugs and alcohol - in other words, suddenly stopping the abused substance with no intention of going back. There are those who opt for this method because they've tried to hide the addiction for years and don't want anyone to know they are trying to overcome it. The expression cold turkey refers to the cold, goose flesh skin suffered by many addicts in withdrawal from various substances, especially heroin.

With drugs such as heroin, the withdrawal effects - including chills, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain and insomnia - peak within 48 hours and generally subside after about 10 days. But symptoms can last for months and the relapse rate among "self-helpers" is very high. According to research figures around 80% of people who try the cold turkey method are usually back on the drug within a month. That's not to ignore the achievements of those heroin addicts who manage to kick the habit with willpower alone.

Normally one of the important aspects of self-help is that an addict admits they need support to stop their dependence on alcohol or drugs. Accepting that there's a problem is half the battle.

There are lots of groups out there to offer support. Many organisations such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous use the 12-step recovery program. With the majority, the aim is to give back self-empowerment and self-reliance and to give people the tools to cope with life and manage the thoughts which may have led to their addiction.

Home recovery programs, such as the Jude Thaddeus Home Recovery Program, work in a similar way but don't regard themselves so much as a treatment - more of an education. Their "DIY" home recovery publications claim to offer addicts step by step guidance towards achieving sober and fulfilling lives.

The Jude Thaddeus program claims a 30 to 40% success rate. Groups such as AA and NA don't generally like publicising their success rates believing an individual's success is more important than broad statistics.

There are lots of home recovery programs available on the Internet, many of which claim success in overcoming addiction can be achieved simply by reading a book. It's hard to say for sure how successful they are because many addicts who manage to help themselves don't appear among any official statistics

But research studies suggest success is more likely when health agencies and social services combine to offer a multidisciplinary form of treatment.

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