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What Does Drug Treatment Involve?


Drug treatment is required for those finding themselves struggling to break free of a crippling drug addiction. It is necessary for most people with a physical dependence on mood-altering substances including illegal drugs and prescription medication. But what does drug treatment involve and why is it so important? These are questions that many people ask before embarking on a programme of recovery.

Do You Need Drug Treatment?

There are many individuals struggling with drug addictions who do not even realise they have a problem. What often happens is that addiction occurs gradually, and the individual does not even notice that his or her consumption is increasing. In many cases, the family members and friends of the user will notice the issue first. They will see the changing behaviour and will realise that something is not quite right.

The changes to the addict’s brain will usually make it impossible for him or her to think clearly or make good decisions. This can then hamper their ability to notice the damage they are causing with their actions. Have your loved ones raised concerns about your behaviour? Are you worried that maybe you are using illegal drugs too often? Or have you found yourself struggling to cope without prescription medication? If so, it could be the case that you need drug treatment.

What Is Drug Treatment?

Those with a drug addiction will find themselves craving the substance they use regularly whenever the effects of it begin to wear off. They may experience withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, nausea or shaking whenever requiring a fix.

A physical dependence on illegal drugs or prescription medication is hard to break without help. There are some people who do manage to overcome their addictions by themselves, but this is extremely rare. Most will need professional help to separate themselves from their drug of choice; this usually begins with a medical detox.

A detoxification is often the first step on the road to recovery. It is necessary for those who are physically addicted to quit the drug they are using and get clean before starting a programme of rehabilitation. A drug detox allows the body to begin the healing process by eliminating any remaining toxins or chemicals that have been left over from years of abuse. Once it has been completed, the individual can start the more complex rehabilitation programme, which aims to tackle the emotional and psychological issues associated with addiction.

What Is Drug Detox Like?

During a detox from drugs, it is common for the individual to experience a range of withdrawal symptoms, which are usually the result of the body’s attempts at getting back to normal. The type of symptoms that a person experiences and how severe these are will depend on the type of drug he or she was using and for how long.

While it is certainly possible to detox at home, it is far safer and much more comfortable to do so in a supervised facility. This type of facility is staffed by a team of individuals with experience of the withdrawal process. Medical staff are on hand to administer medication if appropriate and to monitor the progress of the individual throughout. While most people will only experience mild to moderate symptoms, some will suffer severe withdrawals, which should be treated as an emergency if they arise. Failure to act immediately could be fatal.

The effects of a detox usually begin around six to twelve hours after the last drug has been taken. In most instances, the earliest withdrawal symptoms will be mild and may include nausea, vomiting, shaking, sweating, mood swings, and headaches. As the detox progresses, the symptoms might become more moderate in their intensity. At this point, the individual could feel quite unwell, similar to how he or she might feel if suffering with a bout of flu.

Symptoms tend to worsen before they come to a head and then subside. This process usually takes between one and two weeks. Many factors will determine how a detox goes, including the severity of the addiction and the overall mental and physical health of the individual. It is not possible to predict what symptoms the person will experience before the process begins, however. That is why most people would fare much better in a supervised facility where they have staff on hand with experience of the process and the necessary equipment that might be needed in the event of an emergency.

Rehabilitation for a Drug Addiction

When a detox has been completed, the individual will be ready to get going with a programme of rehabilitation. The reason rehab is not recommended until after a detox has been completed is because it can be quite an emotional experience. Patients are encouraged to delve deep into their life to get to the root cause of their illness, which can be quite traumatic at times. If the person was still under the influence of drugs, this may be even more upsetting and difficult to handle.

Rehab takes place either in an inpatient or outpatient facility, and this will depend on the specific requirements of the patient. Those with a severe addiction are usually advised to consider an inpatient programme because this type of programme is much more intensive and is seen as an essential springboard on the journey towards long-term sobriety.

Inpatient programmes tend to be provided by private clinics. The patient stays in the clinic for the duration of the programme, which for most people is around six to eight weeks. For patients with more than one type of addiction or those who have an addiction to drugs in conjunction with a mental health problem, the programme may need to be longer due to them having more complex needs.

There are many benefits to an inpatient programme. The fact that there are virtually no waiting times for admission means that addicts can get started on their recovery programme almost as soon as they make the decision to get help. With free outpatient programmes, they will often be forced to wait for treatment as organisations such as charities and the NHS struggle to keep up with demand.

The inpatient treatment programme is an intensive one. Patients spend most of each day in some type of treatment for their addiction. This could be individual counselling sessions with a counsellor or therapist or group therapy sessions with other recovering addicts. They may also take part in workshops and seminars designed to help with a return to everyday life.

Since inpatient clinics are distraction-free and individuals have little access to the outside world, patients are forced to concentrate on their recovery. They do not have to worry about issues at home and can get on with the task at hand. This makes the inpatient programme a major advantage for those who would struggle to deal with getting better with the distractions of their daily life around them.

However, in saying that, not every addict will thrive in the inpatient environment. Some would struggle if removed from their family, which could be detrimental to their progress. If they were unable to concentrate because of being apart from loved ones, they may not be able to move forward.

The NHS and charities typically provide outpatient programmes. This type of programme is also offered by private clinics as part of a secondary rehabilitation programme; they may be helpful for those who have completed an inpatient programme but are not yet ready to return to everyday life without added support.

The outpatient programme does not require the patient to stay in the clinic. Instead, regular counselling sessions are provided, which the patient attends before returning home. As these programmes are far less intensive than inpatient programmes, they tend to run for longer. Depending on the number of hours the patient spends in treatment each week, the programme could run for a few months up to a year or longer.

Therapy for Addiction

Whether you attend an inpatient or outpatient facility for drug addiction treatment, you can expect staff to utilise a variety of treatments to help you get the most from your recovery. Most providers use bespoke treatment plans for patients that will be designed around his or her needs. This might include a variety of traditional treatments as well as alternative therapies. Below are a few examples of the types of treatments that may make up your bespoke plan of care.

Individual Counselling

Individual counselling sessions take place between the recovering addict and a professional counsellor or therapist. During these sessions, the patient will be encouraged to examine his or her life and behaviour with a view to getting to the root cause of the illness.

Group Therapy

Group therapy sessions are used to help patients work together to inspire and motivate each other through the sharing of stories and experiences. These sessions are similar to the basic principles of fellowship support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous.

Contingency Management

With contingency management, staff use a system of rewards and consequences. Rewards are provided for good behaviour while consequences are imposed for unwanted behaviour. Such treatment is typically used in an inpatient facility and is geared towards those who are unable to see abstinence as its own reward.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT as it is also known, is used to help patients replace their maladaptive behaviour with positive alternatives. The idea is to help the patient identify positive ways to respond to various situations in life and then reinforce the idea of using these better behaviours so that they become the normal response.

Dialectic Behavioural Therapy

Dialectic behavioural therapy uses CBT in conjunction with other therapies such as mindfulness and distress tolerance. It is used to help patients learn how to make better decisions in response to everyday life situations. It works well when used with meditation and the fellowship support group’s 12-steps.

Why Drug Treatment is So Important

Those who struggle with drug addiction without tackling their issues will find life spiralling out of control. It is easy to bury one’s head in the sand and pretend nothing is amiss, but doing this could mean losing everything that is held dear to the sufferer.

Drug addiction has many negative consequences not only for the affected individual but also for his/her family members and friends. As well as the fact that it can cause poor mental and physical health for the addict, it will also negatively impact on relationships and finances.

As the illness progresses, almost every aspect of the person’s life will be affected. He or she will find him/herself struggling with various health problems, and he/she will find it hard to maintain healthy relationships with family members, friends, and people at work. Funding the addiction can also affect the person’s finances, which can have implications for the entire family.

Although many addicts can hide their addiction from the outside world for a time, they will usually find it more difficult to keep it a secret from those closest to them. Addicts tend to be poor providers, and many will struggle to hold down a job due to poor performance and regular absenteeism.

This is what makes drug treatment so important. Without it, many more families would continue to suffer. Those who do get help for their addiction can often turn their life around quite dramatically. They will notice improvements in their health and will start to get their relationships back on the right track. During rehabilitation, addicts are often taught how to make amends with those they have wronged, and family therapy is usually provided to help the entire family to heal.

If you are interested in a programme of drug treatment for yourself or a loved one, please contact us here at Addiction.org.uk today. We can put you in touch with a suitable provider based on your needs and circumstances. Call us now for more information on the question of what does drug treatment involve, what we do, and how we can help you overcome your drug addiction once and for all.

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