Drug addiction is a complex illness and is characterized by intense and sometimes uncontrollable cravings for the drug of choice. Along with these cravings, there are compulsions regarding the seeking of those drugs of choice regardless of the consequences that may await those who are addicted. This behavior results largely from the long-term effects the drugs themselves have on both the circuitry and chemistry of the brain itself. Environmental factors such as familiar history and patterns as well as societal pressures and composition can also compound issues surrounding an individual’s drug addiction.
Because of the complexity surrounding drug abuse and addiction, treatment is not a “one size fits all” concept. In order for an addicted individual to stop using drugs and maintain a quality drug-free lifestyle, addiction treatment ideally needs to be multi-faceted in order to address those aspects of the illness of addiction and its ramifications. Most people who enter treatment or rehabilitation for their drug or alcohol addiction may require long-term care because addiction is typically chronic in nature. Because addiction is a complex illness and there isn’t an “end all/be all” regarding treatment options, addiction is too often not treated. With an estimated 23 million people with addiction issues, only 1 in 10 actually receive treatment.
Comprehensive treatment, especially in adults, can help those who are addicted to stop using drugs and avoid relapse. In order for treatment to be effective in adults (as well as other segments of the population like adolescents), there need to be solid principles regarding effective treatment. Along with those solid principles, there need to be effective treatment approaches in place to assist those adults who are addicted get not only the help they need in the short term (i.e. detoxification, individual/family counseling) but also strategies that will sustain their drug-free lifestyles once treatment has been completed.
Examples of Effective Treatment Approaches for Adults
The Use of Medication
The use of medication, especially in conjunction with behavioral therapy (which will be described below) are crucial elements in the therapeutic process for adults. The use of medication, especially in the detoxification process, can help in managing the withdrawal symptoms as well as minimize damage to the body and brain due to abuse of substances. It is important to note, however, that the use of medications or medical detoxification is not “treatment” in of itself. The use of medication, especially for adults, can also help in re-established normal brain functioning and to prevent relapse and diminish cravings.
It is important to note that multiple drug and medication approaches may be necessary in those adult who are polydrug users (users of more than one drug).