According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health published in August 2019, an estimated 164.8 million people aged 12 or older in the United States (60.2 percent) were past-month substance users (i.e., tobacco, alcohol, or illicit drugs). That does not mean that this many people require treatment -- that figure is probably closer to approximately 22 million. It does, however, show that there are millions of people who treatment for an addictive disorder.
In this article, we’ll briefly define addiction, what the symptoms are, and the treatment options available.
How do I know I have an addiction?
Technically the term ‘addiction’ isn’t used anymore when it comes to getting a diagnosis,” explains Arnold Lieber, MD. “In the most recent edition Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, drug and alcohol addiction are called ‘use disorders’ (i.e. Alcohol Use Disorder; Opioid Use Disorder).”
“The three most common symptoms of a use disorder include needing more of the substance over time to achieve the same effect, experiencing withdrawal symptoms when stopping use, and being unable to quit even when you know there is a big problem,” adds Dr, Lieber.
Additionally, use disorders can range from mild to severe and include the following symptoms:
Being incapable of limiting drug or alcohol use.
Making unsuccessful attempts to curtail use.
Spending much time using or obtaining the substance.
Experiencing cravings to use.
Falling behind in work, school, or family responsibilities due to use.
Continuing use even when aware of the problems it causes.
Abandoning former interests or hobbies to engage in use.
Drinking alcohol or using drugs in unsafe situations, such as driving.
Requiring more of the substance to achieve the same effect.
Can addiction be treated?
Short answer? Yes. However, because addiction can be chronic disease or use disorder, it’s unrealistic to expect an individual to be cured in just a couple of days. In most cases, patients will require long-term or repeated care.
What is the first step towards recovery?
“Asking for help gives you the best chance in changing the pattern of addiction,” says Dr, Lieber. “Going it alone rarely works, and isolating will only set you up for relapse. Getting help can look like talking to your doctor, a mental health professional, or a loved one.” Other options are getting support from strangers or by attending support groups.
If you believe that you or your loved one needs addiction treatment, you must see a doctor or mental health professional who can discuss possible treatment options. Because there isn’t a no-size-fits-all approach, they can assist you in choosing a recovery path that works best for you. You could also use resources like the START Initiative.
At the minimum, the treatment program that you decide on should:
Offer you detoxification support.
Address all the person’s needs that the addiction impacts.
Offer you counseling and behavioral support.
Consider medication as an option.
Evaluate you for other mental health concerns.
Educate you about healthy coping skills and habits.
Provide follow-up services to prevent future use.
What are the treatments for drug addiction?
Some of the most common treatment options are:
Detoxification. This “is normally the first step in treatment,” writes Adam Felman for Medical News Today. “This involves clearing a substance from the body and limiting withdrawal reactions.”
Counseling and behavioral therapies. Following detoxification, this is the most common type of treatment. “Therapy might occur on a one-to-one, group, or family basis depending on the needs of the individual,” adds Felman. “It is usually intensive at the outset of treatment with the number of sessions gradually reducing over time as symptoms improve.” Other forms of therapy include cognitive-behavioral therapy, multidimensional family therapy, motivational interviewing, and motivational incentives
Inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation programs. “Longer-term treatment programs for substance-related and addictive disorders can be highly effective and typically focus on remaining drug-free and resuming function within social, professional, and family responsibilities,” Felman writes. These can include short-term residential treatment, therapeutic communities, and recovery housing.
Self-help groups. “These may help the recovering individual meet others with the same addictive disorder which often boosts motivation and reduces feelings of isolation,” adds Felman. “They can also serve as a useful source of education, community, and information.” Examples include Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, SMART Recovery, Al-Anon and Nar-Anon, and Addiction Counselors.
Medications. “A person might take medication on a continuous basis when recovering from a substance-related disorder and its related complications, says Felman. “However, people most commonly use medications during detoxification to manage withdrawal symptoms. The medication will vary depending on the substance that the person is addicted to.”
Finally, even after leaving a treatment program, you will still need to make lifestyle changes. For example, you may have to distance yourself from people, places, or events that trigger old habits. And, you should replace them with healthier alternatives like exercise, mindfulness, breathing techniques.
And, if you do experience a setback, do not give up. Return to your support system to help you get back on track.