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Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Truth About Drug Addiction

Drug Addiction has been defined as an obsessive craving or dependency on some type of narcotic drug, illegal or otherwise. It is the compulsive and intense desire to obtain the drug without regard to any resulting negative consequences. 

A person may have gradually developed this dependency over time as with certain sedatives like Benzodiazepines or he may have become instantly addicted as with certain stimulants and opiates like Cocaine and Heroin. 

Regardless of the method, a drug addict believes that he will get sick and die without his drug of choice. And if the addict is denied his drug, he will actually experience physical withdrawal symptoms that can be very severe. 

The truth is that there is no cure for drug addiction, only treatments. The good news is that, with intensive and ongoing treatment a drug addict can successfully recover and lead a productive and normal life.

There are many misconceptions about what Drug Addiction really is. At first glance, you might think that any dependency on a drug meets the definition. However, a drug addiction is not to be confused with an actual dependency on a certain medication. For instance, if you were to refuse a diabetic his insulin, he would probably die, but this is not an addiction. 

This is a real medical need for a continued flow of medicine. But in the case of a heroin addict, he might think he is going to die while being refused his heroin, but he probably won’t. He will more than likely need close medical supervision during this withdrawal period. But after he has survived his withdrawal symptoms and his body is clean of the drug, he can function just fine without heroin.

The long range goal in the treatment for drug addiction is lasting abstinence. Many times drug addicts will abstain for a period of time only to relapse into drug use again. The short range or immediate goal for treatment of a drug addict is to at least reduce the use of drugs and to improve the patient’s ability to function normally. 

Residential treatment facilities are in place in virtually every state in the US and they begin with a detoxification program. Typically, the patient will remain in the facility for 6-12 months while a highly structured program is in place to hopefully result in a drug-free individual.

Medications will be administered to ease the withdrawal symptoms and counseling will begin to assist in behavior changes. Methadone is one such medication that targets the same areas in the brain that was affected by the heroin or morphine previously. Besides easing withdrawal, it also relieves the craving for the previously used drug. 

A program to help prevent relapsing is also in place at these treatment centers. The average success rate for drug treatment centers is anywhere from 2% to 20%. However, there are some treatment centers that enjoy a 75% success rate. If you are looking into a particular facility, ask the administrators to provide you with their success rates statistics.

Outpatient programs involve mostly individual and group therapy as part of the behavioral treatment. Cognitive Therapy along with Motivational Incentives basically make up the programs at an outpatient clinic. These therapies involve helping the patient to understand the types of situations that lead to drug abuse and then reinforce that with positive encouragement to continue abstaining from drugs. 

The cost of private facilities can be very expensive and range as high as $3000 to $5000 per month. There are also state funded facilities for those who qualify. A couple of good resources for finding a treatment center in your area are the following links:

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