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Drug Treatment

Even the most motivated individuals seeking to overcome a drug addiction problem is going to have difficulty "going it alone". For this reason, experts in the field of addiction strongly recommend drug treatment for recovery from addiction. There are simply too many factors working against an individual if they try to stop "cold turkey", trying to ease themselves off the drugs to break the addiction cycle. A drug treatment program takes these same individuals and gives them support and a structured plan. These tools allow the individual a much greater chance of successfully recovering from their drug addiction. With the variety of different drug rehab programs across the country, there are as many treatment styles as there are addictions in the United States. When choosing a drug treatment center, the most important thing to inquire about is the program's success rate.

Drug addiction is complex, characterized by intense and, at times, uncontrollable drug cravings, along with compulsive drug seeking and drug use that persist even in the face of devastating consequences. Recovery though drug treatment is often the only way out of substance abuse. While the path to drug addiction often begins with the voluntary act of taking drugs, over time a person's ability to choose not to do so often becomes compromised, and a drug treatment program can help the individual to regain control of their lives. Because drug abuse and addiction have so many dimensions and disrupt so many aspects of an individual's life, professional drug treatment is often the only way to untangle this complex web of addiction. Effective drug treatment programs typically incorporate many components, each directed to a particular aspect of the drug addiction. Drug treatment must help the individual stop using drugs, maintain a drug-free lifestyle, and achieve productive functioning in the family, at work, and in society.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), too often, addiction goes untreated: 23.2 million persons (9.4 percent of the U.S. population) aged 12 or older needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol use problem in 2007. Of these individuals, 2.4 million (10.4 percent of those who needed treatment) received treatment at a specialty facility (i.e., hospital, drug or alcohol rehabilitation or mental health center). Thus, 20.8 million persons (8.4 percent of the population aged 12 or older) needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol use problem but did not receive it. These estimates are very similar to those in previous years and appear to be currently on the rise. For this reason alone the need for drug treatment for addiction has never been greater.

Common features in most Drug Treatment Programs are detox and counseling or group classes as described in detail below:


Detox is the first step in the drug treatment process. An individual in drug treatment must complete drug detox before the rest of the rehab process can begin. Detox can be accomplished in a variety of settings, depending on how complex or medically compromised a person's health and drug problem are. Detox settings include medical hospitals and alcohol and drug detox treatment facilities. The goal of drug detox is to rid the body of toxins accumulated by drug use. The cleansing of the system that takes place during detox in drug treatment helps reduce the risk of relapse during treatment and represents the defeat of the physical addiction to drugs the first step of drug detox within a drug treatment program is drug withdrawal. The definition of withdrawal is "Discontinuation of the use of an addictive substance, and the physiological and mental readjustment that accompanies such discontinuation." Once an individual has discontinued using drugs, physical and behavioral withdrawal symptoms may follow.

Drug detox is performed in many different ways depending on where you decide to receive treatment. Most drug detox centers simply provide treatment to avoid physical withdrawal to alcohol and other drugs. Many experts in the field of addiction disagree with this method, as the addict does not feel the physical discomfort associated with their drug abuse. Some drug treatment professionals believe that the discomfort involved in a natural detox, when medically possible, can be the primary motivation in an individual not returning to their drug of choice and remaining sober. Detoxification should cover all aspects of the individual's withdrawal and purification from drugs. Some drug treatment centers have had astounding long term recovery success rates using a purification process to remove the drug residuals .Without this process, drug residues can remain in one's body and cause cravings for years after drug use has ceased. This particular form of detox has been proven to be vital step in a successful drug detox, and long term sobriety.

Not every treatment facility offers detox as part of the program. In these cases, the admissions staff will recommend a detox facility in the area. Once detox is completed off-site, the individual is free to enter the core treatment program. When an individual chooses to attempt detox alone they are often without support of any kind. Family members are not trained to provide them with the support the addict needs and they will be unable to help them fight temptation when it inevitably arises. The unfortunate result is relapse and this can be very serious. One of the most common circumstances surrounding a drug overdose is a relapse after a period of being clean and sober, no matter how brief. Tolerance for the addict's drug of choice and their body's chemistry - especially during a tumultuous detox period - is an ever-changing thing. The balance can be thrown off during detox and many addicts take the same dose of their drug of choice as they did before the detox and the body cannot handle it, and a deadly overdose occurs.

Counseling or Group Classes

Counseling is often at the heart of most drug treatment programs. Drug treatment counseling sessions or group classes come into play once the detox process is over and the withdrawal symptoms cease to exist. In drug treatment programs, individual and group counseling sessions are where the problem of drug addiction is addressed at the source, by uncovering past events and triggers for drug use. The individual in drug treatment may meet one-on-one with their counselor or in a group with other recovering addicts in the program to form a support structure that promotes recovery.

Drug treatment counseling can be a great asset in helping the addict to understand the reasons that they began abusing drugs in the first place, and to gain the tools necessary to avoid relapse. Drug treatment counseling also helps the individual to devise solutions to their problems, and helps them to deal with various challenges they may face in the future. Most importantly, drug treatment group classes and counseling help an individual to understand the negative effects that they have created with their drug use. This, in turn, often helps them to see the importance of leading a sober and responsible life in the future.

There was a time when counseling and group classes in drug treatment was not considered to be very important. But now with the entrance of holistic modes of treatment, group classes and counseling have became an important ingredient of drug treatment programs. Counseling sessions and group classes in drug treatment programs also help the individual to get back his confidence and walk into the real world with his head high. The possibility of a relapse always lingers after drug treatment, but group counseling helps the patient to move around with a strong determination once the rehab program is over.

Different Types of Drug Treatment Program

Today, there are numerous alternative drug treatment methods and innovative recovery therapies to help individuals through the process of becoming substance-free and remaining that way. With the advent of the alternative treatment for drugs approach, you can now find a wide range of targeted treatment and recovery programs such as:

  • Drug rehab programs developed exclusively for women
  • Drug treatment programs for teens as well as adults
  • Executive addiction treatment and recovery programs for upper-level corporate employees
  • Faith-based and/or Holistic drug treatment and recovery programs
  • Long term residential drug treatment or outpatient drug treatment
  • Luxury and/or private drug rehab programs
  • Treatment and recovery programs that specifically address a particular substance such as cocaine addiction or prescription pain killer addiction treatment for drugs

In terms of comprehensive programs, there are two basic forms of drug treatment: outpatient and residential. Within these two program types, there are an almost endless number of treatment styles and modalities, but most come within the scope of these two styles.

Residential drug treatment- The most powerful form of drug treatment available, residential drug rehab represents 24 hour a day care at a facility away from the individual's home environment. By temporarily relocating to the facility, the individual is given a way to shut out all the distractions in their life and focus solely on recovery from addiction. Another advantage of residential drug treatment is that it provides much needed structure at a time when the individual is coming out of the chaos of drug addiction.

Outpatient drug treatment-Many individuals can neither afford, nor find the time to drop everything and enter into a residential treatment program. For them, outpatient care offers the best alternative. Outpatient drug treatment features all the key elements of rehab and takes place during the day so that the individual is free to return home in the evening. Outpatient programs tend to cost less. It is important to note, according to current statistics available from drug treatment centers across the country, long term residential treatment is by far the best choice. In after drug treatment follow up studies, individuals attending outpatient treatment centers, had a much higher rate or relapse in compared to those individuals completing long term residential treatment.

Principles of Effective Treatment According to Research
Scientific research since the mid-1970s shows that treatment can help patients addicted to drugs stop using, avoid relapse, and successfully recover their lives. Based on this research, key principles have emerged that should form the basis of any effective treatment programs:

  • Treatment needs to be readily available.
  • Effective treatment attends to multiple needs of the individual, not just his or her drug abuse.
  • Remaining in treatment for an adequate period of time is critical.
  • Counseling-individual and/or group-and other behavioral therapies are the most commonly used forms of drug abuse treatment.
  • An individual's treatment and services plan must be assessed continually and modified as necessary to ensure that it meets his or her changing needs.
  • Medically assisted detoxification is only the first stage of addiction treatment and by itself does little to change long-term drug abuse.
  • Treatment does not need to be voluntary to be effective.
  • Drug use during treatment must be monitored continuously, as lapses during treatment do occur.
  • Treatment programs should assess patients for the presence of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases as well as provide targeted risk-reduction counseling to help patients modify or change behaviors that place them at risk of contracting or spreading infectious.

The most common myth concerning drug treatment is the misconception that it has to be the addict that initiates drug treatment. The fact is that a high number of individuals go into drug treatment either because the court ordered them to do so, or because loved ones urged them to seek treatment. The good news is that, according to scientific studies, people who enter drug treatment programs in which they face "high" pressure to deal with their addiction can benefit from treatment, regardless of the reason they sought drug treatment in the first place. It is of the utmost importance to seek drug treatment at the first sign of drug addiction to avoid the negative side effects of substance abuse, which could include overdose and in some cases, death.

In 2007, 25.4% of homeless individuals who were admitted to drug treatment reported past year crack use.

96% of all drug treatment admissions in 2007 were due to alcohol, opiates (including heroin and prescription painkillers), marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine.

In 2003, around $21 billion, in health care, was spent on drug and alcohol treatment.

In 1999, around 6.3 million adults were in drug treatment centers.

743 older adults (ages 55 and up) reported heroin as their drug of choice prior to entering drug treatment in 2007.

In 2008, 4.0 million individuals aged 12 or older received treatment for alcohol or illicit drugs problems.

3,695 older adults (ages 55 and up) reported alcohol as their drug of choice prior to entering drug treatment in 2007.

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