Drug Abuse and Addiction

 

MedicineNet.com

An unfortunate fact about the treatment of drug addiction is that it remains largely underutilized by most sufferers. Facts about the use of drug treatment include that less than 10% of people with a milder substance-use disorder and less than 40% of those with a more entrenched substance-use disorder seek professional help. Those statistics do not seem to be associated with socioeconomic or other demographic traits but do seem to be associated with the presence of other mental-health problems (co-morbidity).

The primary goals of drug-use disorder treatment (also called recovery) are abstinence, relapse prevention, and rehabilitation. During the initial stage of abstinence, an individual who suffers from chemical dependency may need help avoiding or decreasing the effects of withdrawal. That process is called detoxification or “detox.” That part of treatment is primarily performed in a hospital or other inpatient setting, where medications used to lessen withdrawal symptoms and close medical monitoring can be performed. The┬ámedications used for detox depend on the drug the person is dependent upon. For example, people with alcohol use disorder might receive medications like sedatives (benzodiazepines) or blood pressure medications to decrease palpitations and blood pressure, or seizure medications to prevent seizures during the detoxification process.

For many substances of abuse, the detox process is the most difficult part of dealing with the physical symptoms of addiction and tends to last days to a few weeks. Medications that are sometimes used to help addicted individuals abstain from drug use on a long-term basis also depend on the specific drug of addiction. For example, individuals who are dependent on narcotics like Percodan (a combination of aspirin and oxycodone hydrochloride) heroin, or Vicodin, Vicodin ES, Anexsia, Lorcet, Lorcet Plus, or Norco (combinations of hydrocodone and acetaminophen) often benefit from receiving longer-acting, less addictive narcotic-like substances like methadone (Methadose). People with alcohol addiction might try to avoid alcohol intake by taking disulfiram (Antabuse), which produces nausea, stomach cramping, and vomiting in reaction to the person consuming alcohol.

Often, much more difficult and time-consuming than recovery from the physical aspects of drug dependency is psychological addiction. For people who may have less severe drug use disorder, the symptoms of psychological addiction may be able to be managed in an outpatient treatment program. However, those who have a more severe addiction, have relapsed after participation in outpatient programs, or who also suffer from a severe mental health condition might need the elevated level of structure, support, and monitoring provided in an inpatient drug treatment center, often called “rehab.” Following such inpatient treatment, many people with this level of drug use disorder can benefit from living in a sober living community, that is, a group-home setting where counselors provide continued sobriety support, structure, and monitoring on a daily basis.

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