Written by Jaymi Tripp
It’s no secret that drug addiction is a massive problem. Simply put, it destroys lives, and families, and leads to thousands of deaths every year. Moreover, it has a huge financial impact, not only on the person who’s drug-addicted but also on society because more money is spent on healthcare and law enforcement.
Considering the above, it’s important to deal with addiction effectively. But now the question is: How do you do this? In this post, we’ll deal with this question in more detail.
Addiction – How Big of a Problem is it?
Before looking at how someone can break an addiction, let’s first consider how significant the addiction problem is. By doing this, we’ll emphasize how important recovery is. Fortunately, illustrating the extent of the problem is relatively easy by just looking at some statistics:
- About 20 million people were diagnosed with substance use disorders in 2019. In other words, these people have at least one addiction. Alcohol is by far the most widely abused substance in the US. When it comes to drugs, fentanyl is the most abused, followed by methamphetamine, cocaine, and then prescription opioids.
- Just over 90,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2020 and, on average, about 130 people die every day from opioid overdoses. Moreover, about 88,000 people die as a result of alcohol every year, and on average, 30 Americans die every day in alcohol-related car accidents. More worryingly, drug-related deaths have increased significantly and have tripled since 1990.
- Despite these high numbers, especially those for deaths, only about 10% of people with substance use disorders received treatment in 2020.
- When it comes to the financial consequences of addition, the statistics are just as staggering. For example, it’s estimated that drug addiction costs the United States economy about $600 billion every year. Apart from increased healthcare costs, addiction also leads to more crime, which in turn, leads to higher law enforcement costs. In addition, unpaid debts, missed payments, and foreclosure, which can all result from addiction, place additional strain on the financial system.
The Reasons Behind Addiction
Now that we’ve seen the extent of the addiction problem, we can look at why people become addicted in the first place. After all, to be in a position to break an addiction, it’s vital to understand how addiction works. To have this understanding, we should look at the reasons behind addiction and answer a few fundamental questions.
The first of these questions is: Why do people take drugs? Well, there are several reasons which could, either in isolation or combined, move a person to take a drug. For example, some people might take drugs to feel good because drugs cause, initially at least, feelings of intense pleasure. And because anxiety is a common problem, some people take drugs to lessen anxiety and relieve stress.
It’s also important to not discount social pressure’s role in promoting drug use. In fact, in teens, this could be one of the most significant causes of drug use, as peer pressure is immense.
No matter the reason for a person’s drug use, the purported benefits soon cease to exist. This is because a drug’s effects are amplified when a person first uses it. Then, as the body, and brain, adapts, these effects become less prominent and typical daily activities could become less pleasurable.
The effect of this is that the drug then becomes necessary to just feel and function normally. Soon thereafter, addiction causes the person to spiral out of control, and they’ll fail to control their need for the drugs, despite the disastrous effects it has on their lives.
Flowing from this first question is: Why do some people become addicted and others not? This is because drug use impacts different people in different ways, and it’s often a series of risk factors like experimentation with drugs, availability of drugs, lack of parental supervision, and many others that will determine if a person becomes addicted. And it’s important to not discount the person’s brain and biology in increasing the risk of addiction.
We’ve now covered why addiction is such a significant problem and why it happens, so let’s look at how addiction can be treated. Here, the first thing to understand is that addiction, like other chronic diseases, can’t typically be cured through treatment. However, addiction can be effectively managed with treatment. These treatments aim to help drug-addicted people change their behavior and regain control of their lives.
Let’s face it, making any change can be challenging, especially when that change is breaking addiction. Before a patient makes a change, they might be in denial about their addiction, become more aware of the challenges that lie ahead, and realize what they’ll need to do to overcome those challenges. So, to make these changes successfully requires a dedicated approach that involves:
- Deciding to change. This is often the most important step in the process of recovery. This is because acknowledging that change is needed also, by implication, acknowledges that there is a problem that should be dealt with. Keep in mind, though, that deciding to make a change can take some time as it requires that patients consider what needs to change and how they’ll achieve the change.
- Preparing to change. Once the patient has decided that change is necessary and what they want to achieve, they’ll need to prepare for the change. Depending on their circumstances, this might mean removing any substances from their environment and eliminating any triggers that could lead to drug use.
- Seeking social support. During recovery, it’s vital that drug-addicted people have support. Unfortunately, many of their relationships will be built on drugs and addictive behavior. Ultimately, this means that they’ll need to find support groups, connect with friends and family that will support them, or turn to drug and alcohol counseling.
- Finding healthcare providers. Finally, it’s always a good idea to talk to doctors or other healthcare practitioners to determine what type of treatment will be necessary. We’ll deal with these different treatments in more detail below.
There are two main treatment strategies that can be helpful for addiction. Whether they’re effective, depends on the specific addiction. For example, research has shown that the first line of defense against opioid addiction should be medication. In contrast, for addiction to drugs like cannabis, there are no effective medical treatments and, as such, should be treated with behavioral therapies. The most important aspect, however, is that any specific treatment be tailored to the patient’s needs.
Let’s look at these two treatment modalities in more detail.
Medication is often used in addiction treatment to treat withdrawal symptoms. This is crucially important as, when patients stop using drugs, they’ll experience withdrawal that might hamper recovery. Some symptoms of this withdrawal include restlessness and sleeplessness, malaise, and could even include anxiety, depression, or other mental health disorders.
Medication can also be used successfully to keep patients in treatment. These medications work slowly to reduce the cravings or impulses for a specific drug, which then helps patients focus on therapy, counseling, or other strategies to improve their treatment. Over time, this then has the effect of helping the brain adapt to the absence of a drug.
Finally, medications can also be used to remove any triggers that can be linked to drug use. By removing these triggers, there are no cues for drug use and, as a result, prevents relapse. This could help patients stay in recovery.
As mentioned earlier, for some drugs there are no medications, with the result that the primary treatment for addiction is behavioral therapy. Even for the drugs mentioned above where medication should be the first line of treatment, behavioral therapy or counseling is also often indicated in order to improve treatment outcomes. This is because therapy allows patients to deal with triggers that lead to drug use more effectively. Also, therapy might improve the effectiveness of medications and assist patients to stay in treatment for longer.
Depending on the patient’s personal circumstances and the severity of their addiction, there are several types of therapy that could be used including cognitive-behavioral therapy, contingency management, family therapy, and motivational enhancement therapy.
Quality Treatment Helps Patients Beat Drug Addiction
We’ve now seen what’s necessary in order to treat addiction, and what treatments there are. By considering these aspects, you’ve probably realized two things. Firstly, stopping drug use and recovering is a long and multi-faceted process. Secondly, based on this, the process seems intimidating.
This is where a treatment center like NewDay, which provides quality treatment comes in. We offer treatment programs that are designed with the patient in mind and aim to lead the patient to recovery. With this in mind, we offer a range of programs for those suffering from addiction including outpatient treatment, residential treatment, mental health counseling, and more.
Ultimately, we offer the tools and strategies those suffering from addiction need to beat drug addiction and take back their lives.