Frequently Asked Addiction Treatment Questions

1. What is Drug Addiction?

Addiction is a chronic, often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences to the individual that is addicted and to those around them. Drug addiction is a brain disease because the abuse of drugs leads to changes in the structure and function of the brain. Although it is true that for most people the initial decision to take drugs is voluntary, over time the changes in the brain caused by repeated drug abuse can affect a person’s self control and ability to make sound decisions, and at the same time send intense impulses to take drugs.

It is because of these changes in the brain that it is so challenging for a person who is addicted to stop abusing drugs. Fortunately, there are treatments at our addiction rehab that help people counteract addiction’s powerful disruptive effects and regain control. Research shows that combining addiction treatment medications, if available, with behavioral therapy is the best way to ensure success for most patients. Addiction Treatment approaches that are tailored to each patient’s drug abuse patterns and any co-occurring medical, psychiatric, and social problems can lead to sustained recovery and a life without drug abuse.

Similar to other chronic, relapsing diseases, such as diabetes, asthma, or heart disease, drug addiction can be managed successfully. And, as with other chronic diseases, it is not uncommon for a person to relapse and begin abusing drugs again. Relapse, however, does not signal failure-rather, it indicates that addiction treatment should be reinstated, adjusted, or that alternate treatment is needed to help the individual regain control and recover.

2. What is Alcohol Addiction, Alcohol Dependence, or Alcoholism?

Alcoholism is drinking alcoholic beverages at a level that interferes with physical health, mental health, and social, family, or job responsibilities.

Alcoholism is a type of drug addiction. Often, alcohol abuse develops from efforts to self-treat an illness. There are both physical and mental dependence on alcohol.

Alcoholism is divided into 2 categories: dependence and abuse. People who are dependent on alcohol spend a great deal of time drinking alcohol, and getting it.

Physical dependence involves:

  • A need for increasing amounts of alcohol to get drunk or achieve the desired effect (tolerance)
  • Alcohol-related illnesses
  • Memory lapses (blackouts) after drinking episodes
  • Withdrawal symptoms when alcohol use is stopped

The most severe drinking behavior includes long drinking binges that lead to mental or physical problems. Some people are able to gain control over their dependence in earlier phases before they totally lose control. But no one knows which heavy drinkers will be able to regain control and which will not.

There is no known common cause of alcoholism. However, several factors may play a role in its development. A person who has an alcoholic parent is more likely to become an alcoholic than a person without alcoholism in the immediate family.

Research suggests that certain genes may increase the risk of alcoholism, but which genes or how they work is not known.

Psychological factors may include:

  • A need for anxiety relief
  • Conflict in relationships
  • Depression
  • Low self-esteem

Social factors include:

  • Ease of getting alcohol
  • Peer pressure
  • Social acceptance of alcohol use
  • Stressful lifestyle

The incidence of alcohol intake and related problems is rising. Data indicates that about 15% of people in the United States are problem drinkers, and about 5% to 10% of male drinkers and 3% to 5% of female drinkers could be diagnosed as alcohol dependent.

Addiction rehab programs have varying success rates, but many people with alcohol dependency make a full recovery.

Information contained above is courtesy of U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health for more information please visit: http://www.nlm.nih.gov

3. What is Dual Diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis occurs when someone has both a mental disorder and an alcohol or drug problem. These conditions occur together frequently. In particular, alcohol and drug problems tend to occur with

Sometimes the mental problem occurs first. This can lead people to use alcohol or drugs that make them feel better temporarily. Sometimes the substance abuse occurs first. Over time, that can lead to emotional and mental problems.

To get better, someone with co-occurring disorders should seek dual diagnosis treatment.

Information contained above is courtesy of The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for more information please visit: http://www.nlm.nih.gov

4. What is Alcohol Detoxification?

Withdrawal from alcohol is done in a controlled, supervised setting in which medications relieve symptoms. Detoxification usually takes 4 to 7 days either at an addiction rehab or at a detox center.

Examination for other medical problems is necessary. For example, liver and blood clotting problems are common.

A balanced diet with vitamin supplements is important. Complications can occur with alcohol withdrawal, such as delirium tremens (DT’s), which could be fatal. Depression or other mood disorders should be evaluated and treated. Often, alcohol abuse develops from efforts to self-treat an illness.

Information contained above is courtesy of The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for more information please visit: http://www.nlm.nih.gov

5. What is Drug Detox or Drug Detoxification?

Detoxification is the gradual withdrawal of an abused substance in a controlled environment. Sometimes a drug with a similar action is taken instead, to reduce the side effects and risks of withdrawal. Detoxification can be done on an inpatient or outpatient basis at an addiction rehab or detox center.

For narcotic dependence, some people are treated with methadone or similar drugs to prevent withdrawal and abuse. The goal is to enable the person to live as normal a life as possible.

Information contained above is courtesy of The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for more information please visit: http://www.nlm.nih.gov

6. What is addiction rehab or addiction treatment?

Treatment varies depending on the type of drug and the characteristics of the patient. The best programs provide a combination of therapies and other services.

There are many addictive drugs, and treatments for specific drugs can differ. Addiction rehab and Addiction treatment also varies depending on the characteristics of the patient.

Problems associated with an individual’s drug addiction can vary significantly. People who are addicted to drugs come from all walks of life. Many suffer from mental health, occupational health, or social problems that make their addictive disorders much more difficult to treat. Even if there are few associated problems, the severity of addiction itself ranges widely among people.

A variety of scientifically based approaches to drug addiction treatment exist. Addiction rehab can include behavioral therapy (such as counseling, cognitive therapy, or psychotherapy), medications, or their combination. Behavioral therapies offer people strategies for coping with their drug cravings, teach them ways to avoid drugs and prevent relapse, and help them deal with relapse if it occurs. When a person’s drug-related behavior places him or her at higher risk for AIDS or other infectious diseases, behavioral therapies can help to reduce the risk of disease transmission. Case management and referral to other medical, psychological, and social services are crucial components of treatment for many patients.

7. Why can’t drug addicts quit on their own?

Nearly all addicted individuals believe in the beginning that they can stop using drugs on their own, and most try to stop without treatment. However, most of these attempts result in failure to achieve long-term abstinence. Research has shown that long-term drug use results in significant changes in brain function that persist long after the individual stops using drugs. These drug-induced changes in brain function may have many behavioral consequences, including the compulsion to use drugs despite adverse consequences and the defining characteristic of addiction.

Long-term drug use results in significant changes in brain function that persist long after the individual stops using drugs.

Understanding that addiction has such an important biological component may help explain an individual’s difficulty in achieving and maintaining abstinence without treatment. Psychological stress from work or family problems, social cues (such as meeting individuals from one’s drug-using past), or the environment (such as encountering streets, objects, or even smells associated with drug use) can interact with biological factors to hinder attainment of sustained abstinence and make relapse more likely. Research studies indicate that even the most severely addicted individuals can participate actively in treatment and that active participation is essential to good outcomes.

Information contained above is courtesy of The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for more information please visit: http://www.drugabuse.gov

8. How long does drug addiction treatment usually last?

Individuals progress through drug addiction treatment at various speeds, so there is no predetermined length of treatment. However, research has shown unequivocally that good outcomes are contingent on adequate lengths of treatment. Generally, for residential or outpatient treatment, participation for less than 90 days is of limited or no effectiveness, and treatments lasting significantly longer often are indicated. For methadone maintenance, 12 months of treatment is the minimum, and some opiate-addicted individuals will continue to benefit from methadone maintenance treatment over a period of years.

Good outcomes are contingent on adequate lengths of treatment.

Many people who enter treatment drop out before receiving all the benefits that treatment can provide. Successful outcomes may require more than one treatment experience. Many addicted individuals have multiple episodes of treatment, often with a cumulative impact.

Information contained above is courtesy of The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for more information please visit: http://www.drugabuse.gov

9. Is the use of medications like suboxone simply replacing one drug addiction with another?

No. As used in maintenance treatment, methadone treatment and LAAM are not heroin substitutes. They are safe and effective medications for opiate addiction that are administered by mouth in regular, fixed doses. Their pharmacological effects are markedly different from those of heroin.

As used in maintenance treatment, methadone and LAAM are not heroin substitutes.

Injected, snorted, or smoked heroin causes an almost immediate “rush” or brief period of euphoria that wears off very quickly, terminating in a “crash.” The individual then experiences an intense craving to use more heroin to stop the crash and reinstate the euphoria. The cycle of euphoria, crash, and craving – repeated several times a day – leads to a cycle of addiction and behavioral disruption. These characteristics of heroin use result from the drug’s rapid onset of action and its short duration of action in the brain. An individual who uses heroin multiple times per day subjects his or her brain and body to marked, rapid fluctuations as the opiate effects come and go. These fluctuations can disrupt a number of important bodily functions. Because heroin is illegal, addicted persons often become part of a volatile drug-using street culture characterized by hustling and crimes for profit.

Methadone and LAAM have far more gradual onsets of action than heroin, and as a result, patients stabilized on these medications do not experience any rush. In addition, both medications wear off much more slowly than heroin, so there is no sudden crash, and the brain and body are not exposed to the marked fluctuations seen with heroin use. Maintenance treatment with methadone or LAAM markedly reduces the desire for heroin. If an individual maintained on adequate, regular doses of methadone (once a day) or LAAM (several times per week) tries to take heroin, the euphoric effects of heroin will be significantly blocked. According to research, patients undergoing maintenance treatment do not suffer the medical abnormalities and behavioral destabilization that rapid fluctuations in drug levels cause in heroin addicts.

Information contained above is courtesy of The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for more information please visit: http://www.drugabuse.gov

10. Where Do 12-Step or Self-Help Programs Fit Into Drug Addiction Treatment?

Self-help groups can complement and extend the effects of professional treatment. The most prominent self-help groups are those affiliated with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and Cocaine Anonymous (CA), all of which are based on the 12-step model, and Smart Recovery®. Most drug addiction treatment programs encourage patients to participate in a self-help group during and after formal treatment.

Information contained above is courtesy of The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for more information please visit: http://www.drugabuse.gov

11. Is Drug Addiction Treatment Worth Its Cost?

Drug addiction rehab is cost-effective in reducing drug use and its associated health and social costs. Treatment is less expensive than alternatives, such as not treating addicts or simply incarcerating addicts.

According to several conservative estimates, every $1 invested in addiction rehab and treatment programs yield a return of between $4 and $7 in reduced drug-related crime, criminal justice costs, and theft alone. When savings related to health care are included, total savings can exceed costs by a ratio of 12 to 1.

Addiction Treatment Florida, Addiction Rehab

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