Chemical dependency has been a problem in the United States for decades. The issue of drug addiction leads to tens of thousands of deaths per year, and with the emergence of prescription medication and opioids, that number has only been rising in recent years.
Drug addiction can have a major impact on the brain’s functioning and can lead to a number of side effects and symptoms. Some of these symptoms include urges to use, increased drug tolerance, withdrawal symptoms when not on the drug, and more. Severe drug abuse increases the risk of overdose and death.
Luckily, there are treatment options for those suffering from chemical dependency. Treatment facilities specializing in drug and alcohol will work to help patients safely come off drugs, learn how to stay sober, and educate patients on the specifics of addiction. During treatment patients will likely go through a detoxification process, group and individual therapy, and be treated for co-occurring mental health issues.
What is Chemical Dependency?
Chemical dependency and drug addiction used to be thought of as a social problem in which an individual lacked the necessary willpower to stop using a substance. Today however, addiction is considered a mental health problem and chronic disease characterized by uncontrollable, drug seeking behavior that leads to lasting and harmful changes in the brain.
Chemical dependency generally begins with the voluntary act of using drugs but over time a person’s judgement when it comes to drugs becomes more clouded due to chemical changes in the brain and body. Eventually taking the drug can become compulsive due to the long-term effects of drug exposure on brain function. Because addiction affects parts of the brain involved in reward and motivation, learning, memory, and control over behavior, it is easy to see how addiction can overtake a person’s judgement.
Luckily, there are options available for people who are dealing with chemical dependency issues to help them get sober and stay sober.
Drug addiction and chemical dependency is complex but can be treated, however it is not easy. Due to the fact that addiction is a chronic disease, people can’t just stop using substances for a few days and be cured. Most patients will need long-term care to stop using.
It should be known that drug addiction is a relapsing disease. Relapse is the return to drug use after an attempt to stop. Due to this, most patients will likely struggle with sobriety their entire lives.
Addiction treatment will aim to help patients stop using drugs, stay drug free, and be a positive influence at the family, at work, and in society.
There are a number of treatment methods that can be used for those struggling with addiction, most treatment facilities elect to use many options including
- Counseling and therapy
- Detoxification and medical devices to treat withdrawal symptoms
- Treatment for co-occurring mental health issues
- Outpatient care and long-term followup
Many long-term, inpatient facilities will offer these features to patients while providing care 24 hours a day in a non-hospital setting. Some facilities will use medications to help patients deal with withdrawal symptoms and help avoid relapse. Popular forms of medication-assisted treatment include methadone, suboxone, and Vivitrol.
Therapy and counseling in both group and individualized settings is one of the most common forms of treatment for chemical dependency. During these sessions, patients will learn many things about addiction including their specific triggers, biological effects of addiction, tips to prevent relapse, and more. During this time, patients will also have time to build up their social support networks through family and group therapy sessions.
Depending on the severity of the issue, detoxification can be an option for some. Detox will generally take place of a number of days and is there to ensure that patients will safely get through the withdrawal symptoms that are associated with newfound sobriety. Some types of chemical dependence, such as alcohol or heroin can cause incredibly harsh side effects when substance abuse is stopped. If the problem is serious enough it can even lead to death. Because of this, treatment centers give patients the medical supervision they need to safely get off of these substances.
Treatment of Co-occurring Issues
Many, but not all, treatment facilities will make it a priority to treat co-occurring mental disorders that are commonly associated with substance abuse. For example, depression and anxiety are two of the most common types of mental health problems that substance abusers suffer from. Physicians will work to identify and treat these problems. Dealing with these underlying issues can go a long way in promoting long-term sobriety.
Following a stay at an inpatient, or residential, facility, many treatment centers will have outpatient services available for patients to stay motivated and encouraged to stay sober. At outpatient facilities, patients will continue to speak with others in recovery in the form of group therapy sessions. Many treatment facilities will elect to continue individual therapy sessions during inpatient treatment as well. Outpatient treatment is important for those in recovery.
According to the Journal of Psychiatric Services, “[Intensive Outpatient Services] have emerges as a critical facet of 21st century addiction treatment for people...and they allow participants to avoid or step down successfully from inpatient services.”
At Landmark Recovery, we offer patients access to our holistic and evidence-based approach to chemical dependency treatment at one of our state-of-the-art facilities. Our staff is equipped with the knowledge and tools to help patients safely detox and get past the first stages of sobriety. Once getting safely detoxed and through the withdrawal symptoms, patients will be exposed to multiple individual and group therapy sessions where they will learn more about addiction and how to prevent relapse. Landmark also utilizes intensive outpatient treatment to help patients following discharge from one of our residential facilities.
If you are interested and would like to learn more about what Landmark can offer you or a loved one, please reach out to our admissions staff today and visit our website.