Drug addiction is quickly becoming a national crisis and impacting millions of families around the country. One of the biggest problems with drug addiction is that it’s a much-misunderstood disease that is often hard to completely cure. There are many different ways drug addiction is treated, and because each patient is different no one cure works consistently for everyone. In some cases, more than one treatment option is attempted. Some people finally find success after many years of struggling with an addiction. Here are some common and new ways drug addiction is being treated by the medical community.
One of the most common ways drug addiction is treated is through a behavioral therapy approach. Drug addiction is grouped with other mental health conditions and treated as such with certain types of behavioral therapies. Cognitive behavioral therapy can be very effective for some addicts. Therapists work with patients to help them recognize their behavior, understand potential triggers, and develop better coping strategies that don’t involve drugs or alcohol.
Another way drug addiction is treated is through an in-patient rehabilitation center. Going to rehab is a popular method of trying to treat an addiction to drugs or alcohol. There are many different in-patient rehab centers around the world that offer drug and alcohol addicts a fully-immersive program away from triggers and bad influences. These programs are very strict and require a complete commitment for a month or more.
Medication treatment is also getting more popular for certain types of addictive behavior. People struggling with alcohol addiction can talk to their regular physician to get information about medically assisted treatment for alcohol. Doctors can prescribe medications like benzodiazepines, naltrexone, disulfiram, or acamprosate to help reduce cravings for alcohol and deal with the serious health problems of sudden alcohol withdrawal. These drugs also have their own side effects, so they should only be administered by a licensed medical professional.
Drug and alcohol abusers can also take on recovery by themselves if working with medical professionals hasn’t worked for them. For decades, the 12-step self-help programs like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous have been helping people stay sober. Self-help programs require more willpower and discipline than other types of more inclusive treatment, so it’s important for addicts to commit to a program that meets their needs. Self-help treatment is also a good choice to use after completing a more intense rehab program.
Drug Replacement Therapy
Drug replacement therapy is also a possible method for treating addiction. People who can’t quit smoking or using other drugs may benefit from replacement therapy. This type of treatment attempts to trick the body into squashing cravings for drugs or cigarettes with a replacement ingredient that isn’t as harmful. Over time, the patient can be fully weaned off of the medically assisted treatment for smoking or another substance and be finally free of the addiction.
Motivational Enhancement Therapy
Drug addiction can also be treated with a type of behavioral therapy called Motivational Enhancement Therapyor MET. This type of therapy is used with the help of a trained therapist and can be effective for some addicts. It has a specific sequence of treatment sessions that focus on motivating the user for a change and detailing how to change the behavior. MET can also be used for addicts who have relapses and give them another chance at recovery.
Surprisingly, exercise may also be a viable option for treatment methods of drug and alcohol addiction. By itself, it may not be the best way to deal with a serious addiction, but in combination with another treatment, exercise has been shown to be effective. Participating in an exercise routine on a regular basis may help give someone a little more structure to the day and avoid turning to drugs or alcohol. The endorphins from exercise may also provide support from drug and alcohol cravings.
Mental Health Treatment
Some physicians and therapists have also found success in treating underlying mental health disorders in drug and alcohol addicts. There are addicts who have turned to substances to self medicate for psychiatric conditions, such as depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety. Instead of the self-medication approach, a doctor can work with an addict to design a legitimate treatment program for the mental health disorder, which could include prescription therapy and mental health counseling support.
Deep Brain Stimulation
Besides counseling, medication, and in-patient treatment, there are some other promising options on the horizon in addiction treatment. One such possibility is deep brain stimulation treatment. This type of therapy involves surgically implanting a device into the brain to change addictive behavior. Instead of having cravings and turning to drugs or alcohol, the patient would experience a surge of electrical current in the brain during certain times, stopping the desire for substances.
A final potential therapy option that is still being developed is vaccine administration. While there isn’t a vaccine that could completely eliminate drug addiction, there has been some promise in experimental HIV vaccines that could also help reduce the effect of opioid intoxication in the body. When delivered, these vaccines could help prevent the body from feeling the full impact of opioid intoxication, rendering the drug mostly useless for substance abusers.
Drug treatment may require many different types of therapies to truly cure a serious addiction to substances. More therapies are being developed for the future to give doctors and other medical professionals tools to use to curb the opioid addiction crisis in this country and around the world.