Addiction is an unfortunate reality faced by millions of Americans, men and women alike, of various age groups. Rates of addiction have surged, in part due to the pharmaceutical abuse epidemic, making it a topic of paramount concern. Unfortunately, many of the approaches enacted to combat this crisis are flawed in their inherent outlook and methodology. A proper treatment regimen should consider the nature of the addiction in order to develop an effective strategy that supports the afflicted individual in all respects of their rehabilitation.
What Is Addiction and How Should It Be Treated?
While the types of addiction are diverse, ranging from illicit drug dependence to alcohol abuse, the hallmarks of addiction are relatively constant and should be intimately understood for the purposes of developing effective treatment plans. Addiction involves two primary features:
• Mental dependence
• Physical dependence
It is crucial to understand that addiction is characterized by both mental and physical changes. The psychological effects of addiction are profound and can adversely affect an individual’s capacity for work and socialization. It is often misunderstood that addiction is purely a mental affliction. In reality, addiction almost always involves physical components, which make overcoming it that much more challenging. Prolonged abuse of a substance initiates a series of complex metabolic and hormonal changes within the body, which eventually render it dependent on the substance to maintain homeostasis. Homeostasis describes the vast number of processes that the body undertakes to keep its internal environment sustainable in a changing external environment. This is exactly why drug addiction is so dangerous; abruptly ceasing the use of the substance in question usually results in various complications and side-effects, collectively known as withdrawal. Withdrawals are potentially fatal physical responses that occur because the body is finding difficulty maintaining homeostasis without adequate consumption of the substance. Withdrawals can be extremely painful and may last longer than 7 days. Common symptoms include:
• Restlessness & anxiety
• Excessive perspiration
• Disruptions in sleeping pattern
• Hallucinations (auditory and/or visual)
• Significant blood pressure irregularities
Clearly, addiction and the process of rehabilitation are very sensitive matters which require proper treatment to avoid excessive complications and reduce the associated risks. A licensed drug treatment and rehabilitation facility will be fully equipped to handle all aspects of the rehabilitation process. Initially, a comprehensive assessment will be performed, which will lay the subsequent groundwork for a successful program. The next phase involves a complete detoxification in which the substances are eliminated from the body. This phase typically involves withdrawals, making it critical to be at a facility that can mitigate the pain and possible complications. Detox should then be followed by a complete rehabilitation period which includes education and behavioral augmentation. Lastly, an effective treatment facility will offer some form of post-treatment care, sometimes referred to as “extended care”. Together, these factors facilitate a rehabilitation process that can successfully treat both pain and addiction.
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