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Addiction is a cruel and unwanted disease which has the potential to affect any one of us. It is all-consuming, taking over the life of the addict and causing them to risk losing everything which they hold dear.
Recovery is a tough process, but taking the first steps can be the key to a whole new life. Whether you are suffering from addiction or supporting a loved one, here are some of the first steps to take to help set you on the path to wellness.
To treat addiction, the addict must first admit that there is a problem. Substance abuse and dependence becomes a problem which it takes over the person’s life, disrupting aspects such as recreation, relationships, work and school. The addict must recognise and admit that their use of the substance is an issue, and then they will be in a position to seek help and treatment from a counselor, medical professional or a drug and alcohol rehab center.
Different treatments are available for different individuals, and there is a range of factors which may affect the choice. For most addicts, a crucial part of their treatment will involve staying away from the addictive substance for the rest of their lives, and this can be difficult.
Plans will alter depending on the severity of the addition, the length of time, physical considerations for the patient, and the type of addiction. Examples may include counseling, self-help groups, medication, and inpatient or outpatient programmes.
The first step in any treatment programme is usually detox. This process involves removing the substance entirely from the body while managing and limiting potential withdrawal symptoms. This can be through medication, total withdrawal, or even electronic devices which can help to reduce the physical symptoms of withdrawal.
Treatment will vary depending on the nature of the addiction and the individual involved, but some possible options include:
- Medication – Medications are often used during detox to help manage and reduce the symptoms of withdrawal. It may also be used on a more long-term basis to help eliminate cravings and reduce the likelihood of a relapse. It is usually used alongside other recovery methods such as psychotherapy.
- Self-help groups – These can be a valuable method of support, helping the addict to feel less isolated and boost their motivation to stay clean and sober. They can also be valuable teaching tools, providing accurate information and education, as well as encouraging peers to learn from one another. Examples of self-help groups are Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous.
- Rehabilitation centres – These are usually long-term treatment centres, and the critical focus is on resuming a healthy, functional life which is free from addiction. There are a variety of types, such as short-term residential (with a focus on detox), therapeutic communities (a long-term solution to help change the mindset and attitudes towards the addiction), and recovery housing (a supervised housing arrangement offering ongoing support and assistance). A combination of methods may be used, depending on the individual and their needs.
Wendy Whitehead worked as a teaching assistant at two special needs schools in London before embarking on a different career as a marketing consultant.
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