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Overcoming Drug Addiction

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, marijuana is the most commonly abused drug in the U.S. But many people also suffer from serious problems with other government-regulated drugs, otherwise known as controlled substances; although it did not detail how many people suffer specifically from, for example, heroin, meth or crack cocaine addictions (i.e., crack addictions), the same survey reported that over 7 million Americans have a dependence or abuse problem with illicit drugs.

If you are one of those over seven million Americans, and you are battling a drug addiction, ask your doctor to refer you to a rehabilitation facility. Barring that, a search of the Internet or your local phone book will undoubtedly reveal addiction centers and other opportunities for help in your area.

Going through Detox

Once you enter a drug rehabilitation program, ridding your body of the addictive drug is the first major step toward recovery. This process, and the weeks or months of treatment after it, can be completed on either an inpatient or outpatient basis, depending on the type and severity of the addiction and the withdrawal symptoms.

Did You Know?

The term narcotic does not include all drugs, and does not refer only to illegal drugs. Traditionally, narcotics are opium-derived substances, or opioids; examples include heroin or prescription medications like morphine and oxycodone. According to the FDA’s Controlled Substances Act (CSA), the U.S. government also considers cocaine and other coca-derived substances to be narcotics.

 There is evidence to suggest that post-detox inpatient care, or even part-time inpatient care, can have a significant impact on some addicts’ recovery. One study from Johns Hopkins showed that those with opioid addictions (e.g., morphine, codeine, Oxycontin, or heroin addictions) who used a day treatment center and drug-free residential housing after completing detox were 10 times more likely to stay clean in subsequent months than those who didn’t.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Sciences’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), addictions to some controlled substances often do not necessarily require inpatient treatment. SAMHSA lists cocaine addictions and meth addictions as examples of problems that may be treated on an outpatient basis.

However, outpatient detox and treatment still include close medical supervision: as an outpatient, you will still attend appointments every day during detox, and every day or very regularly for a long time afterward; with an intense outpatient program, the weekly time commitment in the beginning can be the same as that for a part- or even full-time job.

Attending Addiction Counseling

As difficult and uncomfortable as it can be, detoxifying your body of the addictive substance is only the beginning of your addiction recovery journey. Regular sessions with a therapist specializing in addiction and recovery treatment are another very important aspect of an overall plan to stay clean. Your therapist can help you to actively replace the destructive thought patterns that lead to your equally destructive addictive behavior with more positive, rational ways of thinking, and also to recognize external stressors that push you toward drug use.

For external stressors that are very likely to lead to relapse, and may even have led to relapse in the past, the therapist can also help you identify life and lifestyle changes you should make in order to create an environment more conducive to long-term recovery, such as:

  • Removing yourself from relationships and social situations with those who use drugs
  • Changing your residence if you live with someone who uses drugs, or if your living situation is otherwise unstable or volatile
  • Reducing hours at work or changing jobs if your work stress level is a major trigger of your addictive behavior, or if your occupation provides you with access to the addictive substance

Building a Support Network

In addition to formal support through doctor’s, therapist’s and other medical appointments, being surrounded by personal support on a regular basis has been shown to have a considerable impact on recovering drug addicts’ long-term success with rehabilitation.

If you are unable to have a network of friends and family around you, then you can instead receive strength and positive encouragement from a support group comprised of fellow recovering addicts, such as your local chapter of Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Ideally, you will be able to take advantage of both forms of support.


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