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What Are the Addiction Treatment Options?

Treating an addiction can be a long and challenging process; many people who suffer from an addiction get both a physical and psychological or emotional reward from their addictive behavior. Addictions can be to a substance, such as alcohol, or to an activity, such as gambling (also called process addictions).

Addictions require professional treatment for several reasons. First, the addict needs help to stop the addictive behavior because they are unable to stop it on their own, despite the detrimental effects it is having on their health, finances, relationships, social and professional life, and family.

Second, an addict needs increasingly more, or more intense, experiences with the source of their addiction to get the same reward, and this escalation can be directly or indirectly dangerous — a drug overdose may be more immediately hazardous than the sedentary lifestyle of playing video games 18 hours a day, but they both put a person’s health at serious risk.

Did You Know?

Process addictions are still a controversial topic in the medical and scientific community. While many experts argue that some people have the same problems with smartphones, for example, that others do with drugs, there is disagreement as to whether these compulsive behaviors satisfy the clinical criteria of addiction, and whether they are better studied and treated as conditions in their own right, or as symptoms of other underlying mental problems, such as anxiety, depression or ADHD.

Third, in the case of drug or alcohol addictions, the act of stopping the use of a substance that the body has become dependent upon can itself be life threatening. Severe withdrawal symptoms from alcohol, for example, can include convulsions, seizures and hallucinations.

Fourth, to maintain their success long-term and minimize the chance of relapse, a recovering addict should continue to receive therapy beyond the initial breaking free from the addictive behavior.

Fortunately, if you have acknowledged that you are living with an addiction and are ready to start the journey toward recovery, there are a variety of treatment strategies available to help you.

Outpatient Addiction Treatment Centers

Many centers offer outpatient treatment programs for addiction. Process addictions and substance addictions with mild withdrawal symptoms can usually be treated on an outpatient basis. Your detoxification from the source of your addiction will still be medically supervised since you will go to daily appointments at the hospital, clinic or outpatient addiction center during this time, and you will be expected to attend regular doctor’s appointments and therapist’s sessions for at least several months afterward, but you can continue to live at home throughout your treatment and, in many cases, keep mostly to your normal work and life schedule.

Inpatient Rehab Centers

If you are likely to experience severe withdrawal symptoms during detox, or if you are at high risk for relapse, or if you suffer from another mental or physical condition that could significantly threaten your well-being, then the doctor overseeing your addiction recovery will strongly recommend that you enter an inpatient rehab program. During your stay at an inpatient treatment facility, which can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months, your detoxification and subsequent treatment will be closely supervised by a team of medical professionals. One major benefit of inpatient rehabilitation is that you are removed from temptation during the earliest part of your recovery; depending on the program, your interaction with the outside world, even with friends and family, may be very limited at first.

Day treatment is like part-time inpatient care; you spend up to eight hours a day in the day-treatment center but then return home.

Key Elements for the Treatment of Addiction

Whether inpatient or outpatient, your overall treatment program following detox will include some or all of these methods:

  • Individual Psychotherapy. Your therapist will play an important role in your continuing recovery, not only by giving you an outlet to express your fears and frustrations, but by identifying stressors and negative patterns of thinking that could make you vulnerable to relapse, and by helping you build coping strategies and more positive thinking.
  • Family and/or Group Therapy. In addiction to one-on-one therapy, your therapist may recommend sessions with your family to repair relationships or help build your home support network, or with other recovering addicts to share experiences and build skills with others in a similar stage of treatment.
  • Medication. In some cases, medication can be a useful part of addiction therapy; for example, to help with dependency symptoms or to treat another underlying mental illness.
  • Support Groups. A local support group provides an environment in which fellow recovering addicts can offer each other strength and encouragement.
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