It is important to note that drug addiction is a treatable disorder. However because there are so many different conditions in drug addiction, the specific treatment must be tailored to the individual's needs.  Many drug addicted people have other problems that complicate the treatment such as mental health, occupational, health, or social problems.  Treatments often include behavioral therapy, mediations, or even a combination of both.  If people are treated for their addiction, they can learn to control their condition and live a normal productive life.  The more treatment the person receives, the better off they are.
    Many addicted individuals believe that they can quit using drugs by themselves and try to stop without treatment; however, most of these attempts fail to result in long-term abstinence.  According to the the NIDA "Research has shown that long-term drug use results in significant changes in brain function that persist long after the individual stops using drugs.  These drug-induced changes in brain function may have many behavioral consequences, including the compulsion to use drugs despite adverse consequences, the defining characteristic of addiction."  Thus biology explains why achieving abstinence without treatment is so difficult.
    As was stated under the psychology portion of our webpage, pyschological stresses can combine with biological factors and prevent the attainment of sustained abstinence and make relapse more likely, without treatment.
Components Necessary for a Successful Treatment

Steps to Recovery

Step 1: Recognition

In order for treatment to begin, the abuser must recognize the problem.  Many times, abusers are in denial about their drug dependence which prevents them from seeking help.  Generally, people that are dependent on drugs do not seek the treatment voluntarily, rather, they seek it due to the pressures from loved ones.
Step 2: Detoxification
Treatment begins with detoxification, which is the gradual withdrawal of an abused substance under a controlled environment.  In some cases a drug that is similar to the abused drug (e.g. methadone for heroin) is substituted during withdrawal to lessen the miserable symptoms and health risks associated with the withdrawal process.  Depending on the drug that the person is addicted to, the withdrawal process can be handled through either an inpatient or an outpatient basis.
Step 3: Rehabilitation
The next step in treatment is rehabilitation.  This step is necessary to prevent the recurrence of drug abuse.  Rehabilitation involved behavioral therapies such as counseling, psychotherapy, support groups, or family therapy. Behavior therapy helps people to cope with their drug cravings and it teaches them ways to avoid drugs, prevent relapse, and what to do if a relapse occurs.  It has been seen that combining a behavior therapy program with treatment medications, such as methadone, helps to suppress the withdrawal syndrome, the drug craving, and in blocking the effects of other drugs (caffeine).  Studies have shown that using methadone at adequate dosage levels in treating heroin addiction along with behavioral therapies reduces death rates and many health problems. There are many support groups to help with the rehabilitation process, such as: Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Ala-teen, and Alanon.
Step 4: Abstinence
Following rehabilitation, the abuser must have a life long abstinence from drug abuse.  Relapses from this drug abstinence may occur and lead to recurrent dependence.

Types of Treatment Methods

Program Length Outpatient vs Inpatient Medication vs. Therapeutic
    For Further information about medications visit NIDA's Web Page on Treatment Medications
For further information about Behavioral Therapies please visit NIDA's web page on Behavioral Change Through Treatment
Is treatment worth it?
For further information about treatment please visit:

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