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Why do addicted people remain entrenched in their addiction?

The following are a few reasons an addicted person is unable to maintain a successful recovery program:

  • Lack of investment in treatment and recovery. Many people enter treatment with poor attitudes, motivation and support. It is important for the treatment team to be thoroughly invested in focusing on the client to gather as much pertinent history and circumstances as possible regarding the abuse and addiction. It is imperative that clients feel safe, nurtured and involved in therapy and how they can benefit from competent care.
  • Receiving treatment in the wrong program. Every program does not fit every person's needs. Many facilities claim to treat most disorders, but don't have the staff or curriculum to do so. Clients needs can be overlooked or misdiagnosed. Proper research for the program that best fits the client's needs is crucial. Feedback from professionals who know specifics about the client and the overall services and effectiveness of programs is vital in choosing the proper facility.
  • Lack of follow-up and supportive monitoring. Aftercare follow-up and monitoring by the facility to the client and family needs to be at least 1 year minimum. Newly recovering individuals can return to old negative behavior easily if not adhering to a structured, formulated maintenance program. The treatment facility has to be totally engaged in the aftercare process.

How long does treatment usually last?

Most treatment stays last only for 15 to 30 days according to most insurance companies. Effective treatment must last longer. It is very important to maximize a person’s stay as long as possible. Research has proven that longevity in treatment greatly enhances the potential for long lasting recovery. Competent programs have highly trained staff who work diligently to get the client the maximum time for therapy, ie: detox if necessary, residential, partial hospitalization treatment, intensive outpatient treatment, outpatient treatment and aftercare. Every individual should receive a minimum of 1 year of therapy incorporating all phases of the continuum to enhance the recovery potential.

What helps people enter treatment and remain in treatment?

Safety, Structure and Support! These are the main reasons for remaining in treatment. Many programs offer every amenity imaginable to entice a person to enter their program, but none of that matters if clients don't feel safe, receive structure and support in all phases of the program. Changing your life for the better is difficult work. Receiving these components allows each individual the opportunity to focus on their issues.

How effective is treatment?

Treatment is very effective if the client is in a safe, competent program and is willing and able to engage in the process.

How can family and friends make a difference in the life of an addicted person?

Family and loved ones must be part of the treatment process, including therapy for themselves. Treatment is about changing the lives and lifestyle of the entire family unit. Everyone must look at themselves and how they fit in the addiction cycle and be willing to change their behavior and be part of the recovery process.

Can a person become addicted to prescribed medication?

Absolutely! Any prescription painkiller that is used in excess can lead to tolerance and addiction. An injury, illness or operation may require a prescription for pain. People will often practice "doctor shopping" when they become addicted and can't get enough medication to fuel their habit. Today, more people die from overdoses of prescription drugs than from illegal drugs like heroin or cocaine.

Is there a difference between physical dependence and addiction?

There is certainly a difference between physical dependence and addiction. Tolerance takes place when the body and brain become less sensitive to drugs and/or alcohol and require more drugs to achieve the same effect.

When the body can no longer make enough natural chemicals to satisfy the less sensitive brain receptors, the body becomes dependent on the external source. This is physical dependence. Physical dependence to a substance provides symptoms and signs of withdrawal. It is possible to be physically dependent on a drug without being addicted. Physical dependence is an actual state of adaptation to a substance.

Addiction is a behavioral syndrome highlighted by the repeated, compulsive seeking or use of a substance despite adverse social, psychological, and/or physical consequences, along with the physical need for an increased amount of a substance to achieve the same desired effect. Addiction is often (but not always, as with addiction to gambling) accompanied by tolerance, physical dependence and withdrawal. Addiction requires treatment, while physical dependence does not.

Can exercise and mind, body and soul therapies play a role in the treatment process?

These experiential therapies help open up communication, lower defenses, develop awareness, identify issues and promote healthy ways of resolving those issues and leading productive lifestyles.

Is the use of medication like methadone and buprenorphine simply replacing one addiction for another?

Methadone is a synthetic opioid. Methadone reduces withdrawal symptoms in people addicted to heroin and other narcotic drugs without causing the "high" associated with drug addiction. Methadone is used as a pain reliever and as a part of drug addiction detoxification and maintenance programs. Methadone has many side effects including anxiety, nausea, sleep problems, loss of appetite, impotence and other uncomfortable physical responses.

Buprenorphine contains chemicals that link with opioid receptors in the brain to reduce pain and produce feelings of well being. When taken in prescribed doses, buprenorphine replicates the actions of opioid drugs - only to a much lower degree. It can be an effective component of an addiction treatment program when combined with behavioral modification therapies and counseling. Buprenorphine helps control cravings, helps you stay physically comfortable, minimizes risks of relapse, and reduces dependence. When abused, both drugs can become addictive and life threatening.

What is dual-diagnosis treatment?

Dual-diagnosis treatment blends the most successful aspects of mental health care and substance abuse treatment. Both areas are treated as part of a continuum. Effective treatment involves intensive therapy for mental illness and addiction, monitored by a highly trained and competent treatment team.