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"I was taking so many pills that I wasn't even taking them to get high anymore. I was taking them to feel normal."
This is how Eminem describes his addiction to opioid prescriptions. It is a perfect definition of what it means to be addicted. If this sounds familiar to you, it's time to talk about drug rehab.
Eminem struggled with drug abuse and addiction for years, but he is not the exception. It is estimated that over 2 million people are addicted to opioids in the United States, and the number climbs drastically every year. Between 2010 and 2016, the number of opioid addictions rose almost 500%.
The sad truth is, out of the 20 million Americans who are reported to have substance use disorder, only 12% or less seek help or go to drug rehab.
Although some people scoff at the idea of addiction as a disease, substance use disorder (also known as drug addiction or dependence syndrome) is defined by the American Medical Association (AMA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) as a "chronic brain disease". Both of these major world institutions define addiction as a disease without a known cure.
If you suffer from drug addiction, you can be assured that the condition is not altogether your fault, but that does not mean you are powerless to thwart it. Addiction can be treated if you choose to seek out recovery and take the necessary steps to overcome it.
Drug Rehabilitation is the analysis, diagnosis, and treatment of substance use disorder through means of medical intervention, therapy, counseling, and education. Not to be confused with detox, rehab centers seek to treat the psychological causes and conditions of drug addiction in order to help patients develop the tools necessary to achieve lifelong recovery.
There are different types of drug treatment programs, such as:
Although the schedule and style of treatment differs between facilities, the programs above will most likely include a combination of the following:
There's a common misconception that drug rehab doesn't work because of the prevalence of relapse and a phenomenon known as "revolving door syndrome". Revolving door syndrome occurs when a patient goes through the rehab process, starts using again, relapses into addictive behaviors, and then goes back to rehab.
Relapse does happen. In fact, the average relapse rate for a drug user who has achieved sobriety is 40-60%. This is because of the chronic nature of substance use disorder. Once an addict has gone through rehab and achieved sobriety, that does not mean they are "fixed". Once addiction has taken hold of the brain, it could take a lifetime of commitment to maintain sobriety. An addict who relapses is like a diabetic who forgets to take insulin and becomes hypoglycemic.
The disease requires daily upkeep in order for an individual to remain in recovery; one lapse in judgement or vigilance can lead to a relapse, which is why it happens so often. However, professional drug treatment programs can teach you to analyze the causes of your addiction, identify triggers, and cope with cravings. This type of well-rounded treatment is intended to prepare you for a lifetime in recovery, and it does work.
A survey by the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services found that long-term recovery rates were 46% for those who completed a drug rehab program, as opposed to 17% long-term recovery for those that completed detox alone.
It is not uncommon for mainstream society to ridicule substance use disorder, blaming addiction on weakness or character flaws on the part of the addict. If you suffer from drug addiction, it is not helpful to succumb to similar feelings of self-blame or dejection. Similarly, if you are reading this article in order to help a close friend or family member with a substance abuse problem, it is important to remember the following:
That is not to say that it is a hopeless disease with no options for recovery. There are numerous methods to treat substance use disorder, but it will take an enormous commitment and willingness on the part of the addict to overcome the addiction and learn how to live a functional, sober lifestyle once again.
Recovery takes a lifetime to achieve, but the journey is a fruitful one. Once you make the decision to fight addiction, you will need the right tools and support system. In order to overcome substance use disorder, you must understand the causes of addiction and how it works, how it affects your mind and body, and how it can be treated. Drug rehab is intended to give you the understanding and tools required to battle the daily challenges of addiction and achieve a lifetime of sobriety,
If you are trying to help a loved one to achieve sobriety, intervention may be necessary in order to help them see the magnitude of their addiction and how substance abuse is affecting their life. They cannot begin recovery until they make the decision to accept the help they need to make a substantial and permanent change for the better.
This article will address the causes and nature of addiction, as well as the different drug rehabilitation options available for treating drug addiction long term. The first stage of the process will be a week or more of drug detox to allow the body to shed its physical dependence on illicit substances.
Each substance may affect the nervous system differently, but the end result is the same - dependence. Dependence (another word for addiction) occurs when the brain has become so accustomed to the presence of drugs that it can no longer function normally without them. Here is a look at how each substance influences the brain:
Opioid addiction has become so commonplace in the United States that it is now being referred to as the opioid crisis. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, almost 3 million people reported a substance use disorder involving opioids in 2015.
Opioids include heroin as well as prescription pain medications like hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, and fentanyl, among others. While heroin dependence is still common, addiction rates to prescription opioids are rising rapidly. In fact, some prescription opioid addictions are formed by accident.
One example of this phenomenon is the pop singer Prince, who was prescribed pain relievers after an onstage knee injury. He reportedly became dependent on the pills and began seeking them out for more than pain relief. Prince died of a fentanyl overdose in 2016.
Whether it's known as heroin or hydrocodone, any opioid has a similar effect on the brain. Chemicals in the drug bind to opioid receptors in the brain, triggering the release of a neurotransmitter called dopamine. The flood of dopamine creates feelings of euphoria and intense pleasure. Since the brain is wired to repeat behaviors that cause pleasure, it will naturally seek out more pleasure, urging the user to take more opioids.
Stimulants also trigger the release of dopamine, as well as other neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and serotonin. The stimulating effects of norepinephrine and serotonin on the nervous system create a burst of energy and alertness. At very low levels, stimulants can increase concentration and productivity, but in order to achieve a pleasurable euphoria, users ingest much larger doses that lead to dependence.
Methamphetamines, ecstacy, and cocaine are classified as stimulants, as well as some prescription medications like Ritalin and Adderall. Those who abuse illicit stimulants often do so for more than the euphoric effects of dopamine. Some users claim that this class of drugs can be used to increase sexual stamina and prowess, to stay awake for long periods of time, or to enjoy long nights partying at raves or nightclubs. Prescription medications like Adderall, on the other hand, are commonly used and abused to improve alertness and productivity at school or work.
"Psychedelic" or hallucinogenic substances do not affect dopamine pathways as most other drugs do. Instead, this class of drug imitates the neurotransmitter serotonin, binding to serotonin receptors to change sensory perceptions, behavior, and personality. Hallucinogens include substances like ketamine, peyote, psilocybin, DMT, and LSD. They have an immediate and significant effect on neurons according to Cell Reports Journal, permanently changing the shape of neurons and communication networks in the brain.
Although LSD is not considered addictive, users can build up tolerance to the drug, requiring larger doses to achieve the desired effect. Other hallucinogens like ketamine and DMT can create dependency, however. All hallucinogens cause extreme changes in behavior and personality from the very first use and so have a higher chance of creating problems with work and relationships. These substances also pose a significant danger of overdose.
The substances named above are considered the major classes of illicit drugs, but they are not the only substances that cause dangerous addictions. Harmful dependencies can also be caused by:
Addiction can be caused by any substance that unnaturally triggers pleasure centers in the brain. The human brain is designed to seek out and repeat behaviors that cause the release of pleasurable neurotransmitters - behaviors like having sex or eating delicious food. The brain is not designed, however, to withstand a constant stream of euphoric "happy chemicals".
When exposed to substances that stimulate pleasure centers, the brain will naturally crave more of that substance, urging the user to take more. If the user does continue abusing drugs, the brain will be inundated with euphoric neurotransmitters, creating a harmful imbalance. In response, the brain will then seek to correct the balance and suppress the production of neurotransmitters as well as their receptors. The result is called tolerance - the user will no longer feel the effects of the drugs and will continue to increase each dose in order to achieve the same high.
Over time, the cycle continues and the brain has to completely rewire its signalling pathways to compensate for the inflow of drugs. At this point, dependency has set in and the brain no longer remembers how to function without the presence of illicit substances. After a physical dependency has formed, the brain will be forever altered and may always subconsciously crave the drugs that created its addiction.
After the brain has become dependent on substance abuse in order to maintain the status quo, it has reached a "new normal" in which drugs must be consumed continuously to retain normalcy. Now, when the user tries to stop using, the brain is thrown into a severe imbalance. All of the happy chemicals in the brain will suddenly dry up, and since the production of those chemicals has been so suppressed, all that's left behind are the neurotransmitters that cause anxiety, pain, and depression. This imbalance will cause a wide range of painful and severe side effects called withdrawal symptoms.
Because drug withdrawal symptoms are so distressing and unpleasant, the user will experience powerful cravings to consume more drugs, if only to put an end to the misery of withdrawal.
The brain is not the only part of the body that is affected by substance abuse. Besides their activity within the brain, illicit substances also contain toxins that enter the bloodstream, affecting organs and bodily functions in a number of ways. Even from the first dose, the user can suffer short-term effects, such as:
Long-term use has even more dire effects, eventually weakening and damaging almost every major system of the body. These are some of possible results of long-term drug abuse:
Sadly, the average long-term drug addict loses 18 years of life or more due to their substance abuse, according to a study by Preventative Medicine Journal.
If you have substance use disorder, quitting could be the most difficult thing you will ever do. If it were easy to do, would drug addiction be a problem in today's society? Every feeling, emotion, and need that you experience is controlled by your brain; in fact, everything you do is controlled by your bain. If your brain is dependent on drugs and urges you to keep using, then quitting will require you to fight your own substance-altered instincts.
Once you make the decision to begin your recovery, you can work to correct some of the neurological damage that has been done and learn how to recognize and resist the unhealthy urges that your brain produces. It will not be easy, and it may take a lifetime, but a lifetime is worth the effort.
Drug detox is the process of managing drug withdrawal symptoms in a healthy way. It is considered by most to be the most difficult part of recovery. Drug withdrawal symptoms are caused by the severe imbalance created in the brain and body by substance abuse and dependence. When drugs are removed from a dependent body, the body is thrown into a painful turmoil as it attempts to cope with the sudden absence of happy chemicals and a severely altered neurological signalling system.
As the brain and body work to shed their physical dependence on illicit substances and regain a healthy, natural balance, a range of drug withdrawal symptoms will rack the body and mind. The key to overcoming the drug detox process without relapsing will be how you manage withdrawal symptoms.
Once you quit using, you will go through drug withdrawal. Whether you suffer through it at home or seek the help of a professional addiction treatment center, your body will have to detox in order to rid itself of toxins and the physical dependence to drugs. What really matters is how you choose to go through the drug detox process.
While the rigorous treatment and therapy schedule of a rehab program are not possible during the worst stages of drug withdrawal, there are a variety of therapeutic exercises and medications that can help to soothe the worst symptoms of withdrawal.
The euphoric effects of most drugs do not last long, but a substance remains in the bloodstream for much longer than its discernible effects. Many users think that once they no longer feel high, then the drugs have already left the bloodstream; this misconception is dangerous. If one continues to use every time they come down from a high, overdose is more likely with each use. This is because of how long a substance can actually remain in the bloodstream and metabolic system. Here is a rundown of the most popular drugs and how long they can be detected in the human body:
Drug withdrawal lasts even longer than the time required for substances to leave the system. That's because withdrawal is the process of not only letting toxins leave your body, but also allowing your brain and body to correct their physical dependence to drugs.
In general, detox lasts one week, but drug withdrawal symptoms and timelines vary according to which substance you are addicted to. Here are some timelines of common illicit substances:
Stage 1: Four Hours - Three Days
Stage 2: Four Days - Seven Days
Stage 3: Two Weeks - Four Weeks
Even after the worst of drug withdrawal symptoms have passed, stimulant withdrawal can continue with severe emotional symptoms for several weeks after stage two. These symptoms may include insomnia, anger, highly fluctuating mood swings, and depression.
Although meth is also a stimulant, its withdrawal symptoms differ from other stimulants because if its highly toxic chemical composition.
Stage 1: One Day - Three Days
Stage 2: Four Days - Seven Days
Stage One: 12 Hours - 2 Days
Stage 2: Two Days - Seven Days
Stage 1: One Day - Three Days
Stage 2: Four Days - Fourteen Days
During stage two, the same general withdrawal symptoms will continue, gradually lessening over a period of 10 - 14 days.
Drug detox marks the eradication of physical addiction from the body, but most drug addictions are caused by psychological factors as well. For example, if someone with a social or mood disorder uses illicit substances to feel more sociable and comfortable around other people, this is a psychological addiction. The same goes for people who "self-medicate" for anxiety or depression with drugs. The drug withdrawal timelines shown above describe the process for shedding the constraints of physical addiction, but psychological addictions require a great deal more time and effort to treat.
Technically it is possible, but detoxing from a physical addiction at home is not recommended. There are several factors that make this process both more difficult and more dangerous if attempted at home:
Even if you remove all substances from the house, acquiring more drugs is usually only a phone call away. Living at home has not prevented you from using before, so what would stop you from using during the most difficult stages of detox?
The painful symptoms of drug withdrawal are the most common cause of relapse. Those who go through the process in a safe, drug-free setting have much higher chances of success.
Anyone who has suffered from a long-term drug addiction is not likely to be in optimal health. Add to that the extreme physical symptoms of substance use withdrawal, and there could be serious medical dangers to undergoing home detox. For instance, the severe diarrhea and vomiting that takes place during opioid withdrawal could lead to dehydration, hospitalization, or even death.
Cocaine and methamphetamine withdrawal may also prove dangerous without medical supervision, since the symptoms of both can include intense suicidal thoughts. For cases like these, having medical personnel present could be the difference between life and death.
No matter where you go through drug detox, the experience will be dreadful. Drug treatment centers do offer various methods to soothe and minimize the most severe withdrawal symptoms, however. Medical doctors, psychiatrists, and expert counselors can prescribe medications to help reduce symptoms, as well as a range of therapeutic activities to help you get out of your head and stay healthy throughout the process.
If you do intend to try completing drug withdrawal at home, be sure to go in for a full medical examination from a doctor beforehand and obtain his or her approval that you are in a suitable medical condition to go through it without professional help. Surround yourself with trustworthy, sober individuals throughout the process to ensure that you stay hydrated, eat when able, and stay as active as possible. Your support system should also be prepared to call an ambulance in case of any emergency. Lastly, in case it wasn't obvious, remove all illicit substances and drug paraphernalia from the house before beginning detox.
DIY detox kits are a popular over-the-counter product in drugstores, but do they really prove useful during drug withdrawal? So far, drug detox kits have not shown any medical or therapeutic benefits for users who are going through detox. In fact, some evidence suggests that these products can be harmful.
This is likely because drug detox kits are not certified or approved by any regulatory agencies like the FDA, so there are no protocols in place to ensure they use safe, effective ingredients. What's more, even though some of the kits claim to help with withdrawal symptoms, they are really only intended to mask the presence of illicit substances in mandatory urine tests. If you are truly interested in getting clean, hiding your drug use with a detox kit is not going to help your recovery.
Undergoing drug detox at a professional addiction treatment center leads to much higher completion rates. Besides the fact that there is no way to obtain drugs in an inpatient facility, round-the-clock care, medical intervention, therapeutic programs, and encouragement from counselors can all make the experience more bearable. Below are some of the ways that a professional detox program can help you through the process:
After an examination by medical and psychiatric doctors, a range of prescriptions can be recommended to help with both the physical and emotional symptoms of drug withdrawal. Although there are not medicinal prescriptions for every kind of drug addiction, many options exist for the most common symptoms.
Medical intervention for opioid withdrawal usually consists of milder, safer forms of the drug to slowly wean the user off of the substance while reducing the severest of withdrawal symptoms. Some of these include:
For stimulant detox, there are several options depending on how withdrawal symptoms manifest. These may include mild stimulants to make the "come down" gentler, muscle relaxers to reduce anxiety and agitation, as well as antidepressants or antipsychotics if the patient is experiencing violent or suicidal thoughts. A few examples of these prescriptions are:
Because medical intervention for drug withdrawal will vary greatly according to the symptoms of each individual patient, medical supervision is required to manage dosage and monitor patient responses to the medications.
A full schedule of rehabilitation treatments may not be possible in the first days of drug detox, but there are therapeutic activities that can help you to better tolerate the arduous process, such as:
Professional drug rehabilitation offers much more than temporary sobriety. With the help of trained professionals, counselors, and medical personnel, a good drug rehab program will help you to analyze the causes of your addiction, diagnose any underlying psychological conditions that may attribute to your substance use, and learn the tools you will need to overcome the daily challenges of addiction recovery over the course of your everyday life. These tools can be achieved through a combination of counseling, holistic remedies, medical intervention, and therapeutic activities, but it is unlikely the average person with substance use disorder will learn how to achieve lifelong recovery without professional help. Below are a few reasons why.
Once the brain has formed a dependency to illicit substances, its neural pathways and communication systems will change. Some of these changes will heal with time, but some neural activity will be permanently changed. This is why substance use disorder is defined as chronic; it is never completely healed.
This does not mean that addiction cannot be treated and overcome, but that it is a lifelong condition that will require daily upkeep and commitment to maintain. Think of it as if it were any other chronic disease, such as diabetes or HIV; without proper vigilance, a chronic disease will worsen and eventually kill you.
Drug rehab can help you to understand how your brain and neurological "wiring" have changed, as well as the many ways you can treat and maintain substance use disorder.
Attempting recovery at home leads to much higher relapse rates. If you are suffering from drug addiction, it would be safe to assume that your current living situation does not lend itself well to recovery. An abrupt change of scenery in an inpatient addiction treatment program could be the thing you need.
Since drug rehab gives you no options to obtain your substance of choice, as well as provisions for medical and therapeutic intervention to relieve drug withdrawal symptoms, an inpatient facility will make relapse much less likely. In addition to helping with long-term recovery, preventing relapse could save your life.
Your tolerance to illicit substances begins to drop during the first days of detox. That means your body will be more susceptible to the drug with each passing day. If you do relapse and continue with the same dose as before, you could easily overdose using the same amount that you had been taking only a few days before. For this reason, overdose can be deadly, especially for opioid users.
Choosing to undergo detox in a residential care facility where no drugs are available could be the difference between life and death.
Although there is a lot of research on drug rehab success rates with varying results, the general consensus is the same - long-term recovery rates are higher for those individuals who completed a drug addiction recovery program than for those who didn't. Here are some studies to illustrate the point:
Some find recovery rates between 40-70% to be discouraging, but they shouldn't be. Sometimes, relapse is part of the long-term recovery process; after all, we are talking about a chronic disease. However, any kind of relapse would be enough to reduce the success rates in studies like those shown above.
On the contrary, relapse should not be considered an automatic failure. Relapse does happen, but if you can recover after a short relapse and continue with sobriety, then you should consider it an incredible success, not a failure. If relapses continue to occur time and time again, however; it is time to seek additional help.
Substance Use Disorder cannot be cured, but it can absolutely be treated. Drug rehabilitation centers have helped millions of people with drug addictions to achieve long-term recovery. In fact, many world-famous celebrities have completed drug treatment and enjoyed many years of sobriety, including:
Of course, these are only a few well-known names out of millions all over the world who are in recovery. Try visiting a local Narcotics Anonymous group to meet normal, everyday people who have gone on to live functional, successful lives after addiction. Many will be happy to tell you the stories of their own recovery journeys.
Although not all rehab facilities offer the following advanced treatments, these may be key to long-term recovery for certain individuals.
One of the newest technologies available in addiction treatment, neurofeedback therapy is still not available in all drug rehabilitation facilities. The procedure goes something like this:
You would be fitted with noninvasive electronic sensors that would be placed around the outside of your head. Next, you sit in front of a computer as a series of images and sounds are played on the monitor. The computer monitors your brain's responses to the material and, over time, it makes an analysis of your neurological condition and emotional state.
The next step is a series of sessions in which the computer rewards calm, logical processing, slowly working to reduce erratic, impulsive brain activity. The idea is to condition your neurological pathways towards healthy patterns and away from harmful, addictive patterns, helping the brain to retrain and prepare itself for a healthier, sober lifestyle.
Research shows that co-occurring substance abuse and mental illness disorders show much better results when treated in an integrated environment. For this reason, more inpatient drug rehab facilities are offering dual diagnosis treatment, in which the patient can be examined, diagnosed, and treated for addiction as well as any underlying psychological conditions that attribute to addiction at the same time.
Almost 60% of people with a history of substance abuse also exhibit a history of mental illness, so it makes sense that the two be treated together in an integrated approach. In a drug rehab center that offers this treatment, a full psychiatric and biosocial examination will be performed upon admittance to determine if any co-occurring disorders are present.
If a dual-diagnosis is made, the patient can be treated for and educated about their underlying psychological conditions as well as how they relate to addiction. Understanding the underlying causes of addiction and how to cope with mental illness are necessary tools for managing lifelong sobriety.
Earlier we discussed how medical intervention could be used to assist with the drug detox process, but it can also be continued effectively during the rehabilitation phase. For example, if a dual diagnosis is made, medications may be prescribed for any mental, social, or emotional disorders that are attributing to addiction.
Opioid Replacement Therapy (ORT) is also a popular solution to help opioid addicts slowly wean themselves off of opiods without such drastic withdrawal side effects. This treatment is controversial among drug treatment circles because the milder opioid-based medications used to treat opioid addiction may also be habit-forming. Although this is a possibility, patients will be weaned off the medications day-by-day as they are integrated into a wide variety of therapeutic activities as well as diet and exercise plans that help the body to replace its need for the drugs. By the time treatment over, they will be totally clean of all opioid substances.
Holistic drug treatment is an approach that focuses on whole-body wellness as well as addiction. Since the human body is an organism made of many interdependent parts, treating all its parts - mind, body, and spirit - is important to a well-rounded recovery. Here are some services that are offered at a holistic drug abuse treatment program:
While new advancements in drug rehab treatments are emerging all the time, there are many tried-and-true traditional methods that should be offered at any addiction center. Classic one-on-one counseling and group therapy are still great ways to improve confidence and emotional stability during the recovery process. These are some traditional rehab treatments that are very effective:
The standard residential care facility offers a basic plan of a few weeks of inpatient treatment plus several weeks or months of outpatient aftercare. Ideally a treatment plan should be highly individualized according to each patient's medical and emotional needs, so treatment time and assigned activities can vary greatly from person to person. However, depending on the individual plan that is formulated for you, a typical day in drug rehab may looks something like this:
Most drug rehabilitation programs are highly individualized according to the medical needs, psychiatric conditions, length of the program, and substance abuse history of the patient. For this reason, it is impossible to determine an exact cost for drug rehab before you come in for initial assessments.
It is also important to contact your insurance carrier before going to any addiction centers because many health insurance plans cover some drug rehab fees. If you do not have insurance, cash payments and payment plans can be discussed.
It is certain that substance abusers find many reasons not to go to rehab. Only 12% of all drug addicts ever receive professional treatment. Here are the most common barriers to drug treatment and some possible solutions:
While it may be true that there are no full-service drug rehab centers close to your home, many well-priced public transportation methods still exist, and most facilities will put you into contact with local support groups when you return home.
Paying out-of-pocket for an inpatient addiction treatment program can seem expensive, until you compare it to your out-of-pocket expenses for illicit drugs. If you take the time to crunch the numbers, you will see that the cost of drugs over several months is almost (if not more) expensive than any rehab program. Add to that the cost of work that has been or could be lost due to your addiction, and drug rehab might begin to look cheap in comparison.
Many health insurance plans provide partial coverage for drug treatment. Be sure to check with your provider.
Mainstream society may take spiteful pleasure out of every "celebrity in rehab" story, but there is great respect for those individuals who seek out treatment and succeed in attaining long-term recovery. Any social stigma associated with rehab is small compared to the stigma of drug abuse, especially if you refuse to seek help. Take pride in your recovery journey.
In a quality rehab facility, your aftercare program will be in development from your first days at the facility. Phasing into an independent, sober lifestyle is a vital building block in the process. Your aftercare options may include:
Even after you have completed all outpatient and aftercare programs, you will not be left without support. Once you have completed a full rehabilitation program, you will be more aware of the nature of your addictions, what your triggers are, and how to address cravings. The addiction center should also provide you with a list of local groups and contacts with whom you can continue regular meetings and/or therapy. These are some recovery groups you can look for:
Staying in touch with support groups and counselors could be the cornerstone of maintaining long-term recovery.
If you just read this article, you are probably suffering from a drug addiction, or know someone who is suffering from substance use disorder. You've already begun to see how drug abuse can crawl into every crevice of your existence and poison everything it touches. Don't let addiction rob you of another day, another relationship, or another opportunity.
When Eminem spoke about his newfound sobriety, he described it like this,
Rediscover the colors in your own life. Take control of your recovery journey today.
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