To understand the issue of why drug treatment is necessary, it is important to first think about what drug addiction is and the harm it can cause to those affected. There is a lot of misunderstanding and misconception that surrounds this illness, with the biggest being the fact that most people do not even see it as an illness. Negative portrayal of addiction has led many to view addiction as something bad or something to be ashamed of. It is often seen as a consequence of bad behaviour rather than an illness that those affected have no control over. The idea that addiction is a lifestyle choice is incorrect and, frankly, harmful to those affected.
Stereotyping of addiction and of those affected happens in all parts of the world, but it can be extremely harmful for those with the illness. It often prevents these individuals from getting the help needed to get better. Some drug addicts are guilty of stereotyping addiction too and are then unable to see themselves as addicts. In their mind, addiction is something completely different to how they see themselves. They are then convinced that they do not have a problem and thus fail to seek help.
The Damage that Drug Addiction Can Cause
There are many reasons drug treatment is necessary. For starters, it is a progressive illness and will rarely go away without treatment. The damage that is often caused to the neural pathways in the brain means that a comprehensive programme of rehabilitation will be required to help the individual create new positive behaviours (ergo, new neural pathways or synapses).
The damage that addiction can cause extends far beyond the user. The type of substance that is being abused will determine the type of effects that are caused, but in general, poor health occurs as a result of regular drug abuse. There are some drugs that can have a deep and lasting effect on the mind and body of the individual. Some of these changes can even last for a long time after the person has stopped taking drugs.
Damage to both mental and physical health can occur among those who abuse drugs. The brain is one area that tends to be changed the most. In fact, some areas of the brain will be altered permanently by drug abuse. These changes to the structure of the brain has an impact on the behaviour of the individual. Most will find that as their illness progresses, they are less and less capable of making good decisions.
Some drug addicts will become violent or aggressive while under the influence of the substance they are addicted to. Others will find themselves the victims of crimes.
How Drug Addiction Affects Families
The damage that drug addiction can cause is never restricted to the individual. People are often heard saying that addicts harm only themselves and that they should be left to get on with their addictive behaviour if they are unwilling to quit drugs.
This type of statement shows an obvious lack of understanding of the illness. For a start, those affected by addiction have very little, if any, control over their behaviour. Even when wanting to quit, they usually find they are unable to. Secondly, addiction affects many more people than just the person abusing the drugs. The reality is that this is an illness that can destroy the lives of everyone around the addict.
Children are often referred to as forgotten victims of addiction, and this is typically because many are deemed too young to understand what is going on. Most family members will forget about the impact that the addiction is having on the kids because they believe these children are unaware of the issues facing the addicted adult.
Nevertheless, research has shown that kids can be deeply impacted by a family member’s addiction, regardless of their age. Young children often feel confused and upset, and some will blame themselves. Older children tend to withdraw into themselves, which can have an impact on how they form relationships with their peers. Some will not want to form strong bonds with others for fear that these others will discover the parent is an addict. This can last into adulthood, and studies have found that children of addicts often suffer emotional damage in later life. Some even go on to struggle with their own addiction issues.
The Wider Impact of Addiction
The devastation caused to the families of drug addicts is clear to see, but the effects of addiction go much further than this. Addiction negatively affects entire communities, as well. Over half of all violent crimes are said to be committed by those under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
As you might imagine, this leads to hospital admissions and arrests. The emergency services in the UK are under immense pressure dealing with the effects of substance abuse. As well as treating the victims of substance-related crimes, the NHS must also treat those admitted to hospital for illnesses and injuries caused by their substance abuse. The cost to the economy for treating addiction-related illnesses and injuries is in the billions of pounds every single year.
It is clear that addiction is an illness that requires treatment. Without treatment, the effects would be far greater. The good news though is that with a comprehensive programme of detox and rehabilitation, much of the damage that is caused by addiction can be reversed.
Those affected by addiction tend to suffer poor health, but with a programme of rehabilitation, health issues often resolve themselves. Recovering addicts usually find that they have more energy and that many of their ailments clear up as their body begins the healing process.
Another area that tends to get better with a fully comprehensive recovery programme is relationships. Most providers of rehabilitation programmes work with the entire family. While the main focus is on helping the person with the addiction to overcome his or her issues, other members of the family will be invited to take part in therapy sessions so that bridges can be built and the addict can attempt to make amends for any harm caused.
What is Drug Addiction Treatment Like?
The reasons drug treatment is so important can never be understated, but even knowing why it is so important may not be enough to convince some addicts to get started on a programme of recovery. Here at Oasis Recovery, we often find that this is largely to do with the fact that many addicts have a fear of recovery – a fear that is often unfounded.
The affected individuals may have heard that rehabilitation is going to be excruciating and, as such, would rather avoid it completely. Some believe it would be easier to pretend that nothing is wrong than go through a process that will be painful and distressing.
This fear of rehab is completely understandable, but in reality, there is nothing to be afraid of. Rehab should be seen as an opportunity to change your life and is rarely as distressing or painful as the individual expects. There is no doubting that detox can be unpleasant and uncomfortable at times, but in terms of rehab, the chance to really examine your life can be a truly rewarding experience.
Treatment for drug addiction begins with detox. This is the process that aims to address the physical side of the illness. It is necessary for the user to break free from the drugs that have kept him or her in a deadly grip for so long.
Detox begins a few hours after the person stops taking drugs; for most, the earliest withdrawal symptoms will be mild. Over the next few days, these symptoms may intensify to a moderate or severe level. They will then reach a peak and begin to subside. Severe symptoms can even be life-threatening if not treated correctly, and as such, it is wise for addicts to detox in a supervised facility where they will be monitored by professionals capable of reacting appropriately should an emergency arise.
Once the process of detox has been completed, which usually takes between seven and ten days, the job of tackling the emotional side of the illness begins. This takes place in a rehabilitation clinic and the programme may be either inpatient or outpatient based.
The difference between the two programmes is in how they are run and not in the type of treatments provided. Inpatient programmes are much more intensive as the patient moves into the clinic and stays there for a period of up to eight weeks. The treatment approach is structured and concentrated as well as time-consuming. Patients spend almost all day in treatment for addiction and live with other recovering addicts.
With an outpatient programme, there is no need for patients to stay overnight. The programme is run on a day care basis and the length of the programme will depend on how many hours of treatment the person has each week.
Accessing Help for Addiction
If you would like help for a drug addiction or if you are enquiring on behalf of a loved one, please call us here at Oasis Recovery. We have been helping people to overcome their addictions to drugs and alcohol for many years, and our programmes are an excellent choice for those who want to recover with the help of a team of fully qualified and dedicated professionals.
Please call us today for more information on how we can help you beat your addiction and get your life back on the right track once more.