The purpose of physically treating a person’s addiction is to reduce the impact of addiction on the individual, on the family and on society. Obviously if consumption is controlled, the impact of addiction will be at best, reduced, or at least not worsened. However, the reality is that addicts are not able to manage or control their consumption.
Once challenged an addict will normally try to control consumption without actually considering total abstinence. It is only when an addict’s health is jeopardized that any form of abstinence will be considered and this period is often very traumatic and can sometimes be dangerous. Often medical help is needed to detoxify and a relapse is often common.
Being successful at giving up a substance is often only the start of the process as the best chance of continuing the abstinence is to seek treatment such as counseling and behavioral therapies. Substitute medication is often the chosen option for the addict. Under this regime the addict will be prescribed a medication that gives some of the effect of the addictive substance but there is less risk to health and the medication can be managed and reduced accordingly.
The drug heroin is a good example as synthetic opiates such as methadone are prescribed to addicts instead of the drug and these are administered orally. The effect of this being that a lot of the physical harm caused by the process of injecting is avoided. Prescribing methadone also helps in preventing the addict from having to resort to crime or prostitution to fund their habit. One of the drawbacks is that methadone itself is very addictive and in the hands of the addict it becomes a saleable commodity in itself on the black market.
Even so the prescribing of methadone does work in terms of reducing infection from the use of needles, it also reduces deaths amongst addicts and helps to reduce criminality.
Another example of substitute medication is the nicotine patch or gum where a smoker is given a controlled fix of nicotine without the damaging cigarette smoke. The nicotine levels can be reduced over a controlled period to wean the addict of the substance.
Medically supervised withdrawal (detoxification) is often the only effective treatment for heavy users. The process of detoxification has to be managed correctly as dangerous physiological withdrawal syndromes can be manifested when addicts stop taking their drugs. Support is most important where the addict has been taking opiates or consuming alcohol.
There are a number of private clinics that offer detoxification and drug rehabilitation programs, where the individual stays at the treatment centre whilst the treatment is being undertaken.
There are many other organizations that can also be contacted for help and advice.