The term ‘addiction’ is often viewed in a negative light by many people; this is largely down to the fact that media outlets portray the illness in this way. There is a huge amount of stigma attached to addiction and those affected by it are often judged or discriminated against. It is hard for many to see addiction for what it actually is – an illness of the brain. Despite it being an illness though, there are many who see it as something completely different. Some believe it is a consequence of bad behaviour or poor decision making and feel that those affected have no one to blame but themselves. This is not the case, and the addict is no more to blame for his or her situation than the cancer patient is to blame for having this deadly illness.
With so much negative attention surrounding the illness of addiction, it is hardly surprising that many of those affected will be hesitant about speaking out. These affected individuals may fear that they will be viewed differently by their peers or that it will have a negative impact on their prospects. However, what they often fail to realise is that by doing nothing, their situation will only get worse. Addiction does not disappear by itself and, in fact, it continues to progress to the point where the affected person will find it almost impossible to hide any longer. The only way for most people to recover from addiction is with a programme of detox and rehabilitation. But what is addiction rehab and who actually needs it?
Who Is Affected by Addiction?
Addiction is not something that affects a particular type of person, despite what many people might think. In truth, anyone can be affected by addiction if they use mood-altering substances. Not everyone who does use substances such as alcohol or drugs is going to be affected, but they are all prone to addiction if their substance abuse is allowed to spiral out of control.
Many assume that it is only those who use illegal drugs who are affected by addiction, but this is not the case. Alcohol is also a highly addictive substance and is probably the most abused substance here in the UK. More than nine million people drink more than the Government’s recommended weekly allowance for safe consumption on a regular basis. The majority of these are oblivious to the fact that their drinking habits are dangerous and putting their life at risk. Many have absolutely no idea that they could be risking alcohol addiction if they continue to abuse alcohol in this manner.
What may surprise many people too is the fact that prescription drugs can also be addictive. It is hard to comprehend the fact that a medication prescribed by a doctor could be dangerous or addictive, but this is the truth. Prescription medication can cause crippling addictions in those who abuse it, and even in those who take the medication exactly as prescribed but over a prolonged period. The reason for this is that this type of medication should only be taken temporarily unless the benefits outweigh the risks. This is a matter for a GP to determine. What is clear, however, is that any abuse of prescription medication is risky and could lead to addiction.
So, when tackling the question of ‘who is affected by addiction’, the answer is ‘anybody can be’. This is an illness that does not discriminate. It does not matter what age a person is, what their religion, race or colour is, or where they come from. It does not even matter how much money the person has; if he or she allows their use of an addictive substance to get out of hand, they could be leaving themselves vulnerable to addiction.
Why Does Addiction Need to be Treated?
It is easy to say that addicts should be left to get on with their addictive behaviour because they are harming only themselves, but this is never the case. Addiction has far-reaching consequences – and not just for the individual.
It is true that the effects on the addict are devastating and can include poor health, financial trouble, relationship problems, and even premature death, but others are also negatively affected. In the first instance, it will be the friends and family of the addict who suffer. Their relationship with the addict will be severely impacted as they struggle to maintain order in their home.
Addicts often become manipulative and selfish and will put the substance they are addicted to above all else. That includes parents, spouses, children, and siblings. They cannot see the harm their actions are causing because addiction clouds their minds. Continued abuse of alcohol or drugs can cause changes to the structure of the brain and the affected person’s ability to think clearly will be negatively affected. He or she is incapable of making sound decisions.
What must also be mentioned here is the fact that addiction can also impact farther afield. The work performance of the addict will inevitably suffer because he or she is either under the influence of a chemical substance or is recovering from it. Colleagues may be negatively affected as they try to cover for their addicted workmate. They will be forced to pick up the slack and do extra work if the addict is incapable or has not shown up to work. This has a knock-on effect on the economy too.
Addiction places a massive burden on various public services such as the NHS and the police. With the majority of violent crimes directly linked to substance abuse, the cost of treating victims as well as the cost of policing and prosecuting those who commit them runs into billions every single year. These are just a number of reasons it is so important that those affected by addiction get the help they need to recover.
How Is Addiction Treated?
For most people, professional help will be required if they are to overcome their addictions to alcohol or drugs. It is possible for some to quit alone, but those who do, often find that their recovery is quite shaky. They may get to a point further down the line where they return to substance abuse because they have never addressed the underlying issues that caused the addiction in the first place.
The first step in the recovery process is usually a detox. This is a necessary part of recovery as it addresses the physical bond between the user and the substance. To overcome addiction, the individual must first get clean. This happens when he or she stops taking the substance to which he or she was addicted.
Detoxification is the name given to the process of eliminating the remaining toxins and chemicals from the body. It is a naturally occurring process but can be quite unpleasant as it is common for the addict to experience a variety of withdrawal symptoms as the body begins to heal itself after years of abuse.
During a detox, most people will only experience a few symptoms that are mild to moderate in intensity. Many describe a detox as being similar to having the flu. They feel quite unwell or mildly uncomfortable for a few days before the symptoms subside. Nevertheless, for a minority of people, severe symptoms develop and these symptoms can be life-threatening if not treated as an emergency immediately.
It is for this reason that most should consider a detox in a supervised facility. This is generally accepted as the best place to detox from drugs or alcohol because it is impossible to tell who will experience the most severe symptoms before the detox begins. In a supervised facility, patients are monitored at all times and in most cases, the severest symptoms can be prevented. Medication can also be prescribed to patients to ease any discomfort they are experiencing.
What Is Rehab for Addiction Like?
After detox, rehabilitation can begin and patients generally have a choice between inpatient and outpatient programmes. Treatment programmes are designed to help the individual unlearn their addictive behaviours. In the same way that chemical substances can change the structure of the brain and the way it functions, rehabilitation is designed to have the opposite effect. With a variety of techniques and treatments, patients are helped to identify the root cause of their illness and learn ways to avoid a return to this behaviour in the future.
If you are considering tackling an addiction to drugs or alcohol, you can choose between an inpatient or outpatient programme. Below is a brief outline of what to expect from each.
Outpatient programmes are generally provided by the NHS and charities but also by some private clinics and local counsellors. This type of programme is a less intensive and time-consuming way to tackle addiction. Patients attend regular counselling or therapy sessions but must also deal with their everyday life at the same time.
These types of programme are usually recommended for those who have realised early on in their addiction that they have a problem. The programmes are also suitable for those who have plenty of support at home and who are dedicated and have a real desire to succeed.
Inpatient programmes are the most concentrated and intensive way to tackle addiction. The addict is removed from his or her everyday life and is placed in a distraction-free environment where every day is dedicated to the issue of overcoming addiction.
Inpatient programmes are, for the most part, provided by private clinics; as such, the surroundings are very comfortable and are decorated to a high standard. Patients can usually expect to have a private room (or a semi-private room where they will share with another patient). There are various shared spaces throughout the clinic, such as the dining room and relaxation rooms where patients are encouraged to interact with each other during their free time.
Whether you are recovering in an inpatient or outpatient clinic, you can expect staff to use a variety of treatments to help you beat your illness. These treatments usually include:
- individual counselling
- group therapy
- cognitive behavioural therapy
- dialectic behavioural therapy
- contingency management
- motivational interviewing
- 12-step work
- family therapy
- life skills workshops
- relapse prevention seminars.
Each patient can expect to be provided with a tailored plan of care that will include elements of the above treatments. Depending on the treatment provider, a number of holistic therapies such as yoga, massage, meditation, art therapy, and acupuncture may also be used. Holistic treatments are designed to help improve wellbeing and minimise stress levels. They form part of a whole-centred approach to addiction recovery and aim to heal the mind, body, and spirit.
If you would like more information on addiction treatment with particular emphasis on detoxification and addiction rehabilitation, please contact us today. Our team of advisors can answer any queries you may have and can provide you with detailed information about how to overcome your illness once and for all.