The first step for the addicted person is to acknowledge that there is a dependency problem (addiction problem). Only then can they get help. Treatment options for addiction depend on several factors, including what type of substance it is and how deeply it has affected the patient. Typically, treatment includes a combination of inpatient and outpatient programs, counseling (psychotherapy), self-help groups, pairing with individual sponsors, and medication.
Detox - The first phase of treatment is withdrawal from the problem substance/activity. There are both physical and psychological effects that occur when substance-taking stops, including such physical signs as nausea and vomiting, chills and sweats, muscle cramps and aches, sleeplessness, shifts in heart rate, even fever. Emotional effects include depression, anxiety, irritability, and mood swings. Withdrawal symptoms typically last three to five days. While withdrawal symptoms are rarely life-threatening, clients are usually sent to a detox facility before attending a rehabilitation program. In the detox facility medical supervision is provided and medications may be given to ameliorate the acute discomfort of withdrawal.
Treatment programs - these typically focus on getting sober and preventing relapses. Individual, group and/or family sessions often form part of the program. Depending on the level of addiction, patient behaviors, and type of substance this may be an outpatient or residential settings.
Residential programs are beneficial for people who are just starting to get sober because they are surrounded by trained staff 24 hours a day 7 days a week. In a residential program the entire day is planned out for the client, with group therapy, AA meetings, individual therapy, and activities such as gym time and group outings. In a residential program the client only has to focus on being sober, which for the first month is difficult enough. Although clients can leave a residential program at any time, most are 90 day programs.
Intensive outpatient programs (IOP’s) provide more freedom of movement than residential programs. Individuals can continue to maintain other commitments, such as work, education, and caring for family. Because they are still present in their daily lives, patients also retain greater anonymity because they do not have to explain the long absence that would be necessary in attending an inpatient program. People who attend IOP’s have either completed a residential program and are ready to go back to work or school, or they feel that their addiction has not led them to a point where they need residential treatment.
Individual Therapy – individual therapy 1 to 2 times per week is essential in processing and working through the underlying issues that originally caused the client to develop the addiction. These underlying issues can be traumatic memories, emotional stress which can lead to anxiety or depression, and certain perceptions of the world that would make a person want to escape it through an addiction.
Self-help groups - these may help the patient meet other people with the same problem, which often boosts motivation. Self-help groups can be a useful source of education and information too. Examples include Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.