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Treatment of Drug and Substance Addiction – An Overview


The disease of addiction entails a lot of complexities which affect every sphere of the addict’s life as well as that of his family members. Addiction, like any other chronic disease, is treatable. Treatment of addiction has several components which aims at making the victim drug free and rehabilitating him into the mainstream of life. It covers detoxification and management of medical problems, providing individual, family and group counseling and extending follow-up care.

Treatment of addiction is primarily based on certain guiding principles, the salient one being that recovery from addiction is possible though there is a probability of relapse and recovery is usually a long process. The treatment procedure must focus on various needs of the recovering person – physical, psychological, legal, vocational, spiritual and others. Counseling forms an integral part of the treatment and this should continue for an adequate period of time. Regular monitoring of the individual’s needs, problems and his progress is essential.

The involvement of family, community, workplace and support groups facilitate recovery. Co-morbidity is one of the most chief factors since most of the addicts do suffer from different types of physical or mental problems which, if left untreated, will take a more serious form in recovery and this might act as a trigger for relapse.

The initial step in treating an addict is assessment of the causes of addiction and identification of the most appropriate treatment modalities which could meet his needs.

Detoxification is the next step which deals with the abstinence syndrome caused by the cessation of the use of drugs. Detoxification can be done in a controlled environment such as at a detoxification center or on an outpatient basis.

The early detoxification phase is followed by counseling – individual or group. This enables the client to assess his problems and motivates him to develop coping skills.

An effective treatment procedure should have a component of aftercare since it is essential to sustain recovery.

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