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What is the treatment for drug addiction?

The treatment for drug addiction is intended to help the addict to stop the compulsive search and consumption of the drug. Treatment can occur in a variety of settings, in many different ways and for different periods of time. Since drug addiction is usually a chronic disorder characterized by occasional relapses, a single cycle of short-term treatment […]

The treatment for drug addiction is intended to help the addict to stop the compulsive search and consumption of the drug. Treatment can occur in a variety of settings, in many different ways and for different periods of time. Since drug addiction is usually a chronic disorder characterized by occasional relapses, a single cycle of short-term treatment is usually not enough. For many people, treatment is a long-term process that involves several interventions and constant supervision.

There are several scientifically based approaches to dealing with drug addiction. Treatment for drug addiction may include behavior therapy (such as individual or group therapy, cognitive therapy or contingency management), medications or a combination of them. The specific type of treatment or combination of treatments varies according to the individual needs of the patient and, often, depending on the type or types of drugs used. The severity of the addiction and previous attempts to stop using drugs can also influence the treatment approach. Finally, addicts often suffer from other health problems (including other mental disorders), occupational, legal, family and social, which must be treated concurrently.

The best treatment programs offer a combination of therapies and other services to meet the individual needs of each patient. Specific needs may relate to aspects such as age, race, culture, pregnancy, consumption of other drugs, concurrent health problems (egg, depression, HIV), child rearing, housing and work, in addition to a history of physical .

Treatment for drug addiction may include behavior therapy, medications or a combination of them.

There are medications, such as methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone, which are used to treat people addicted to opioid substances, while for nicotine addicts there are nicotine preparations (patches, chewing gums, pills and nasal spray) in addition to the varenicline and bupropion medications. Disulfiram, acamprosate, and naltrexone are medications used to treat alcohol dependence, which commonly occurs along with other drug addictions. In fact, most people with severe addiction are consumers of various drugs and require treatment for all substances that abuse. It has even been proven that people who have problems with alcoholism and smoking can be treated simultaneously for both problems.

Behavioral therapies can help motivate drug abusers to participate in drug treatment facilities, offer strategies to cope with the desire to use drugs, teach ways to avoid drugs and prevent relapse, and help in the management of relapse in if they occur. Behavioral therapies can also help improve communication skills, interpersonal relationships and parenting, as well as family dynamics.

Group therapy can provide social reinforcement and help foster abstinence and a drug-free lifestyle.  However, especially in adolescents, there may be a danger of iatrogenic or involuntary effects of group treatment; that is why trained therapists should be aware of such effects and monitor them.

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