Is It Possible to Fully Recover from Drug Addiction?

Many questions come to mind when you realise that you have become addicted to drugs or alcohol. “Will my life ever go back to normal?”, “Does addiction last a lifetime?” and “How long before I can be cured?” are just some of the many queries that run through patients’ minds when in drug rehab in Bali. Here we will try to address some of these concerns in trying to figure out if it is possible to achieve full recovery from drug addiction.

Can addiction be treated?

Drug addiction can definitely be treated. There are many inpatient and outpatient treatment programs that an addict can try to help get on the path to recovery. The decision as to whether one should opt for an inpatient or outpatient program is typically guided by how severe the addiction is. If severe, then an inpatient program would be best.

Inpatient programs require that the patient or their next of kin, check them into a rehab clinic. The clinic offers a controlled environment where the patient can receive round-the-clock medical and psychological care for the duration of their stay. Depending on the program, it may also be possible for the family of the patient to participate in some form of counselling.

Outpatient care is for less severe cases whereby the patient attends therapy, group meetings and teaching sessions for several hours each week. This treatment can also be the next step for those who complete inpatient programs. Both options can be highly effective and make it possible for a patient to turn their life around.

How is addiction treated?

The first stage of drug addiction treatment is treating withdrawal. This is especially important for moderate to severe cases as withdrawal symptoms can often be serious. They tend to manifest physically and emotionally and lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, sleeplessness and mental breakdowns.

It is common for this part of the treatment to involve the use of certain medications and devices to help alleviate these symptoms. The medications can be used for even longer periods to help adjust the brain to functioning without the drug that was being abused. This soothing effect will often help the patient to better focus on their rehabilitation.

Behavioural therapies are often an integral part of rehab programs and ongoing recovery. The range of therapies may vary depending on the program but should have an overall effect of helping patients to discover what their triggers are and learn how to cope with them to avoid relapsing. Some of the therapies may include:

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy – This treatment teaches patients to understand and recognise their triggers, how to avoid them and cope with stressful situations that would likely lead them to abuse drugs again.
  • Contingency management – It involves positive reinforcement whereby patients are rewarded in some way for keeping off drugs and adhering to the treatments provided, including participation in group and individual counselling.
  • Family therapy – This often requires participation from family members and is mostly used with young addicts. Discussions revolve around drug abuse patterns, the impact on the family and how to improve the situation.
  • 12-Step facilitation – This is an individual therapy that is undergone over a 12-week period that prepares patients to move on to mutual support programs.

Undergoing drug rehabilitation allows patients to first put a stop to their drug use before embarking on what will be a lifelong journey of recovery. There is always the possibility of relapse even with the strongest resolve. However, with proper treatment and the right support, there are better chances that these people will be able to return to normal life and rebuild the relationships that were damaged as a result of the addiction.

Does addiction have a cure?

While drug addiction can be treated, there is no cure for it. As said, the recovery process is a lifelong journey. Drug addiction works similar to many other chronic conditions, in that while there is no cure, it can be managed and allow the patient to restore a sense of normalcy to their life.

The treatment programs that addicts attend provide them with the tools and knowledge they need to cope with the triggers and struggles that make them vulnerable to drug addiction. Even at the earliest stage, when going through detox, the medications administered help to counteract the disruptive effect of the drugs on the brain and help people regain control of their lives. With ongoing therapy and support from loved ones and a healthy lifestyle, they stand a good chance of being able to overcome their addiction and not relapse.

Does a relapse mean treatment has failed?

Relapsing does not mean that rehabilitation treatment failed. A relapse is when a patient falters and finds themselves back to abusing the drug that caused them addiction or some other drug. It has been suggested in certain quarters that drug addicts can easily exchange one addiction for another. Hence a person who may have undergone treatment for cocaine addiction may find themselves later addicted to marijuana. However, some medical experts assert that the substitution of addictions is not real as people often tend to stick to a particular class of drug.

Whatever treatment plan a patient follows, if they stop adhering to it, then that can increase their chances of relapsing. It is not that the treatment has failed, but rather that the patient has failed to adhere to the program. Sticking it out is what will lead to positive outcomes.

There must be a determination to address the deep-seated behaviours that are triggering the desire for drugs. When a relapse occurs, it means that there is probably a need to make some adjustments to the treatment or try another program.

It is important not to be discouraged if you experience a relapse. This is a common occurrence when it comes to drug addiction, but unfortunately, one that can be dangerous enough to cause serious physical and psychological harm. It can even result in death, especially if the person overdoses as their bodies are no longer as accustomed to the drugs as they were before treatment.

Also note that during detoxification, the medications that are used to help overcome the most severe physical effects of the addiction are in no way a cure even if they can provide effective relief. They are merely an assist to the first step of recovery and there must be subsequent treatment otherwise a relapse is more than likely. And, not all drugs that are abused have medications that can be prescribed during detox. This includes cases of addiction to cannabis and stimulants. In these cases, patients will start their treatment with behavioural therapies complemented by healthy lifestyle changes that can aid in repairing the brain.

Does the brain heal from drug use?

Drug addiction has a profound effect on the brain. It is important to understand that there is no fixed timeline for when you can expect to finally feel normal again. Often, the length of recovery will be influenced by such factors as:

  • The type of drug you abused
  • How long you took the drug
  • The amount of drugs taken
  • How you go about detox
  • How well you stick to your treatment plan

When you abuse drugs, there is a change that occurs to your brain’s neurons that cause you to feel good each time you take the drug. There is a heightened release of dopamine and when you come down from this feeling, you begin to experience cravings for the drug again. This means the feeling created has a temporary effect, but the impact on your brain in being unable to manage cravings will be more lasting.

Forming healthy habits and sticking to them can contribute towards improving brain health and recovery. This can include eating a healthy diet, exercising and getting adequate rest. The rest lies in getting psychological help during detox, rehab and beyond. This can involve undergoing therapy and attending group meetings.

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