Substance abuse treatment plan. What to expect?
Addiction is one of the most brutal “secret” diseases in America. Over 20 million Americans over age 12 report having an addiction to something other than cigarettes. Overdose deaths have tripled over the course of the past two decades, with a devastating 100 people losing their lives to this tragic battle daily. 2.6 million addicts report being dependent both on illegal drugs and alcohol, a comorbidity that sharply increases their risk of serious illness and death. Even more upsetting is the fact that over 90% of addicted people report that their addiction began before they were legal adults. When an illness is so widespread and its sufferers so diverse, the need for individualized treatment plans becomes clear.
Development of Dependence
Addiction starts with dependency, which can be both physical and psychological. Alcohol, opiates and benzodiazepines in particular are notorious for producing serious – even deadly – withdrawal symptoms in a patient who is physically dependent. If addicts experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using drugs or alcohol, they have developed a physical dependency. In this case, the first and most essential part of their safe recovery is a medical detox, in which doctors will be able to supervise and treat them as needed. Without the aid of a doctor during this process, an addict may face serious medical consequences or symptoms so severe they feel they have no choice but to relapse, which makes a medical detox essential in the case of chemical dependency.
Personal Needs and Preferences
Because there are so many addicted people, we know that addicts don’t have a singular profile. They can be young or old, rich or poor, well loved or lonely, fitting any profile in between. This means that for treatment to succeed, it needs to adjust to an addict’s physical and mental needs. High profile clients may require treatment that’s discreet at facilities where they won’t be seen. Addicts who have trouble engaging socially may struggle with group treatments. An addict who has been traumatized may need to avoid certain triggers that should be established early on. By taking the time to examine each patient’s unique needs, they can best be guided toward a path of sobriety that can begin to feel comfortable and natural to them over time.
Comorbidity with Mental Illness
Over one quarter of addicts in the United States report a diagnosis of mental illness. Mental illness is one of the most explicitly stated risk factors for drug use, and treating addiction in a mentally ill person can neither begin nor end with the addiction itself – underlying mental health factors must be addressed to achieve long term success. Untreated mental illness can quickly undermine any amount of effort or structure patients and their doctors put forth, so identifying and treating any potential mental illnesses that may be exacerbating an addiction is crucial.
Comorbidity with Physical Illness
It’s a familiar story – an addiction that began with prescribed opioid painkillers after an injury or accident. The pain continued, the addiction continued, and the prescription did not. In pain and withdrawing, an addict turns to heroin. This is only one of many ways in which physical illness can portend addiction, and painfully, the reverse is also true. Substance abuse can lead to physical ailments that are so symptomatically unpleasant that the only way an addict feels they can cope is through continued use of their substance of choice. Treating physical ailments that led to or resulted from a dependency is an essential part of continued sobriety.
One of the most important things to establish at the beginning of any treatment plan is a support system. In some cases, a family environment can provide this for an addict, but it’s never a safe assumption. Family members may also be addicts, sources of trauma or triggers for addictive behavior. In these cases, part of a successful substance abuse treatment may include inpatient rehab or temporary or permanent relocation for the patient.
Like mental and physical issues, legal issues both cause and be caused by addiction issues. The tremendous stress and pressure created by legal difficulties can cause a person to turn to substance abuse or find themselves unable to stop using, even in the face of significant consequences. In order to be fully effective, a treatment plan should address any legal issues an addict is facing by connecting them with legal assistance resources and monitoring the eventual outcome of any open cases.