Addiction - Treatment

There are many treatments available for people who suffer from addiction. These treatments are designed to deal with one or both forms of addiction: physiological and psychological. For example, people who are addicted to certain substances must often go through withdrawal therapy. Withdrawal therapy involves placing patients in a protected area where they are no longer allowed to use and where they have no access to the substance to which they are addicted.

This form of withdrawal therapy is sometimes called "drug detoxification." The term means that the toxins (poisons) in a person's system caused by drug addiction are being removed from the body.

Withdrawal therapy can be very difficult. The person's body may still be expecting its daily ration of the abusive substance. When the substance is not provided, the body may react strongly. Nausea, vomiting, pain, and hallucinations are common side effects of withdrawal therapy. In some cases, patients must be physically restrained to help them get through this period.

Medications are also available for treating addictions. Perhaps the best known example is methadone. Methadone is a chemical that has many properties similar to heroin. For example, it is addictive, just as heroin is. But methadone does not have the narcotic effects of heroin. A narcotic is a substance that dulls the senses and makes a person drowsy and sleepy. People who are addicted to heroin may be treated by giving them methadone instead. Ideally, the methadone treatment can very slowly be reduced until the patient is no longer addicted to either drug.

Various forms of counseling are also used to treat addictions. The theory behind counseling is that people become addicts because of serious problems in their lives. If those problems can be resolved, they may be less inclined to depend on addictive substances or behavior.

In some cases, one-on-one counseling may work best. An addict meets regularly with a trained mental health worker, and the two discuss the patient's life and try to find solutions to problems that may have led to addiction. Group counseling is another option. People with common addictions may meet with a professional counselor to discuss their problems.

Perhaps the best-known examples of group counseling are the so-called 12-step programs. The original 12-step program was Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). The term "12-step" comes from the stages of recovery through which AA members are expected to pass. The AA 12-step model is now used by other groups working to overcome other types of addiction.

Alternative Treatment

Acupuncture (a Chinese therapy technique where fine needles puncture the body) has been used to decrease withdrawal symptoms. Meditation and yoga have been suggested to help control behavior addictions.

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