Drug rehab is the most effective option for anyone suffering from drug addiction. There are a number of reasons for this, first and foremost being that detox can be dangerous, and second, it is often difficult to resist cravings in the early stages of recovery.
Drug rehab offers a safe, protected environment in which to detox from drugs, get a thorough psychiatric assessment of any underlying disorders such as depression or anxiety, and develop a set of tools to help you stay free of drugs when you return to your home environment.
Most families are completely perplexed by the behavior of the addict. They see the damage that is done and the escalating consequences, and they honestly can’t understand why the addict doesn’t simply stop. There are compelling reasons why the addict simply cannot, in most cases, just stop.
The first is the physical dependence created by continued use of narcotic or other addictive drugs. The body essentially becomes accustomed to these drugs. Largely this is due to changes in the brain that occur with regular drug use, specifically changes in how the brain produces what are known as neurotransmitters. You have probably heard of endorphins – those chemicals that are released when you are excited or after a good workout. They give you a feeling of wellness, even euphoria. Another chemical in the brain that produces feelings of pleasure is dopamine.
Many drugs act specifically on the parts of the brain responsible for the production and recycling of these “pleasure chemicals” in the brain. Remove the drug, the addict crashes. They begin to feel the itch to use the drug as soon as it begins to wear off – then the compulsion grows as less and less of the drug is available in the body. You might say the brain sends out signals akin to those signals you would get if you were in the desert and had no water. Your desire is intense. You will do most anything to get just one sip of water. While this might sound extreme, in essence, the drugs have become as important as food and water to the brain of the addict.
Because of the overwhelming power of cravings, it stands to reason that being in a protected environment such as a drug rehab, would make it much more likely the addict could be weaned from those drugs. Many of the best drug rehabs use replacement therapy, particularly for opiate addiction (such as OxyContin, Vicodin, and other narcotic pain relievers). The goal of the drug rehab should be to then wean the patient off the replacement drugs during the first five to ten days of treatment.
Once the addict is free of the mood-altering drugs, the healing begins. A good drug rehab will offer healthy, highly nutritional fare. Many addicts are undernourished because they have neglected their basic needs. The rehab should also have some sort of daily exercise program. This might include visits to the gym, yoga, hiking, and other healthy activities. Physical activity does more than condition your body, it helps your brain naturally produce those neurotransmitters we spoke about earlier. This can be very helpful in early recovery as the brain relearns how to appropriately produce and cycle these natural chemicals.
Drug rehab treatment also includes individual therapy, process groups, and some introduction to peer support groups such as 12-step groups in the outside world. Higher end drug rehabs will also offer specialized treatments such as neurofeedback (or EEG biofeedback), EMDR, equine-assisted psychotherapy, art therapy, meditation training, and acupuncture. The primary goal of the top drug rehabs is to take a holistic approach to give the addict the best possible chance of continued recovery when they return home.
If you or someone you love is addicted to drugs, drug rehab is likely their best hope for a life free of the devastating effects of addiction.
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