Quitting is always difficult because the addict invariably denies being addicted and usually insists that he or she can quit any day. Only those who have some sort of 'inner realization' are able to quit drugs on their own. Most need help to quit, and more importantly, to stay drug-free.
Treatment involves a long process that extends to a lifetime of accepting one's proneness to addiction. The first step is to motivate the addict to leave drugs, which may be done by friends, family, or by professional counselors or ex-addicts. The subsequent stages of treatment are:
This is done in a specialized set-up equipped to handle drug-withdrawal by appropriate medication, prevent complications of sudden withdrawal (such as seizures, dehydration, delirium, severe insomnia), and to treat other disorders caused by drugs (liver cirrhosis, respiratory problems, infections). The duration is two to three weeks.
Psychotherapy and counseling:
Aimed at altering addictive behavior, this includes individual therapy and family therapy to help family members of recovering addicts learn new strategies to cope, resolve conflicts and prevent relapse. Also included is group therapy with other recovering addicts, craving control, relaxation techniques, leisure time planning and lifestyle review.
Psychosocial rehabilitation is required to bring the ex-addict back to the mainstream of life. Carried out in specialized settings, a person may be required to stay admitted for a period of time.
Anti-craving or antagonist medicines:
Certain medicines that reduce drug craving (naltrexone in alcoholism and opiates), or block the high of a drug, or those that produce an adverse effect by reacting with the drug (disulfiram with alcohol), or mimics the action of the drug (methadone in opiates) may be used to 'buy' time to effectively rehabilitate the addict.
As relapsing into an addiction is fairly common, effective aftercare and relapse prevention programs have to be followed. These require follow-up at treatment Centers for about one to two years. These programs aim at addressing outstanding issues, reducing stress, reviewing treatment gains, taking up new responsibilities and producing lifestyle changes that help a person grow.
The road to recovery does not end here, as it is a continuous journey. Though the risk of relapse decreases with the passage of time, nevertheless it can still occur. The treatment enhances the client's capacity to cope and progress on a drug free life.