Substance Abuse – Treatments & Preventions

by Vanya Sharma last updated -

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There is no particular age for substance abuse, as addiction can strike people at any given moment of time, if and when they misuse the same. Our brain is wired in such a way that if we do something that feels good, we will probably want to do it again. Substance abuse, which is also known as drug abuse, refers to a situation when a user gets addicted to the effects caused by a drug and in turn suffers from the damage and complications it brings along. Drug abuse causes several physical as well as psychological damages. Proper treatments of substance abuse target to detoxify the victim and counsel his or her behavior, to prevent the relapse of addiction. There are mainly two methods of treatments of drug abuse.

Substance (Drug) Abuse Treatments

There are various treatments and therapies that one can undergo in order to deal with the drug abuse problem. Let us take a look at them below:

Pharmacotherapy Treatment

Pharmacotherapy treatment basically refers to treatments of drug abuse with the help of medication. It aims to control dependence on drug or alcohol by detoxifying and preventing the relapse of addiction and opioid maintenance. Medicines are provided to a drug abuse victim to detoxify the system. It also fights the withdrawal symptoms usually seen during this process of cleansing.
Pharmacotherapy also targets to control the chances of the addiction relapsing. There are high chances of relapse in most patients during or after this treatment. Medicines are provided to medically assist the patient in maintaining sobriety. The patients are also monitored and provided with psychological counseling to fight depression and urges for relapse.

Dr. Kathleen M Carroll, Ph.D., Psychiatry, Division of Addiction and Substance Abuse, Yale School of Medicine, is of the opinion that the two major forms of treatment for drug abuse— psychosocial treatments, and pharmacologic treatments, have numerous differences such as the time taken for the treatment to work, target symptoms, mode of action, durability, and applicability across drugs of abuse. Furthermore, she states that the ideal treatment would be to combine both, pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy, as they are the most effective.

Often, patients who do not respond to other forms of treatment are left to be treated with the opioid maintenance method of treatment. Substances like Methadone, Buprenorphine and Naltrexone are given to patients as synthetic opioid agonists to limit both, the cravings and euphoria. This helps to control the effects of substance abuse and end a person’s drug dependence. This is usually followed by the next step after detoxification and is performed with behavioral counseling.

Behavioral Therapies

Dr. Carroll and Dr. Lisa Onken, former Associate Director for Treatment at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), have found that cognitive behavior therapy, contingency management, couples and family therapy, and a variety of other types of behavioral treatment work wonders in curing several kinds of drug abuse. Psychological counseling is one of the major ways of treatments for drug abuse. Patients go through various levels of counseling and behavioral therapies during the course of treatment. It involves motivating them to live without dependence on drugs and alcohol, providing them with incentives for abstinence from such substances and changing their attitudes towards life and dependence on drugs to live. It teaches them to take life positively and fight depression in ways other than falling prey to drug abuse. It helps them learn to cope with stress and pressure in various other ways and fight cravings for drugs in order to help them lead a sober life.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

It aims to correct the problematic behavior of patients and correct their maladaptive behavior through the process of making them learn positive habits. It focuses on controlling relapse of addiction during and after the treatment.

Community Reinforcement Approach

This therapy involves associating the patients with a social life full of interactions with the society and family.  It has several recreations to let them choose between the benefits of a normal, non-drug free life and the disadvantages of a life of abuse.

12-step Facilitation Therapy

This is a step-by-step long procedure of treatment that aims at addressing the problems of the victims by helping them identify and find ways to promote abstinence from substances.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy

This therapy aims to arouse internal motivation in the patients to lead a sober life. It strengthens their motivation to lead a normal life and eliminates the risks of relapses.

Family Behavior Therapy

It targets not only the drug abuse of the patient but also the co-related problems associated with the family. It also aims at keeping a close tab on the patient’s behavior with the members of the family.

Prevention of Drug Abuse

Drug abuse has become a pertinent problem in the society and awareness is the biggest medicine to eradicate it. Some ways of preventing drug abuse from happening are:

Talk to Children from a Young Age

Young people tend to drift away towards unlawful activities and are often victims of substance abuse quite early in their lives. Parents and schools should teach and make them aware of the negative sides of drug abuse so that they do not fall prey to it.

Run Drug Awareness Campaigns

The society should have government-run drug awareness campaigns and success stories by survivors to inspire victims to lead a normal life, free from dependence on drugs.

Seek Help for Depression

One of the major reasons for people falling for drugs is depression. Remember that drugs are never the answer to depression. Seek medical help from a psychological counselor to fight your depression in the right way.

Addiction is a disease that not only affects your brain but also your behavior. While you may have control over your choice to start using drugs, you may not be able to stop it instantly, courtesy the pleasurable effect that gets you hooked onto them. While these treatment and prevention methods will come in handy if you or your loved ones show signs of substance abuse, consult a medical supervisor nevertheless.

About the Author

Vanya is a passionate writer with interest in the field of health, nutrition, culture, and lifestyle. She wants to spread awareness about mental health and how to tackle it. Apart from work, she spends her time reading books, watching movies, listening to music, and sometimes just collecting her thoughts. One may often find her interacting with nature and its various aspects.

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