What is Drug Addiction?

Drug addiction is marked by an uncontrollable or compulsive need to seek and use drugs despite facing harmful consequences which usually last a long time. Drug addiction changes the brain chemistry negatively which can lead to harmful behaviors as is often seen in people who use drugs regularly. Drug addiction is also relapsing in nature meaning a person is likely to return to using them even after attempting to stop the drug usage for some time.

Addiction usually starts with a person voluntarily taking drugs. But, with time, their personal ability to make an independent choice between using and not using is compromised. It becomes a compulsion to seek and take drugs. It happens because prolonged drug usage affects the part of the brain that controls reward and motivation, behavior, memory, and learning. 

Drug addiction is a disease that affects both behavior and the brain.

Is it Possible to Treat Drug Addiction?

Yes, it’s possible. But, you should know that since addiction is a chronic and multi-faced disease; its treatment is not always simple. Also, stopping drugs for a few days or weeks is not a cure either. Most drug addicts need long-term care and approach to recover from addiction and lead a sober life.

All addiction treatment programs are supposed to achieve the following – 

  • Put a stoppage to drug usage
  • Help to stay off drugs
  • Help in bolstering productivity at work, in family, and in society.

Different kinds of treatment programs work for difficult individuals. The programs can be tweaked to meet the individual needs of the person. 

Common Treatment Programs to Overcome Drug Addiction

Inpatient Rehab

Under the inpatient rehab treatment method, patients are made to reside within a residential treatment center for varying lengths. The average stay duration is a month but many facilities offer programs that are 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, and even longer than that.

The length of the program depends on factors like:

  • Co-occurring conditions, which require dual diagnosis treatment
  • Severity of addiction
  • History of addiction

Many inpatient centers offer family counseling as part of their program wherein the family members take part in the discussion and other activities. The idea is to identify and mend dysfunctional relationships that might be triggering a relapse. 

Different inpatient facilities will offer different forms of accommodations and features. While some are very basic that have shared rooms and nothing more than 3 meals a day, others offer more luxurious amenities as well such as gym, spa, pool, etc.

Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient rehabs are another popular addiction care program that offers many of the similar therapies and treatments as inpatient rehabs. However, with the latter – patients are allowed to live at home as the recovery is in progress. Patients can resume their everyday activities and work and continue to spend time with their families and friends. Treatment sessions are scheduled throughout the week.

You should know that since outpatient rehab facilities do not isolate patients from outside influences, the risk for relapses and triggers that often come in the way of smooth recovery and sobriety are greater. It’s because of this that outpatient facilities are best for people with milder forms of drug addiction who are committed to bringing their life back on track and want to achieve full recovery.

Drug and Alcohol Detox

Detoxification processes are designed to help people withdraw from drugs and alcohol until the substance is no longer present in the system. Detoxification is generally the first step in any treatment program in case of individuals who have moderate-severe addiction. 

In some cases, the person may need medication-assisted therapy during detoxification in order to ease the withdrawal symptoms which can often be severe. The medication is slowly tapered down as the person gains physical independence from the addictive substance.

The time frame to get through withdrawal symptoms can vary from a few days to a few months. This depends on myriad factors like:

  • Nature of substance the person is addicted to
  • Duration of addiction
  • Severity of addiction
  • Methods of usage such as swallowing, injecting, smoking, snorting, etc.
  • Family history
  • Genetic makeup
  • Underlying mental and physical health conditions

Sober Living Homes

Sober Living Homes act as the bridge during the time a person returns from an inpatient alcohol rehab or drug treatment facility to their normal life. The homes provide an outlet for patients to practice what they learnt in the rehab center without suddenly exposing them to the outside world which is generally full of triggers. In this way, the person is able to reinforce and strengthen new and healthy habits they learned while still living in the outside world in a structured environment.

Addiction Treatment Medications

Patients are often prescribed medication to help the recovery progress. Medication-assisted addiction recovery, such as through methadone clinics, is very popular. The medications serve several purposes such as – to manage withdrawal symptoms, manage co-occurring conditions, and reduce cravings.

Different medications are best for treating withdrawal symptoms. The most common medications given in conjunction with detox are:


Benzodiazepines help to reduce irritability and anxiety both of which are common symptoms of drug withdrawal. The medication can have a mildly sedative effect which helps ease the withdrawal.


Due to the altered brain chemistry due to addiction, a person is unable to produce the necessary amount of happiness chemicals. That’s the reason most people experience depression during withdrawal periods. Prozac and Zoloft are two common antidepressants that relieve the feelings of depression and anxiety until the brain is once again able to produce happiness-chemicals on its own without relying on drugs.


Clonidine is a medication that is common for managing opiate and alcohol withdrawal symptoms. It helps reduce cramps, anxiety, muscle aches, and sweating. It can also avoid seizures and stop tremors which are common during the detoxification process.

You should know that all of these medications are prescribed by doctors. Also, using them in the wrong combination can have deadly effects. Therefore, always work with a doctor and never self-medicate. 

In Conclusion

Drug and Alcohol addictions are serious issues that need a multifaceted approach and a well-thought-out program. With the right support and care – you can overcome any addiction and lead an addiction-free, sober, and healthy life.