Over the years, much progress has been made in reducing the stigma surrounding certain medical conditions, such as HIV and cancer. However, the same cannot be said for substance use disorders. Those struggling with addiction often face blame and shame for their condition, which can lead to a lack of understanding, support, and effective treatment. Overcoming addiction stigma is crucial to helping people get the help they so desperately need.
Despite the recognition of addiction as a disease, many individuals still view it as a personal choice or moral failure. In fact, research shows that addiction is more highly stigmatized than other health issues like mental illness. In fact:
These statistics highlight the extent of stigma and discrimination those struggling with substance abuse face. The negative attitudes and beliefs towards people with substance use disorders are deeply ingrained in society and often result in individuals facing isolation, shame, and difficulty accessing support and treatment. And when the country is waging war on drugs due to the opioid crisis, it is more important than ever to address the stigma and discrimination towards people struggling with substance abuse.
Stigma increases the risk of opioid overdose cases by discouraging people from seeking help due to fear of rejection. It can also prevent people in recovery from being able to fully reintegrate into society, impacting their employment, housing, and social opportunities. It is important to challenge these stigmatizing beliefs and attitudes toward addiction and promote empathy, understanding, and support for those struggling with addiction. Ending stigma is the best way to save lives.
Stigma refers to negative attitudes, beliefs, and stereotypes that are attached to individuals or groups based on certain characteristics or circumstances, such as addiction. Stigma can create a barrier for individuals seeking help or support and exacerbate feelings of shame, guilt, low self-worth, and isolation.
According to the 2021 survey by NSDUH, 40.7 million adults with substance use disorders did not get treatment at a specialty facility. Of this number, 39.5 million (96.8%) didn’t feel like they needed treatment, and 837,000 (2.1%) believed they needed care but didn’t try to get treatment.
Some examples of stigma towards those with addiction include:
Stigma related to heavy drinking and illegal drug use can come from various sources, including primary care physicians, friends, family, employers, media, and society. The justice system also contributes to stigma because it incarcerates those with addiction instead of helping them seek treatment.
Various resources are available for people struggling with addiction, including support groups like Alcoholic’s Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), which offer a community of peers who understand the challenges of addiction. You can also join inpatient or outpatient programs for a safe and supportive environment that allows you to focus on your recovery. Treatment centers provide a range of treatment options that include:
Remember that recovery is a journey, and it is important to be patient and kind to yourself along the way. You can overcome addiction and lead a healthy and fulfilling life with the right support and resources. Don’t suffer in silence; reach out for help today.
Harm reduction is a public health approach that aims to reduce the harms associated with drug or alcohol use, even if the individual is not yet ready to quit. Harm reduction strategies can include safe injection sites, needle exchange programs, and overdose prevention initiatives. Harm reduction efforts can help individuals manage the risks associated with drug or alcohol use and provide a supportive and non-judgmental approach to addiction.
If you are struggling with addiction, knowing that you are not alone is important. Addiction is a common issue that affects millions of people around the world. While it may feel like you are the only one dealing with this problem, many others are also struggling and seeking help. By reaching out for help, you can connect with others who understand what you are going through and provide you with support and encouragement.
Addiction is more than a physical dependence on substances. Even after detox, when the body is no longer hooked, one is still at high risk of relapse. Factors like stress, environmental cues, and social networks can create a strong ongoing urge to use again. That’s why therapies like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) come in handy. CBT helps one escape cravings and learn to manage what life throws at them without alcohol and drugs.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of talk therapy. It bases on the belief that addictions arise and are worsened by a series of negative thought patterns. CBT helps people identify and explore thought patterns that tend to undermine their ability to make healthy choices. It then arms them with the right tools to reframe their thoughts and go back to a healthy and addiction-free life.
CBT is a problem-specific and purposeful approach that needs one’s active participation to succeed. It uses different strategies to identify thought patterns that lend towards an addiction. These strategies include mental distractions, relaxation techniques, role-playing, and journaling. Unlike other therapies that dwell on the past, CBT focuses on present-day thoughts, challenges, and behaviors.
Different approaches and techniques can help address behaviors, emotions and thoughts. Here are some common therapeutic approaches that involve CBT:
Cognitive therapy: It finds and changes negative thinking behaviors, patterns and emotional responses.
Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT): REBT finds and changes irrational beliefs. It also helps one to learn to identify and change these thought patterns.
Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT): DBT focuses on behaviors and thoughts. It also integrates mindfulness and emotional regulation approaches.
Multimodal therapy: It looks into psychological issues by addressing the seven modalities. These include imagery, cognition, sensation, affect, behavior, interpersonal traits and biological/drug considerations.
CBT can be used as a short-term treatment geared to help people with:
This article will focus on CBT and its help in treating drug-related addiction.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy’s primary goals in treating drug and alcohol addiction are:
In the therapy session, the patient will learn different attributes that will help uphold their sobriety. They will learn coping skills, resilience, assertiveness, stress management skills and relaxation skills. CBT has two main components in its use to treat drug-related addiction. These are skills training and functional analysis.
FA is an essential step in CBT. In FA, the therapist and patient break down behavior chain into its respective parts. They seek to identify the feelings, thoughts, and situations that caused the substance abuse in the first place. Once they determine how and why a behavior was formed, the therapist and patient can then change parts of the behavior chain to get a different result.
People turn to drugs or alcohol to manage stress, anxiety, depression and so on. If a person gets to a point where they’re receiving treatment for substance abuse, it’s likely they’re abusing drugs as a way to cope with some set of problems. Skills training tries to help these people unlearn bad habits and learn better coping skills. This way, they’ll know how to apply them in situations that trigger their substance use. Skill training changes the way people think about their addiction. It also teaches them better ways to tolerate their inner feelings of distress.
CBT was initially designed to prevent relapse when treating alcohol issues. This is according to a research-based guide by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Later on, the therapy was adapted in the treatment of drug-related addictions. These drugs include cocaine, nicotine, marijuana, and methamphetamine. It was also applied in the treatment of addiction to prescription drugs. The National Institute on Drugs Addiction post cited one interesting study. This study showed that 6 in 10 patients in CBT had a clean toxicology screening at their 12-month follow up.
Another evidence from several large-scale trials and quantitative reviews point to the effectiveness of CBT for addiction. An NIH group did a meta-analytic review of CBT for drug use and addiction, including 34 randomized controlled trials. CBT treated a total of 2,340 patients. The results revealed that marijuana patients got the best outcomes. Opioids and cocaine patients also got incredible results. But individuals with polydrug dependence had the smallest effects. That’s to say, those struggling with multiple-drug use issues would benefit more from other treatments.
CBT for drug addiction includes a range of interventions, either combined or used in isolation. The interventions can also be provided in individual, or group therapy. Group formats involve therapy with groups like Narcotics Anonymous or Alcohol Anonymous. Individual formats include detox, pharmaceutical, or residential treatments
Cognitive Behavioral therapy banks on the idea that feelings and actions are caused by one’s thoughts as opposed to outside stimuli like situations, people, or events. While a person cannot change their situation, they can change the way they think about them. CBT has been shown to help an individual in recovery to:
When untreated, a person can turn to drugs and alcohol to try to avoid the discomfort or pain that these situations cause.
CBT is an intense short-term treatment program. Under normal circumstances, a patient gets a weekly session for about 5-20 weeks. However, the frequency of sessions and length of treatment tend to differ based on a range of aspects. For instance, individuals with strong support from family and friends may have shorter treatment duration. The same applies to those with mild cases of addiction.
Other factors that might influence duration and treatment plan include patient needs, personal experiences and the duration of substance use. The type of disorder and level of withdrawal symptoms may also weigh in.
We all feel anxious from time to time – like when we have an upcoming speech, or when going to a job interview, and so on. Anxiety is a normal part of life. It is your body’s way of dealing with stressful situations and can keep you alert or help you perform better. To that end, anxiety is a good thing. However, there are times when the anxiety gets out of hand and starts being a problem. Like when it interferes with daily activities. Problem anxiety tends to be chronic and irrational and may result in or reflect an anxiety disorder. Anxiety and alcohol are a dangerous combination, resulting in a vicious cycle that never ends.
There are about 40 million people with an anxiety disorder in America at any given time. Of this number, 1 in 5 reports using alcohol to cope with stress.
Panic disorder: this anxiety disorder is characterized by the fear of having future attacks and losing control in public. Patients with panic attacks turn to alcohol to calm down or numb their fear of an impending attack. Research shows that alcoholism occurs on 10-40% of those with panic disorders and that 10-20% of panic disorder patients are struggling with addiction.
Post-traumatic stress disorder: Any psychological or physical trauma (like an accident or sexual abuse) that leaves one feeling out of control or powerless can cause PTSD. Many people with PTSD turn to alcohol to numb their pain or gain some control in their lives.
Social anxiety disorder: according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about 20% of people who struggle with social anxiety also struggle with alcohol use disorder. This is partly because they drink to try to relieve the stress that comes with social situations.
Specific phobia: those with specific phobias experience intense fear of a situation or thing that poses no immediate threat. Some common examples of phobias are small spaces, heights, and animals.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): is a common anxiety disorder affecting 3.1% or 6.8 million adults in the United States. It’s characterized by excessive and persistent worry about several different things – whether its work, family, health, money, etc. – even when there’s little or nothing to provoke it.
GAD makes an individual always nervous, tense, and worried about everything. Of course, this is no way to live, so some individuals turn to alcohol to cope with the condition. This article will delve deeper into GAD and how it affects those with alcoholism.
Anxiety disorder affects the central nervous system. It can increase blood flow, accelerate the heart rate, and push the brain into overdrive. Doctors often prescribe CNS depressants like benzodiazepines to treat extreme cases of anxiety. Benzodiazepines reduce GAD’s intensity of physiological symptoms, like panic attacks, headaches, muscle tension, restlessness, and insomnia – but so does alcohol (to some extent).
Alcohol is a sedative and depressant. In this way, it has some effects that mirror anti-anxiety medications like benzodiazepines. That’s why patients who cannot access a prescription for their anxiety problem often turn to alcohol to relieve their symptoms. Alcohol use is also common among those who can’t afford therapy or are too embarrassed to seek it. They drink up to increase their levels of relaxation and also mitigate stress in their lives.
But the use of alcohol to lower anxiety almost always fails. Anxiety is a mental disorder that can arise from long-term drinking. Substance-induced anxiety can happen in people with other anxiety disorders like GAD. Unfortunately, adding another anxiety only makes the GAD worsen.
Besides, those who depend on alcohol to mask their anxiety problems may start to rely on it to relax and may build a tolerance to the de-stressing effects of alcohol. This makes stress and anxiety even more difficult to cope with.
People struggling with anxiety may turn to alcohol to relieve stress. But long-term heavy drinking is also a risk factor for anxiety disorder. This is because alcohol upsets hormones, sleep, and brain function. When the mind and body don’t get enough rest, one may feel irritable and on edge. The changes in the brain may also increase the risk for anxiety issues. This is because the brain chemicals – neurotransmitters and serotonin – are responsible for positive mental health.
And as it turns out, alcohol doesn’t just cause anxiety – it can worsen it. A 2017 study indicated higher anxiety levels among individuals with alcohol use disorder than those without when faced with stress. In one review of 63 studies, reducing alcohol intake led to improvements in both anxiety and depression. According to the authors, cutting back on alcohol could enhance one’s self-confidence, social functioning, and mental and physical quality of life.
Still on anxiety, there’s also the aspect of concern and uneasiness that comes after drinking alcohol. Many heavy drinkers end up panicking as they try to review the things they might have said or done, and what others who were present are thinking of them.
Studies show a different trend of alcohol use among individuals with a generalized anxiety disorder. Most people with this mental health disorder start drinking excessively around the same time as the onset of anxiety symptoms. And while it still isn’t clear why this happens, researchers think that the initial signs are related to alcohol withdrawal. It is also possible that alcohol use presents a mechanism for anxiety and panic disorders to develop.
Not only does drinking lead to anxiety and anxiety lead to drinking, the two trigger each other into an unending cycle. Anxiety makes an individual start drinking. This only makes the anxiety worse. So they drink more to feel better but end up with even worse anxiety and so on.
The more alcohol one takes, the more tolerant they become. Over time, they may need to drink more alcohol to achieve the same effects. In the long run, this may negatively affect their mental health, leading to higher levels of depression and anxiety after drinking.
Patients are highly discouraged from trying to treat anxiety or detox from alcohol without help from a healthcare professional. The process needs professional oversight to help manage their conditions. There are many effective treatments for alcohol and anxiety disorders, including talk therapy, individual/group therapy, prescribed medications, or a blend of these methods. Patients should also join support groups for continued support throughout their recovery.
Biophysics is a field of science that applies methods and theories of physics to understand how biological systems work. It seeks to explain how life molecules are created, how different parts of a cell function, and how body systems – like circulation, brain, immune, etc. – work. Rehabs are now using the biophysical addiction treatment approach to create a powerful remedy that not only offers long-term effectiveness but one that addresses the physical emotional and psychological aspects of substance abuse.
Addiction does significant damage to an individual’s mental health, physical health, and overall well-being. Traditional rehab systems do a great join of arming these individuals with the right tools and resources to overcome addiction. But still, cases of relapse after 12-step and other conventional treatments are widespread. But the good thing is that more and more treatment centers are now incorporating biophysical addiction treatment programs that cater to individual needs, as opposed to taking a one-size-fits-all approach.
Biophysical rehabilitation programs use physical principles and methods to solve biological problems – like drug or alcohol abuse. Substance use overloads the body with toxins that disrupt its delicate balance, leading to damage to different processes and systems. Biophysical treatments are designed to reverse this damage that often occurs on the cellular level. It allows patients to regain balance and restore the body’s optimal functioning.
Biophysical treatment bases its model on the concept that life-long sobriety only happens when treatment is done at a physical, mental, and cellular level. It not only seeks to achieve sobriety but also to arm the patient with the necessary skills and mindset to have an optimal state of health for years to come. When the body is devoid of toxins on the cellular level, the treatment model suggests that both the physical and mental cravings will cease.
Relapsing is part of the recovery journey. But unlike the traditional programs which suggest that addiction is an incurable disease, and that relapse should be treated with more drugs or medication, biophysical treatment rehabs have proven that addiction is curable. The latter has shown that patients can experience permanent recovery using alternative treatment modalities.
Biophysical treatment centers report the highest success rates. This is partly because the non-traditional, non-12-step approach treats patients holistically. They do much more than offer one-size-fits-care or weekly follow-up meetings or limited patient success tracking. The other reason is that the programs run for around 90 days (or more), giving patients enough time to heal physically and mentally.
Rather than treating a single facet of an individual, the biophysical treatment acknowledges that each person is different, and their addiction problem revolves around the total of their experience. That’s why the model focuses on both the physical and physiological aspects of addiction. The first part of the program involves healing the physical aspects through detox. And the second part addresses mental health concerns.
An exciting yet incredible aspect of biophysical therapy is that they are often 100% natural programs. Unlike the conventional rehabs that use drug replacement therapies or medications to wean an individual off drugs, this program takes a drug-free approach to improve the health and well-being of the patient. These rehab facilities provide long-term and residential treatment programs that deliver all the essential elements for complete substance abuse rehab.
The module uses unique sauna programs to address the biochemical and biophysical imbalances. It also uses social education along with other methods that include light exercise, nutritional supplements, and counseling to help patients achieve long-term sobriety.
Medical sauna procedure is not only a great way to de-stress and relieve stress, but also release chemicals from the body. The sweating process gently and safely releases toxic chemicals. Medical studies show that most toxins can be expelled through the skin, relieving the burden on the liver and kidney. Biophysical treatments use sauna programs to detox their clients.
Since substance abuse and mental health problems often co-occur, detox alone won’t cut it. That’s why rehabs use different types of therapy, like cognitive behavioral therapy and family therapy, to treat the physiological aspect of addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, behavioral therapies provide incentives for patients to modify their attitudes, increase their life skills to handle triggers, and remain abstinent.
Many people with substance use disorder don’t eat well-balanced meals. So, in most cases, they will lack essential nutrients that are critical to overall health and recovery. Biophysical treatment centers offer a nutritional supplement to help ease withdrawal symptoms like irritability, depression, and fatigue that are common in patients with nutritional deficiencies. In his book dubbed Biochemical Individuality, Roger J. Williams, PhD., explained that rats that lacked specific vitamins consumed more alcohol than their healthier counterparts. But once the deficiencies were addressed, the consumption was lowered.
Exercise provides vast benefits. In addition to helping patients structure their days and provide a general positive feeling, exercise helps heal the body and brain. Research shows that exercise helps heal the body, even among healthy individuals. But it’s even more beneficial to recovering patients as it increases the number of new nerve connections in the brain. This allows the brain to recover from the harm that the substance had caused. Biophysical rehabs offer different kinds of exercise, including yoga, meditation, walks, and so on.
Once the treatment is over and the patient is discharged from the facility, most biophysical rehabs offer two or even more years of program follow-up to ensure long-term success. The same cannot be said for traditional programs that provide short-term follow-up and rarely track progress.
Most substance abuse programs treat addiction symptoms with more medications (for mental illnesses and withdrawal symptoms). Biophysical rehab centers address addiction using a holistic, biophysical approach. These centers recognize that drug therapy sometimes leads to relapse and that many patients resist the treatment for apparent contradictions. So, they provide a different approach that offers:
The natural approach is safer and effective in addressing addiction. Once all drug residues are eliminated from the body, the patient can then focus on clearing their mind and working to ensure they stay sober.
The main focus of biophysical rehab treatment is to give individuals more abilities in life. This is achieved by integrating skills and cognitive therapy that lets the patient raise their awareness and make pro-survival decisions. Through treatment, the patient gets to understands why they started abusing substances and are armed with skills not to fall back to the trap. They are also empowered to take control of their lives and communicate better, just so they can associate better with people.
Have you ever wondered why some addiction patients act with no thought of consequences? Like they run into a friend in town and accept a sudden invitation to get high when they have a job interview? Or they take part in pathological gambling despite the well-known risks of doing so? What really makes an addict so impulsive?
As it turns out, most people who are struggling with substance abuse act on impulse. So, this means many have trouble controlling their behaviors or emotions. Impulse disorder could be a sign of an underlying problem, like a mental health issue or other personality disorders.
In this article, we will look at the things that make addicts impulsive and the treatments that can help them. But first, let’s understand what an impulse disorder is.
An addict with impulsive behavior finds it hard to resist the sudden desire to do something that’s contrary to the societal norms. They may do so quickly, repeatedly, and with no consideration of the consequences.
Acting on impulse is not a bad thing. It can be a motivating force behind the artistic genius. For instance, some incredible music, books, and art come out of impulsive action. But most addiction patients are impulsive often, sometimes multiple times in a day.
While the cause of impulsiveness is not always evident, studies show that it may have something to do with the prefrontal lobe. According to this study, the prefrontal cortex is responsible for higher-order functions. These functions include conscious thought, spatial learning, decision-making, and judgment.
Addiction negatively affects this part of the brain and alters its functioning. So, someone who’s dependent on drugs or alcohol might be unable to make rational decisions or override impulsive urges. So, they end up acting on impulse without thinking, which is not usually in their best interest.
The ability to resist impulse urges allows us to function well in society. It keeps us from danger by enabling us to consider the outcomes of our actions. But when that part of the brain is no longer functioning well, we become susceptible to impulse actions.
Addiction causes changes that promoted impulsive behaviors. So, the addict desires to only live in the present moment with no regard for the future.
Impulse behavior is an immediate factor between ADHD and addictive disorders. According to one study, both impulsive acts and impulsive choices are observed in ADHD and addiction disorder. Experts believe that there’s a strong link between ADHD and addiction and that many individuals with ADHD often turn to alcohol and drugs.
Different studies have shown that people with ADHD have higher levels of impulsive and hyperactive behaviors. That’s why:
Again, those with ADHD usually turn to substances. While there isn’t a clear reason why that’s the case, experts believe that these patients have problems regulating neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and dopamine. But it could also be that they turn to alcohol or drugs as a way to cope with ADHD symptoms.
It is especially challenging for adults with undiagnosed or untreated ADHD. One expert matched the situation to playing with an invisible fire and wondering why the hands are burning.
Impulse behavior is a hallmark of BPD, a debilitating personality disorder that distorts a person’s self-perception. BPD patients are seen as highly dependent, manipulative, and dramatic. However, mental health experts say that these behaviors arise as a dysfunctional way to deal with emotional pain and overwhelming fear.
Patients with borderline personality disorder often suffer from insecurity, anxiety, and low self-esteem. They also have substance abuse issues. Alcohol, in particular, makes them comfortable when they are in the company of others.
Alcohol dependent individuals with BPD express a wide-range of impulsive behaviors. These include:
IED is an impulse-control disorder that’s characterized by the inability to resist impulses. This may lead to property destruction, serious assaults and frequent verbal aggression in the form of temper tantrums.
The condition results from a combination of environmental, biological, and genetic factors. Many IED patients grew up in families where verbal and physical abuse and explosive behaviors were common.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, IED starts in adolescence and affects someone throughout their lives. It’s one of the many impulse control disorders where a person is unable to control aggressive behaviors that violate other people’s rights.
An episode of intermittent explosive disorder could manifest as:
In addition to substance use treatment, a patient needs treatment for the specific impulsive behavior condition. One general approach is behavioral therapy, where one learns to work through and better handle situations that trigger impulsivity.
Healthcare providers may use several medications to treat impulse-related severe conditions. They recommend a dopamine agonist, opioid antagonists, mood stabilizers, and antidepressants for treatment. Antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors can also help treat IED and other impulse-control disorders. Methylphenidate or amphetamine and dextroamphetamine treat ADHD.
Family therapy is also an effective treatment for impulse behavior. This is especially true since the roots of severe impulsive behaviors may stem from the family environment. And in some cases, the impulsive behavior also hurts other members of the family. Family therapy can help address both of these issues.
Addiction can be both psychological and physical. Treating the physical aspect alone won’t address the psychological triggers that compel an individual to keep abusing substances. Addiction needs personalized treatments that address the symptoms, triggers, and consequences that drug abuse has on different areas of an individual’s life. That’s why many treatment facilities use various types of therapy as part of a holistic approach to tackle addiction and its related issues to reduce the risk of relapse.
Treatment for mental health and substance use disorders has come a long way. Numerous studies and clinical trials have shown the effectiveness of different therapy techniques in addressing a range of issues, including stress, depression, schizophrenia, substance abuse, and so on. As an example, behavioral therapy is known to enhance the physical and psychological well-being and prevent relapse of substance use, mental illness, or both in dual diagnosis patients.
Kicking the addiction habit is a lifelong process that needs consistent application of coping mechanisms. Addiction relapse rates, according to NIDA, are similar to those of chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes and asthma. So, the risk of relapse, irrespective of how long one has been clean, is high. This is why the importance of therapy in treating addiction can never be overemphasized.
Addiction is a huge problem today. In 2014, about 20.2 million adults aged 18 and over had substance use disorder in the past year. Of these adults, 6.2 million had illicit drug use disorder, while 16.3 million had alcohol use disorder. What starts as a fun activity can escalate into a full-blown addiction problem.
Addiction changes the way human brain works. It alters the reward center to the extent where one craves for the substance, losses control, and ends up using despite the adverse consequences. As we mentioned earlier, addiction is complex and involves more than the physical aspect. Treating physical manifestations and ignoring the emotional part is not enough.
Even after detoxification, one is still at high risk for relapse. Sudden life stress, environmental cues, social networks, among other factors, can contribute to relapse. Therapy helps one escape the cravings and learn to handle whatever it is that life throws their way without turning to drugs.
Therapy plays a vital role in a successful addiction recovery plan. Many alcohol or drug addiction programs understand this and include different types of therapy into their patient’s treatment plans. There are various forms of therapy, but according to the Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, behavioral therapies are the most effective in treating addiction.
Therapy is a linchpin of addiction treatment for many people. Family Counseling, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Contingency Management, and other forms of therapy can help a patient manage drug cravings and avoid relapse. It can also address mental health disorders that often contribute to substance use.
In one post, a TIME writer who almost lost his son to addiction said he sees hope in evidence-based treatments (EBTs) and treatment programs that emphasize research-based therapies like Motivational Interviewing and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in addition to medication.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse indicates that behavioral approaches help individuals in substance abuse treatment in vast ways. It engages them and offers incentives for them to maintain sobriety. It also modifies their behaviors and attitudes towards drug use and increases their life skills to tackle environmental cues and stressful situations that may trigger intense cravings for use.
With that in mind, let’s look at why therapy is essential in treating addiction:
One of the main reasons people don’t treat addiction is because they are skeptical about quitting. Some of them are in denial, while others feel fear or shame, and so on. Therapies, like motivational interviewing, help such people resolve insecurities and ambivalent feelings to find internal motivation they need to change their addictive behavior. This therapy allows one to recognize the impact of drug use in their lives and that of their loved ones, and nudge them to take a step toward recovery.
Many individuals who are dependent on drugs or alcohol feel as though they’re deep into it and cannot stop. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can come in handy in such cases, as it modifies the behaviors and attitudes behind people’s difficulties, and change the way they feel. CBT helps individuals to understand why they crave substance and arms them with tools to cope with the cravings and feelings. It’s effective in addressing vast issues, including mental illnesses and substance use disorders.
Patients experience many mixed emotions during detox. Talk therapy during detox helps them to change unhealthy responses and live life positively. Counseling supports patients during their journey from addiction to developing a healthy and productive life.
Addiction is a family disease. In most cases, the drug-dependent individual strains relationships because of their habits. But again, some people abuse drugs because of underlying family problems. Family Behavior Therapy (FBT) treats substance use disorders along with coexisting issues like depression and family conflict. It also educates family members about addiction issues and how to help their loved one through their journey to sobriety.
Group therapies, like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, are effective for drug and alcohol addiction. Being in a group setting allows individuals to get support from peers. It also is an excellent opportunity for one to see their problems in a new light and try out new ways of thinking in a safe environment without fear of judgment. Group therapies are not meant to be a substitute for professional help – but a complementary therapy.
Addiction is a complex disease. It is physical and psychological and may worsen depending on one’s emotional state, mental health, environment, and other aspects. Holistic approaches that include a simultaneous focus on mind and body for complete healing take care of the patient’s physical and psychological needs. So, in addition to detox, medical advice, and other forms of interventions, patients need therapy, meditation, massage, acupuncture, etc., to through to achieve life-long sobriety.
Addiction is sometimes referred to as a “family disease,” and rightfully so. It affects the patient and his or her entire family’s physical health, finances, and psychological well-being. At the same time, the family also has the power to make or break their loved one’s recovery efforts as he or she goes through the journey to sobriety. That’s why the importance of family therapy can never be overstated.
Family therapy is designed to address specific issues that affect the psychological health of the family, like substance abuse. It helps families work through challenges, struggles, and tough times in a manner that doesn’t just address the problem but leaves the family stronger.
Addiction takes a toll on everyone. It forces family members to pick up the slack of the addict, make excuses for his/her behavior, and potentially endure physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. Extended family members and friends may also have to chip in financially (or in other ways) to cushion the ignored responsibilities. Unfortunately, this naturally leads to instability and conflict within any given family, irrespective of how close-knit it used to be. In the long run, family members end up feeling disappointed and even frustrated with the behavior.
Therapy is a means to help cope with alcohol or drug addiction – and that’s not the same as making the problem disappear. Accepting the situation and letting go of things that are beyond control is part of family therapy. When families let go of expectations, they can heal and embrace their present reality while working to a better future. The opposite is also true.
This therapy recognizes that the addiction problem affects the entire family as opposed to just one person. It aims to empower families with skills to help adults and adolescents communicate through conflict and understand any substance abuse or co-occurring disorders like mental health disorder, family conflict and communication, learning disorders, peer networks, work or school issues, and so on. Family involvement is especially critical when the addict is an adolescent because he or she is still under parental care and is subject to the parent’s rules, control, and support.
Family therapy is based on the belief that every family member plays a part in the family system, and when one person is affected, the entire family takes the hit. Treating an individual alone is the same as addressing an illness’s symptoms without treating the disease itself. And although this approach is often used to help solve a person’s problem that’s impacting the entire family, it also applies in family-wide issues like conflicts between spouses, siblings, children, or parents. Family therapists can help loved ones to identify ways to manage conflicts, struggles, and challenges.
Family-based interventions are often provided in conjunction with behavioral interventions and medications. The adult or adolescent substance abuser may attend individual or group therapy sessions with their peers and family therapy.
Family therapy is offered in outpatient, intensive outpatient, and residential rehab programs. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse post, dubbed “Principles of Adolescent Substance Use Disorder Treatment: A Research-Based Guide,” here are some types of family-based approaches.
Family Behavioral Therapy is an evidence-based intervention that uses innovative, easy-to-learn, behavioral therapies to attain goal performance within a family context. It blends behavioral contracting and contingency management to address drug and alcohol abuse and other behavioral problems. FBT addresses vast areas, including family relationships, mental health, sobriety, and effective management of substances, sports performance, self-protection, employment, beautification, and home safety. Under this model, the patient and family member take part in treatment planning and select specific treatments from a list of evidence-based treatment options. FBT also rewards positive behavior during each session. And when behavioral goals are met, the therapist may use contingency management to reinforce the behavior.
MDFT protocols guide counselors in analyzing and intervening simultaneously in adolescents and their family’s life. Cognitive processes, emotions, and behavior are linked and are all addressed under this family-based treatment model. Teen problems like substance abuse and delinquency are multidimensional, and therefore require multifaceted therapist behaviors and remedies. As a multisystem model, therapists work separately with the teen, the family and other systems (juvenile justice systems or school), and then together to forge new relationships.
BSFT diagnoses and corrects patterns of family interactions connected to distressing symptoms and experiences in children ages 6-10. It attempts to shift family interactions from habitual to proactive or conflictive to collaborative, to allow the trapped love to thrive. BSFT is a short-term, problem-focused model with an emphasis on adjusting maladaptive interaction patterns. It includes 12-16 sessions that run over three months.
The overriding goal of MST is to keep adolescents who display serious clinical issues like violence, drug use, or severe criminal behavior in school, at home, or out of trouble. Through intense contact and involvement with family, this treatment model tries to get to the bottom of the adolescent’s behavioral issues. It works to change the patient’s ecology to enhance prosocial conduct while minimizing problems and delinquent behavior.
FFT is an empirically grounded family therapy for dysfunctional and at-risk adolescents ages 11-18 and their families. It’s a short-term (about 30 hours) program that helps the youth overcome conduct disorders, behavior problems, delinquency, and substance abuse. The counselor works with families to uncover family behaviors that contribute or lead to delinquent behavior. He or she then modifies the communication in the dysfunctional family, and trains members to set clear rules about responsibilities and privileges, negotiate effectively and generalize changes to community relationships and contexts
Family therapy in addiction treatment leverages the family’s strength and resources to find ways for the addict to live without drugs or alcohol and to improve the effect of dependency on both the patient and their family. It can help families uncover their own needs and help to keep addiction from moving from generation to generation.
The idea that some foods may have the potential of causing addiction and that some forms of overeating may indicate an addictive behavior has been discussed for years. There has been a growing interest and research on the subject, leading to more definitions and assessment methods. While the diagnosis of food addiction isn’t formally recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), some studies show that DSM-5 criteria for substance use disorder (SUD) might be transferable to food addiction. Food addiction involves cravings, binge eating behaviors, and a lack of control around food.
Experiments in humans and animals reveal that foods (especially those highly palatable) activate the same areas of the brain as addictive drugs like heroin and cocaine. Highly palatable foods are foods rich in salt, fat, and sugar. Like cocaine, marijuana, heroin, or even alcohol, these foods trigger dopamine, a feel-good chemical in the brain. Note this; the brain registers all pleasures in the same way – whether they come from a sexual encounter, monetary reward, psychoactive drug, or a palatable meal. In the brain, pleasure is linked to the production of dopamine. Food, like addictive drugs, provides a shortcut to the brain’s reward system by triggering dopamine production.
Researchers from Connecticut College discovered that Oreos, a tasty cookie, excited some neurons in the rats’ brains’ pleasure center even more powerfully than cocaine. Surprisingly, these rats quickly identified the tastiest, fattiest, and sweetest part of the snack – the middle. So, they would break and eat that part first. If this study’s findings are anything to go by, then high-sugar, high-fat foods and substance of abuse trigger brain process to the same extent.
Dopamine doesn’t just contribute to the pleasure experience; it also plays a part in memory and learning – both of which are critical in the transition from “liking” eating to becoming addicted to it. Dopamine interacts with glutamate, another neurotransmitter, to assume control of the brain’s system reward-related learning. Repeated exposure to palatable food causes the reward center to want it, driving the vulnerable person to go after it.
When the brain’s reward center keeps getting flooded with dopamine, it will, at some point, adapt to the trigger and eliminate the dopamine receptors. As a result, dopamine becomes less effective. So, the individual may realize that the food no longer gives them as much pleasure. They have to eat more to feel good because the brain is now tolerant. The pleasure linked to the food diminishes, but the memory of the pleasure and desire to remake it persists. So, compulsion takes over.
Does this mean that someone is a food addict if they have too many unhealthy foods like ice cream or burgers, or knowingly eat calorie-packed meals that are potentially harmful to their body and overall health? The short answer is annoying: “it depends.”
According to some scientists, too much fast food or junk food changes the brain’s wiring to an extent where one loses the ability to resist eating certain foods – despite the potential undesired effects. However, some experts question the validity of comparing any overeating habits with those of addiction to alcohol or drugs. They suggest that the uncontrolled or binge eating disorder may be connected to biological triggers that vary from one person to another. And that the intense cravings cannot be equated to those of someone struggling with substance abuse disorder.
The debate about whether food addiction is a real addiction lies in the term “addiction,” and the way one defines it. If an individual cannot control their urge to indulge in unhealthy food even when it is causing psychological or physical harm, then the phrase, “food addiction” matches the bill. The inability to stop doing something when you want to is the heart of addiction.
Although food addiction is often associated with obesity, it can take many forms. A food addict can be thin or normal, someone who overeats at regularly scheduled meals or grazes on snacks the entire day, etc. So, someone can have healthy body weight and still be addicted to food. It’s just that their bodies may be genetically programed to take care of the extra calories consumed. In some cases, they do lots of physical activity to compensate for overeating. Unfortunately, those addicted to food will keep on eating despite the adverse outcomes.
Researchers at Rudd Center for Food and Science & Policy at Yale University designed a questionnaire to identify patients with food addiction problems. The questions seek to find whether one:
Unlike drug or alcohol addiction, food addicts cannot abstain from eating. That’s why food is perhaps more insidious than drugs. Food addiction can be all-consuming and interfere with different aspects of a patient’s life. In addition to causing or worsening medical problems like heart disease, diabetes, malnutrition, or acid reflux, food addiction can also cause obesity and accelerate conditions like sleep disorders, obesity, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, arthritis, and osteoporosis. Not to mention psychological problems such as anxiety, stress, depression, and low self-esteem.
Although food addiction may not be a recognized diagnosis or treatment, advances in the medicinal world make it possible to manage and resolve it. A medical expert may recommend one or more of the following treatments after conducting a medical review:
Addiction treatment is usually personalized and needs individual, family and community support.
The internet has changed the way we do things, including addressing addiction problems. Today, people turn to the internet for all kinds of addiction-related issues, whether it’s to self-diagnose, find professional help, or to browse through endless online addiction resources to gain more insights about what they are dealing with. And in the face of the social distancing measures needed in the coronavirus pandemic, many in-person rehabilitations are becoming online out of necessity.
Currently, enrolling in a telnet drug rehab may no longer be an option but a necessity for many patients. Countries across the globe are moving fast against COVID-19 to avoid disaster. Most of them have canceled international flights, closed borders, banned all social gatherings, and enforced lockdowns to flatten the curve. So, it might be impossible to travel from one city or state to another to access a physical rehab center. The social distancing guideline also means that patients can no longer access Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings, pushing them to switch to digital technologies like Skype or Zoom for continued support.
If you are planning to start your journey to sobriety during the crisis (or even afterward), you are probably wondering about whether remote alcohol or drug rehab works. In this article, we will dive deeper into what remote drug rehabs do, and why they are the best option for many individuals. But before we do that, let’s address your concerns about whether a remote drug rehab can help with your addiction problem.
As substance abuse continues to challenge traditional treatment programs, activists and advocates are exploring ways to reach patients who might not respond adequately to standard models. Most of them incline towards remote treatments, which are outpatient programs designed to address an individual’s specific needs using digital technologies. Remote substance abuse treatment is perhaps the most advanced way to reach patients who live on the margins (or those who cannot access treatment due to COVID-19 pandemic and government restrictions).
A group of researchers performed a systemic survey on interventions delivering substance use disorders (SUD) treatment by video calling that looked at clinical effects of drug abuse, treatment retention, and feasibility, and acceptability. Interventions were divided according to substances, including opioids and alcohol. Most of the reviews suggest that remote treatment could be associated with enhanced treatment retention than traditional treatment that involves travel. These researchers concluded that telnet rehabs are a promising alternative, particularly when evidence-based treatment isn’t readily available.
For specific substance use and treatment categories, especially when treatment retention is a significant outcome, it’s also possible that telnet care could lead to higher treatment retention because of increased accessibility for patients.
In another systemic review of 20+ articles performed in the US, Australia, and the European Union, remote rehabilitation lowered alcohol consumption to a great extent. It also had incredible outcomes reducing depression, increasing accessibility, increasing patient satisfaction, reducing cost, and enhancing the quality of life.
Although traditional treatment is still an essential component of addiction treatments, it is certainly not the be-all-end-all. Many caregivers attest that in-person care makes patients dependent on them when what they need is to face their addiction recovery process with brevity. Besides, we live in an on-demand world. Unlike years back, when people had to wait for days or weeks to get appointments and even enroll in their rehab of choice, they are now leaning towards immediate care. People want what they want when they want, and that’s where online rehabs come handy. Here’s why more patients are embracing remote treatments:
One of the primary duties of substance abuse treatment centers is to educate their patients. The internet offers an excellent opportunity for these facilities to provide vast resources through videos, audios, articles, blog posts, whitepapers, e-books, and so on. So patients can access these educative materials irrespective of their location or circumstances.
Online rehab is especially valuable in the remote areas – where people might not have access to any other form of alcohol or drug addiction treatment programs because of limited or no treatment facilities in their geographic area. Having to travel long distances and spare hours out of a busy schedule to get help can be a burden on many patients. But with a steady internet connection, and an internet-powered device, remote rehab provides quick and easy access to care that wouldn’t otherwise be available.
The fact that one can access addiction treatment in the comfort of their own home (or place of choice) makes digital learning an appealing option. This learning model allows patients to schedule their rehab sessions at the most convenient time – whether it’s early in the morning or late at night.
Not every person who is struggling with addiction wants others to know that they are getting professional help. And while traditional rehab systems go to a greater extent to ensure privacy, one can’t hide the fact that they are getting help from their loved ones. Telnet rehabs give patients the discretion they need throughout their recovery journey.
One of the main benefits of online rehab is affordability. The boarding costs and the traveling costs associated with traditional rehab make it less appealing for many patients who don’t have financial resources at their disposal. Online programs offer quality solutions at a fraction of the cost, making it an excellent option for many patients. Most health insurance plans will also cover remote treatment options.
The internet makes mental health treatment more accessible. Rehabilitation centers are always up and running 24/7, and have on-call professionals who can be accessed on an immediate basis (though this might vary from one facility to the next). Most centers provide a “please call” number that patients can dial, should there be an emergency.
Remote treatments allow patients with substance use disorder to stay in treatment and get remote drug counseling to help in their journey. Through reduced travel time, enhanced convenience, and cost-saving, telnet rehab provides additional benefits for physicians, patients, and the greater healthcare system.
Several studies have shown a strong correlation between substance abuse and mental illness. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, many people with mental health conditions develop substance use disorders (SUD), and vice versa. The incidences tend to co-occur (also called comorbidity or dual diagnosis) more often than what could be attributed to chance.
While mental health issues don’t cause drug addiction or vice versa; they can exacerbate the symptoms. It is not uncommon for individuals to self-medicate a mental illness with alcohol or drugs. Conversely, alcohol and drugs can lead to psychological issues like paranoia, delusions, anxiety, and depression or worsen existing psychiatric conditions. So, individuals diagnosed with anxiety or mood disorders are highly likely to suffer from drug abuse disorder compared with respondents in general. The same holds for those diagnosed with drug disorders as they are likely to suffer from mental disorders like anxiety or mood disorders, etc.
Please don’t take our word for it
A past NIH study showed that certain protective factors don’t exist among those with severe mental illness. Individuals with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, for instance, have a higher risk for drug use. Multiple national population surveys suggest that about 50% of those who experience substance use disorder will also experience mental illness at some point in their lives, and vice versa.
Other reports not only support that these two disorders are connected, but also emphasize that drug use in itself is a mental illness. This is because drug use changes the brain in ways that affect the person’s hierarchy of desires and needs. The resulting compulsive behavior that overpowers one’s ability to control impulses despite the negative outcome is similar to other mental illnesses.
With that in mind, let’s now look at types of mental disorders that increase drug use.
Anxiety disorder is one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States, affecting 40 million (or 18.1%) adults age 18 and over annually. But anxiety doesn’t affect adults alone. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), these disorders affect 25.1% of children aged 13-18. When the anxiety goes untreated, these children may perform poorly, become distant socially, and abuse substances.
Comorbidity is common with substance abuse and anxiety. About 20% of individuals with mood disorders or anxiety have substance use problems. The same number of people with drug problems suffer from anxiety and mood disorders. A mental health professional told ADAA that anxiety disorder often travels in the company of drug or alcohol abuse, as those with a social anxiety disorder might abuse substances to feel comfortable and less restricted in social settings. But it robs them of knowing when to stop or accepting that they have an underlying problem that needs therapy and treatment and not substance to overcome the fear. Eventually, the drugs that serve as temporary solace (whether illicit drugs, prescription drugs, or simply stimulants) can also trigger anxiety.
Individuals with bipolar disorder experience radical mood swings that can last for days or weeks in a row. Depending on the severity, these episodes may occur as little as a few times in a year or as often as several times in a week. In one study of people with bipolar disorders, about 60% had some history of substance misuse. And while it’s not clear why this disorder makes people more prone to alcohol and drug abuse, different studies try to connect the dots.
Some experts believe that inherited traits play a role in linking bipolar disorder to alcoholism or drug abuse. In a Mayo Clinic post, one doctor suggests that the genetic differences affect brain chemistry linked to bipolar disorder. He further noted that the same traits might also influence how the brain responds to drugs and alcohol, exacerbating the risk of substance use disorders. But there’s also the aspect of mania – where the upswing from depression lowers judgment, leading to increased substance abuse.
Other experts suggest that addiction arises when the patient uses drugs or alcohol to ease anxiety, depression, and other bipolar-related symptoms. As discussed above, abusing substances in the name of relieving the symptoms only worsens the situation. Frequent drug use can change the brain’s reward system. Over time, this mind-altering changes lead to compulsive drug-seeking behavior. Drug use can also cause brain changes that lead to bipolar disorder.
Depression is another mental disorder that frequently co-occurs with drug use. Like other mental illnesses, the relationship between drug use and depression disorders is bi-directional. Depressed individuals may abuse substances to uplift their mood or escape from feelings of despair or guilt. However, substances like alcohol (which is a depressant) can increase the feelings of fatigue, lethargy, hopelessness, or sadness. On the other hand, people can feel depressed once the effects of alcohol or drugs wear off, or when they struggle to deal with the way addiction has affected their lives.
Depression is like a gateway to substance abuse. Approximately one-third of those with major depression go on to have alcoholism problems. People struggling with depression often have a hard time giving up drugs or alcohol because it can worsen depression. Some who quit cold turkey are bombarded with withdrawal symptoms that are difficult to bear, causing them to relapse.
Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness in which people interpret reality abnormally. This brain disorder makes it hard for people to distinguish the imaginary from reality, affecting about 1% of all Americans, approximately two million adults. Patients often are unable to respond to different social situations in an appropriate emotional way. This leads to strained relationships with family and friends.
An estimated 50% of those suffering from the condition have a history of substance misuse. Often, these people engage in alcohol or drug abuse to self-medicate or relieve feelings of depression and anxiety. Drug and alcohol are environmental triggers for schizophrenia. A person with existing genetic risk factors for the condition can activate it after prolonged substance abuse. Using illicit drugs like cocaine, amphetamines, or marijuana heightens schizophrenia symptoms or make them worse.
Schizophrenia and substance abuse disorders have similar symptoms, which explain why people often confuse one for the other. Unfortunately, this only makes it even harder to diagnose the condition or co-occurring illnesses.
It suffices to say that mental disorders and drug use are two sides of the same coin – you cannot address one and ignore the other and expect a successful outcome. That’s why dual diagnosis patients enroll in integrated treatment programs that address both problems simultaneously. Otherwise, untreated mental disorder symptoms can cause the patient to be unable to remain sober and clean. Untreated drug use, on the other hand, can make mental disorder treatment ineffective.