Drug addiction is a complex, and often chronic, brain disease. It is characterized by drug craving, seeking, and use that can persist even in the face of devastating life consequences. Addiction results largely from brain changes that stem from prolonged drug use–changes that involve multiple brain circuits, including those responsible for governing self-control and other behaviors. Drug addiction is treatable, often with medications (for some addictions) combined with behavioral therapies. However, relapse is common and can happen even after long periods of abstinence, underscoring the need for long-term support and care. Relapse does not signify treatment failure, but rather should prompt treatment re-engagement or modification.
There is no easy answer to this common question. If and how quickly you become addicted to a drug depends on many factors, including your biology (your genes, for example), age, gender, environment, and interactions among these factors. Vast differences characterize individual sensitivity to various drugs and to addiction vulnerability. While one person may use a drug one or many times and suffer no ill effects, another person may overdose with first use, or become addicted after a few uses. There is no way of knowing in advance how quickly you will become addicted—but there are some clues, one important one being whether you have a family history of addiction.
The physical signs of abuse or addiction can vary depending on the person and the drug being abused. For example, someone who abuses marijuana may have a chronic cough or worsening of asthmatic symptoms. Each drug has short-term and long-term physical effects. Stimulants like cocaine increase heart rate and blood pressure, whereas opioids like heroin may slow the heart rate and reduce respiration.
The following are common symptoms of addiction:
- The need to continue or increase use of the substance in order to achieve the desired effect.
- Experiencing withdrawal when you don’t get the substance often enough.
- Focusing your social life or work life around using the substance.
- Extreme mood changes: finding yourself experiencing extreme happiness, sadness or anxiety.
- Sleeping noticeably more or less than usual – usually at abnormal times of the day or night.
- Experiencing changes in your energy level.
- Extreme weight loss or gain.
- You find yourself lying to cover up your substance use.
- You find yourself stealing the substance to use, or money to buy the substance.
- General demeanor of secretiveness, being careful about what you say to friends or family.
Family involvement is crucial for the recovery process. Most treatment facilities have a set period of time for the family to come visit and take part in workshops or lectures. Many times, addiction stems from issues within the family, so it’s essential to understand family dynamics and provide a space for the family to communicate and heal. Not only does this heal the patient, but it brings freedom and peace for the rest of the family.
If a person is compulsively seeking and using a drug(s) despite negative consequences, such as loss of job, debt, family problems, or physical problems brought on by drug abuse, then he or she probably is addicted. And while people who are addicted may believe they can stop any time, most often they cannot, and will need professional help—first to determine if they in fact are addicted, and then to obtain drug abuse treatment. Support from friends and family can be critical in getting people into treatment and helping them to maintain abstinence following treatment.
Drug addiction can be effectively treated with behavioral therapies and, for addiction to some drugs such as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol, medications. Treatment will vary for each person depending on the type of drug(s) being used. Multiple courses of treatment may be needed to achieve success.
Detoxification is the process of allowing the body to rid itself of a drug while managing the symptoms of withdrawal. It is often the first step in a drug treatment program and should be followed by treatment with a behavioral-based therapy and/or a medication, if available. Detox alone with no follow-up is not treatment.
Withdrawal describes the various symptoms that occur after long-term use of a drug is reduced or stopped abruptly. Length of withdrawal and symptoms vary with the type of drug. For example, physical symptoms of heroin withdrawal may include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, and cold flashes. These physical symptoms may last for several days, but the general depression, or dysphoria (opposite of euphoria), that often accompanies heroin withdrawal may last for weeks. In many cases, withdrawal can be easily treated with medications to ease the symptoms, but treating withdrawal is not the same as treating addiction.
There isn’t a set period of time that applies to everyone when it comes to rehabilitation. Our residential program is typically 28 days, but some individuals may need a 90-day stay at an inpatient treatment facility to develop and maintain a steady recovery path. The optimal length of treatment can vary according to:
- The addiction in question.
- The individual’s history with addiction.
- The severity of the addiction.
- Co-existing medical and mental health conditions (dual diagnosis).
- Each individual’s physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual needs.
Studies find that those who spend longer amounts of time in a treatment program achieve better success rates of long-term sobriety.
This is because more time spent at a treatment facility means more opportunity to focus on the root causes and behaviors behind the addiction. If these issues are effectively addressed, individuals are more likely to be able to resist temptations to relapse.
Regardless of its duration, drug and alcohol addiction treatment doesn’t conclude after the patient exits the treatment program. Addiction to a drug is not something that can just be “cured.” Recovery from substance abuse and addiction is an ongoing, lifelong process. The “cure” to addiction is the ongoing decision to say “no” in the face of substance temptation – an abstinence practice that requires a lot of hard work and dedication.
Addiction rehabilitation programs can range in price dramatically. 28-day inpatient programs can be priced anywhere from $12,000 to $50,000, depending on a variety of facility factors. Treatment is covered by most health insurance plans and payment plans are available for any out of pocket expenses. Serenity Lane works with each individual in finding ways to make treatment affordable for them.
Inpatient facilities tend to cost more than outpatient therapies because the patient is provided with therapy, meals, lodging and activities.
Outpatient Treatment is less expensive – ranging from $4,500 and up. Again, treatment is covered by most health insurance plans and Serenity Lane will work with you to find an affordable solution.
Many people who come to Serenity Lane seeking treatment for their drug or alcohol addiction may also struggle with mental health issues such as depression, eating disorders, grief, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder. This combination of addiction along with a mental health issue is called “co-occurring disorders” and, in fact, is quite common. Serenity Lane has medical staff, psychiatrists, mental health professionals and counselors on site who are skilled at addressing the complexity of issues around co-occurring disorders alongside the addiction to drugs and alcohol. A comprehensive clinical and mental health evaluation is required in order to correctly diagnose the appropriate level of care.