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Nearly all addicted individuals believe at the outset that they can stop using drugs on their own, and most try to stop without treatment. Although some people are successful, many attempts result in failure to achieve long-term abstinence.

Psychological stress from work, family problems, pain associated with medical problems, social cues can trigger intense cravings without the individual even being consciously aware of the triggering event. Any one of these factors can hinder attainment of sustained abstinence and make relapse more likely. Nevertheless, research indicates that active participation in treatment is an essential component for good outcomes and can benefit even the most severely addicted individuals.

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. While one person may use a drug one or many times and suffer no ill effects, another person may overdose with the 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—an important one being whether you have a family history of addiction.

The signs of drug use and addiction can vary depending on the person and the drug, but some common signs are:
  • Impaired speech and motor coordination
  • Bloodshot eyes or pupils that are larger or smaller than usual
  • Changes in physical appearance or personal hygiene
  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns
  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain
  • Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing
  • Changes in mood or disinterest in engaging in relationships or activities

Drug addiction can be effectively treated with behavioral therapies and—for addiction to some drugs such as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol—with medications. Treatment will vary for each person depending on the type of drug(s) being used. Some might need multiple courses of treatment to achieve success.

Withdrawal describes the various symptoms that occur after a person abruptly reduces or stops long-term use of a drug. 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 treated with medications to ease the symptoms, but treating withdrawal is not the same as treating addiction.

Relapse is a part of the journey, and it’s very common. And it is something we take seriously. The same therapist, nor the same rehab can be one-size-fits-all. Every rehab is different and it can take some time before you find your right fit. But rest assured you will find it which not only helps you recover from your addiction but also prevent relapse. Such an anticipated fear of failure should not hold you back from seeking the help you need and taking another chance.

The right time to speak to the person addicted to alcohol/drugs is not when the person is intoxicated as he/she is not receptive to anything. The right time is the next morning when the person is awake and before he/she intoxicates himself/herself. Then it can be suggested that there is help available to enable him/her to go beyond his/her addictions. It is first advisable for the family to consult a counsellor, expert in the field who will guide how and what needs to be spoken to the afflicted person.

Individuals progress through drug addiction treatment at various rates, so there is no predetermined length of treatment. However, research has shown unequivocally that good outcomes are contingent on adequate treatment length. Generally, for residential or outpatient treatment, participation for less than 90 days is of limited effectiveness, and treatment lasting significantly longer is recommended for maintaining positive outcomes. Like for meth maintenance, 12 months is considered the minimum, and some opioid-addicted individuals continue to benefit from methadone maintenance for many years.

Because successful outcomes often depend on a person’s staying in treatment long enough to reap its full benefits, strategies for keeping people in treatment are critical. Whether a patient stays in treatment depends on factors associated with both the individual and the program. Individual factors related to engagement and retention typically include motivation to change drug-using behavior; degree of support from family and friends, employers, or family. Within a treatment program, successful clinicians can establish a positive, therapeutic relationship with their patients. The clinician should ensure that a treatment plan is developed cooperatively with the person seeking treatment, that the plan is followed, and that treatment expectations are clearly understood. Medical, psychiatric, and social services should also be available.

Because some problems (such as serious medical or mental illness or criminal involvement) increase the likelihood of patients dropping out of treatment, intensive interventions may be required to retain them. After a course of intensive treatment, the provider should ensure a transition to less intensive continuing care to support and monitor individuals in their ongoing recovery.

Family and friends can play critical roles in motivating individuals with drug problems to enter and stay in treatment. Family therapy can also be important, especially for adolescents. Involvement of a family member or significant other in an individual's treatment program can strengthen and extend treatment benefits.

This program can complement and extend the effects of professional treatment. Most drug addiction treatment programs encourage patients to participate in group therapy during and after formal treatment. These groups can be particularly helpful during recovery, offering an added layer of community-level social support to help people achieve and maintain abstinence and other healthy lifestyle behaviors over the course of a lifetime.