November 1, 2014
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Addiction

 Health Home >> Addiction >> Managing addiction 


Addiction recovery

Addictions are complex, often chronic, conditions involving physical, emotional, and social problems. And although there is no quick fix or magic bullet to overcoming an addiction, they are treatable. The best treatment plan for will depend on a number of factors including your physical and mental health, the severity of your addiction, and the type of addiction you have.

Although some people manage to quit on their own, quitting alone can be tough and the success rate for each attempt to quit is relatively low. With some help, much higher rates of successful recovery may be attained. Since there are a wide variety of methods, and one size does not fit all, it helps to get some professional help in the form of an assessment to determine what would work best for you.

Treatment options

A good recovery program often combines medical interventions, medications, counselling and education, while establishing a network of social support and recovery activities.

Most addiction recovery programs are provided on an out-patient basis. This means that you will continue to live your life at home and go to a clinic or doctor for monitoring, counseling, and support. For some people and some types of addiction, in-patient or residential treatment programs may be recommended. With in-patient programs, you will live at the clinic or treatment facility during your treatment.

Counselling and support groups
Counselling and support groups are an integral part of any addiction recovery. Counselling, either individually or in a group setting, will help you understand your addiction and help you to develop coping strategies to deal with cravings and with relapse if it occurs. Support groups offer a place for you to share your experiences, hear the experiences of others, and share coping strategies.

Medical management
If you are addicted to a drug, you might undergo detoxification to stop the substance as quickly as possible. Or, your doctor may gradually reduce the dose of the substance you are using or substitute other medications (e.g., methadone, buprenorphine) for the substance.

If you are addicted to a drug or substance, do not stop taking it suddenly without talking to your doctor. Severe withdrawal symptoms can occur when certain drugs are stopped suddenly. You and your doctor will determine the best treatment plan for you. If you do undergo detoxification, this is only the start of your treatment and you will need to learn new behaviours and skills to stay drug-free.

Various medications can be used to help manage certain addictions (e.g., diazepam, clonidine, naltrexone, nicotine replacement, bupropion, varenicline). For more information, see "Addiction: medications used for treatment."

If you have other mental health issues, you will also be treated for these conditions during treatment. For example, you may be treated for depression or anxiety with medications and counselling.

Alternative treatments
Alternative treatments such as acupuncture, laser, and religious and conversion reactions, have not been proven to help with addictions. Talk to your doctor before trying alternative therapies.

A final note about recovery from addictions

Not all treatments will work for everyone. Work closely with your doctor to determine what methods of treatment are best suited to you. Recovery can take a long time. Most people, however, are able to stop or at least reduce the use of the substance or activity with treatment. Treatment periods greater than 3 months seem to be the most successful. For some people, chronic treatment may be needed to prevent relapse.

 
Written and reviewed by the MediResource Clinical Team 

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