Substance abuse is a serious issue that millions of Americans face. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported that in 2017 approximately 20.5 million United States residents, 12 years of age and older, experienced a disorder involving substance abuse. However, only four million of these people, or 19 percent, sought treatment for their disorder. 

Unfortunately, the majority of people who need treatment do not believe that it is necessary. The most recent NSDUH report states that of the 18 million people who needed treatment but did not seek counseling, only one million people (5.7 percent) thought that they would actually benefit from treatment. However, programs such as rehab can be extremely effective for people who suffer from drug addiction and other substance abuse disorders. 

What are the signs of substance abuse?

Before learning about treatment options, it is helpful to understand what drug addictions and substance abuse disorders look like. Substance abuse is a disorder that affects not just a person’s behaviors but also their brain chemistry. This eventually leads to the inability to avoid drugs or alcohol despite the health risks of overuse. 

It is important to keep in mind that both legal and illegal drugs can be misused. For example, many legal opioids have addictive properties when overused, which can quickly lead to a substance abuse disorder. When it comes to illegal drugs, addictions present not only a health risk but a legal risk as well.  

A drug addiction is sometimes easy to identify either in yourself or a loved one, but the symptoms are not always easy to notice. Symptoms can also vary based on age and other individual factors. Signs and behaviors that may indicate an addiction include the following: 

  • Feeling the need to use drugs regularly and finding it hard to think about anything other than drug use
  • Needing a higher dose of drugs over time in order to get the same effect
  • Using drugs even though they cause issues with life, school, work or health
  • Finding it difficult or impossible to stop using drugs or experiencing withdrawal symptoms after trying to quit
  • Continuing to use drugs regardless of the cost, even if it becomes an unaffordable activity

The exact symptoms of drug use will vary depending on the type of drug taken. For example, hallucinogens, opioids, stimulants, barbiturates and other classifications of drugs will all have a different effect on a person’s mental or physical state as well as their behavior. 

How are drug addictions treated?

Going to rehab for a substance abuse condition is an effective way of treating an addiction. However, addictions are complex and require a multi-faceted approach. For treatment to be successful, it must help a person stop using addictive substances and remain sober while also contributing to one’s home and work life. 

Treating a drug addiction may be complicated, but it is important to be aware that treatment is possible. Because drugs and alcohol can affect the parts of the brain responsible for motivation, rewards, memory, learning and behavior control, it is crucial that people with addictions stay in treatment long enough to experience a real change in behavior and brain function.  

It is also important to be aware that different treatments will work better for some people than others. There is no single method that is effective for everyone. Different types of therapies can also be combined for a better result. Treatment plans can include a wide range of therapies, such as the following: 

  • Counseling that addresses behaviors and beliefs that lead to addiction
  • Medications that can help drug users transition away from addictive substances
  • Mental health counseling, which can address issues such as depression or anxiety that often occur with substance abuse disorders
  • Monitoring conditions and providing follow-up appointments to prevent the chance of relapse

What is rehab?

Rehabilitative therapy is just one approach for treating a drug addiction. The exact components of rehab may vary by program, but overall, the goal of this therapy is to do the following: 

  • Remove the presence of drugs or alcohol, which often includes detoxification
  • Change the behaviors that lead to a dependence on addictive substances
  • Learn new coping techniques that do not involve drugs or alcohol

It is important to be aware that the term “rehab” is used in a very general sense to describe a wide range of intensive, supervised programs that address the root cause of substance abuse. Techniques used in rehab programs can include outpatient services, clinical visits, inpatient treatment, group therapy and individual counseling, to name a few. 

Is rehab right for you?

It can oftentimes be extremely hard to gauge how serious a condition is on your own. Therefore, talking to a doctor or a substance abuse professional is the best way to determine if rehab is a good option for treating your drug addiction. The following types of professionals can help you determine the best type of treatment or at least refer you to another specialist for the help you need: 

  • Medical doctors
  • Licensed psychologists 
  • Licensed clinical social workers 
  • Mental health counselors 
  • Licensed addiction counselors 

In order to get the most accurate advice, it is important to get an opinion from someone with the right credentials. Professionals who are not trained in recognizing the symptoms of drug abuse may not be qualified to provide an accurate assessment. 

In determining whether rehab is the right treatment option for you, make sure you consider other factors as well. For example, you will want to think about the expense of a program as well as your insurance coverage and your ability to make it to the treatment location. 

Because drug addiction is a complex issue, you must be willing to put in the time required for successful treatment. Most rehab programs take at least one month to complete, but some may require a commitment of up to 90 days or more. However, keep in mind that the reason treatments take this long is because they work. There is no quick-fix solution to treating drug addiction whether you choose rehab or an alternative type of therapy. 

Learn How to Find Rehab and Other Treatment Programs 

There are numerous rehab clinics and other treatment programs that you may use. It is important to research different options and choose the one that fits your needs best, as they are not all the same. For more immediate help, you may also consider calling a national hotline for substance abuse, which can provide information on resources that you need right away. Examples of organizations that provide a hotline include: 

  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
  • The National Drug Helpline
  • Addiction Resource 

Always remember that in an emergency situation, you should never hesitate to seek immediate medical attention.