People of all ages suffer the harmful consequences of drug abuse and addiction. Illicit drug use in the United States in 2010 was at its highest level since 2002, according to the most recent report from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (2010). The demographic characteristics of drug abusers have changed, from street drugs to prescription drug abuse, which is another rising epidemic in this country. According to the results from the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an estimated 2.4 million Americans abused prescription medication for non-medical reasons, within the past year. More than one-half were females and about a third was aged 12 to 17. Roughly 1 in 9 youth abused prescription drugs in the past year (NIDA, 2010). Persons aged 65 years and older account for more than one-third of total outpatient spending on prescription medications in the United States (NIDA, 2009).Older patients are more likely to be prescribed long-term and multiple prescriptions, including highly addictive benzodiazepines, opioids.
We are seeing young adults in their middle 20s and 30s, who are abusing stimulants to improve school and work performance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports (2012) that overdose deaths from prescription opioids now exceeds deaths from illegal drugs for all age groups. People of all ethnic groups, low and high SES levels, professional athletes, health care providers, blue color workers, employed or unemployed individuals, represent the population struggling with chemical dependency.
Health care professionals offer pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments to substance abusers in a variety of settings, in hospitals, in sub-acute residential treatments and in outpatient treatment centers. Medical detoxification is an important first step in the treatment of certain addictions, specially, dependency on alcohol, barbiturates, and benzodiazepines. However, a medical detox by itself does little to change long-term drug use. The chronic nature of addiction means that relapsing to drug abuse is not only possible, but likely to occur. Drug abuse is similar to what happens with other chronic medical illnesses-such as diabetes, hypertension, and asthma (NIDA, 2009). Drug abuse has physical, socio-economic, genetic, familial and behavioral components. An addiction, like many chronic illnesses, requires continual evaluation and treatment modification if necessary (NIDA, 2009). The outpatient clinics play an important role in providing a continuing care approach, educating patients and families on relapse prevention strategies, providing a support, connecting patients and families with community resources for maintaining a recovery.
The professional literature reports that no single treatment for addiction is right for everyone. The best treatment addresses a person’s various needs, not just his or her drug abuse. There are various medical detox protocols that are being used for opioid, alcohol, benzodiazepines or stimulants withdrawals. These pharmacological treatments counter the effects of the drug on the brain and behavior, and can be used to relieve withdrawal symptoms, help overcome drug cravings, or treat an overdose (NIDA, 2009). Behavioral treatments help patients stop drug use by teaching them strategies to function without drugs, deal with cravings, avoid drugs and situations that could lead to drug use, and handle a relapse should it occur (NIDA, 2009). The behavioral treatments include individual counseling, group or family counseling, motivational therapies, contingency management, cognitive-behavioral therapies, 12 step support groups, also can help patients improve their personal relationships and their ability to function at work and in the community.
Health care providers can educate patients and families about protective factors for maintaining sobriety, and succeeding in recovery. The literature review showed several components of comprehensive drug abuse treatment that found to be helpful in recovery. Some of the components included – 1) on-going assessment; 2) cognitive-behavioral therapies; 3) medical and pharmacological management and treatment of co-morbid psychiatric conditions; 4) education, self-help recourses, 12 step support groups, family therapies, parenting support, job training, and social and legal services. The latest research tells us that most people struggling with various addictions need at least 3 months in treatment to reduce or stop their drug use. The longer the duration of the treatments, the better the outcomes.
At our treatment center, we address the person’s motivation to change, help clients to rebuild their skills to resist drug use. We also help clients to improve their problem solving strategies, build better personal relationships with their loved ones, and we adapt treatments to a person’s changing needs.
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