Substance use problems are treatable. Treatment may take a few weeks or months and may involve relapses, but for many, treatment is successful in the long term.
There are various treatment options available. A treatment plan will depend on a person's needs and will take into consideration such things as the severity of the problem, the person's support network, and the person's desire or motivation to enter treatment. The treatment plan may need to be altered as the needs of the person change. Treatment may include support groups, withdrawal or detoxification, counselling, or harm reduction for those who may not be ready to completely quit using substances that are causing problems.
Medications may also be used as part of a treatment plan. People with alcohol use problems can be given naltrexone*, a medication that helps to reduce cravings for alcohol; or acamprosate, a medication used to rebalance certain brain chemicals in people with substance use problems.
In some cases, other medications are used to treat withdrawal symptoms. During withdrawal of some substances, the person is gradually weaned off the substance by being given smaller and smaller doses. They may also be given less harmful substances instead of the ones they're dependent on. For example, people dependent on heroin are often given methadone. Methadone isn't as harmful to the brain as heroin or other narcotics.
Treatment plans almost always involve counselling. Counselling helps the person understand their substance use problem and helps them develop effective coping skills.
There are many types of treatment services, and availability may vary depending on where a person lives. Some programs are based in the community, and the person lives at home and comes to a treatment centre on a daily or regular basis. Other programs involve staying at a treatment facility for a certain period of time. The types of services and treatment approaches can vary between programs and centres, and a person with a substance use problem should be comfortable with the approach a program or centre uses.
During recovery, many people will have relapses along the way. These relapses should be viewed as temporary setbacks that can be a source of learning (e.g., what triggered the relapse and how to develop strategies that might help deal with this trigger in the future). Overcoming each relapse will bring the person closer to recovery. Recovery can be a long process for some people, but it is possible.
Many prevention programs (e.g., for schools, families, and the media) have proven to help prevent substance use problems. Helping youths to understand the risks of substance use problems reduces substance use. Fostering and modelling open and respectful communication within families helps to reduce the risk of developing substance use problems. Talk to your family about alcohol and other drugs. If you are not sure how to talk about alcohol and drug use, contact your doctor or community health centre for information and resources.
*All medications have both common (generic) and brand names. The brand name is what a specific manufacturer calls the product (e.g., Tylenol®). The common name is the medical name for the medication (e.g., acetaminophen). A medication may have many brand names, but only one common name. This article lists medications by their common names. For information on a given medication, check our Drug Information database. For more information on brand names, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2017. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/condition/getcondition/Substance-Use-Problems