What is Addiction?The recreational use of alcohol or drugs can sometimes become so compulsive for a user that it causes physical changes to the body and brain. When people are addicted to a substance, they may want to stop using because of the harmful effects but are unable to do so on their own. Addiction recovery involves medical and psychological help to break free from an addiction. There are generally three broad steps or phases of addiction recovery. First, detoxification removes the harmful substance from the body. This step can be difficult physically, depending on the substance and level of addiction, and in some cases it can even be life-threatening. Medical care and support are important to help patients through the uncomfortable side effects of detox. The second step is treatment, which may involve several different kinds of psychotherapy and counseling, medication, or both. The most commonly used forms of therapy are cognitive-behavioral therapy, family therapy, group therapy, and motivational interview therapy. Goals of treatment generally include developing coping skills outside of substance use, identifying what caused the substance abuse in the first place, and repairing relationships. Medications such as methadone, naltrexone, or nicotine replacement help to relieve cravings and curb the physical effects of withdrawal. The final phase of addiction recovery is maintenance or relapse prevention. Addiction is a chronic disease and treatment will be long-term. So while care at this stage may not be as frequent or intense as during the first two stages, in order to be successful, it needs to be in place. Addiction is a very difficult disease that takes a huge toll on patients and their loved ones. Treating addiction can be challenging but also incredibly rewarding. Addiction specialists provide hope to those caught in a cycle they cannot escape without help.
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