Drug addiction (also called substance use disorder) is treatable. However, as with many other diseases, it takes a lot of hard work to overcome. If you or someone you love is struggling to stay drug-free, try these five tips.
1. Build A Support System
When you live with drug addiction, it’s normal to feel alone. You might think no one understands what you’re going through. You may also self-isolate to avoid judgment and shame. Unfortunately, isolation makes the recovery process more difficult. That’s why you can check out some peer support groups.
Popular options include Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, LifeRing, and SMART Recovery. In these groups, you can share your struggles with other people recovering from drug addiction. You’ll also learn coping tips to fight cravings and boost your overall well-being.
Along with attending support groups, you can reach out to friends and family members who understand your decision to get sober. They can offer comfort and help you process difficult emotions.
In addition, if you feel like you’re about to relapse (start using drugs again), they can remind you why you stopped using drugs in the first place.
2. Manage Withdrawal Symptoms
If you’re addicted to a drug, you’re probably physically dependent on it. That means your body can’t function properly without the drug. If you stop taking it, you may experience withdrawal symptoms.
Symptoms vary depending on the drug and your body, but the most common ones include anxiety, nausea, and trouble sleeping. These symptoms cause many people to relapse.
You face a higher risk of withdrawal if you quit drugs suddenly (or “cold turkey”). To avoid or reduce withdrawal symptoms, talk to your health care provider before quitting. They can help you stop using drugs slowly, which is often called “tapering.” This strategy gives your body time to adjust to life without drugs.
In addition, your doctor might recommend that you attend a medical detox program. During the program, you’ll receive 24/7 medical supervision as you taper off drugs.
Doctors will regularly check your vital signs to ensure you’re as comfortable as possible. They may also treat certain withdrawal symptoms with medications, such as anti-nausea medications or sleep aids.
3. Attend Therapy
Therapy is an essential part of addiction recovery. The most common types of therapy used in addiction treatment include:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
During cognitive-behavioral therapy, a mental health professional will help you change unhealthy attitudes and behaviors related to your addiction.
You’ll also learn coping strategies to help you manage cravings, such as deep breathing, journaling, and spending time with sober friends.
In group therapy, you’ll learn important recovery skills alongside other people who have struggled with drug addiction. You can also share recovery-related concerns and receive advice from the therapist and fellow group members.
In family therapy, a therapist will help you and your family members resolve conflicts and strengthen your relationships. In addition, your loved ones will learn how to best support your recovery.
Contingency Management (CM)
In contingency management, you’ll receive rewards (such as gift cards or cash) for staying sober and making other positive changes in your life. These rewards can motivate you to progress in your recovery.
4. Take Medications
If you’re addicted to alcohol or opioids you may benefit from medication-assisted treatment (MAT). In MAT, doctors prescribe medications to make recovery easier.
Medications prescribed for alcohol addiction include:
- acamprosate, which reduces alcohol cravings
- disulfiram, which discourages alcohol use by causing unpleasant side effects (like nausea and headache) when you drink alcohol
- naltrexone, which discourages alcohol use by blocking the pleasant effects of alcohol
Medications prescribed for opioid addiction include:
- buprenorphine, which reduces opioid cravings
- methadone, which reduces opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms
- naltrexone, which discourages opioid use by blocking the pleasant effects of opioids
These medications work best when combined with therapy. Talk to your doctor before starting any new medication.
5. Manage Co-Occurring Disorders
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 37.9% of adults with drug addiction also have at least one other mental health condition (such as depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, or schizophrenia).
If you treat your addiction but not your other mental health concerns, you face a much higher risk of relapse.
Luckily, many addiction recovery centers offer dual diagnosis treatment. This type of treatment addresses addiction alongside other mental health conditions. Depending on your needs, your treatment plan may include services like therapy, psychiatry, and support groups.
When searching for a dual diagnosis treatment program, make sure the treatment providers have experience treating your specific mental health condition(s).
If you or a loved one struggles with substance abuse, please contact a Recovering Champions specialist. We offer a variety of personalized, evidence-based treatment options, including therapy, medical detox, and support groups.