When most people think of addiction, they conjure up images of people using drugs or drinking alcohol to excess. However, there are many other types of addiction besides substance addiction. Addictions fall into two primary categories: chemical and behavioral. Each class of addiction requires a different approach to treatment. Here's what you need to know.
This category encompasses addictions to a variety of substances, including illegal drugs like cocaine, hallucinogens, heroin and more. It also includes legal drugs like prescription medications, whether prescribed or purchased illegally. Alcohol and tobacco also fall into this category. Chemical addictions even include common substances that are popular for everyday use, like caffeine.
When a person is suffering from a chemical addiction and they take the substance, their body undergoes physical changes, including things like feelings of euphoria, reduction in pain and other enjoyable effects. However, once the substance has left the body, the person typically experiences physical cravings for the substance. In some cases, the aftereffects are so strong, as with heroin use, that it seems like the only recourse is to get high once more.
This vicious cycle of getting high, feeling worse afterwards and getting high again to counteract the negative side effects plays a major role in what makes certain substances so addictive. In the most extreme cases, withdrawal symptoms can even be deadly. Of course, ingesting these substances can sometimes be fatal as well so it is important to seek treatment as quickly as possible when you are in the throes of a chemical addiction.
Many believe that a genetic component comes into play in chemical addictions, meaning that if someone else in your family suffered from substance addiction, you are more likely to fall into a similar pattern of behavior. This is not to say that everyone who has a history of chemical addiction in their family will become an addict, but rather that certain individuals may be more at risk than others. Those who have no history of addiction in their families can become addicted to drugs or alcohol just as easily as those who come from a family of addicts.
Treatment for Chemical Addictions
The treatment for most chemical addictions typically starts with a period of detoxifying the body, ridding it of any foreign substance that remains. For many, this is the most challenging part of the treatment process as the body goes through withdrawal symptoms. As previously mentioned, withdrawal can sometimes lead to a person's death, so it is crucial to go through this process under the watchful care of a professional, like a doctor or addiction specialist.
Once the substance has left the body, the focus of treatment shifts to the mind. In this phase, the patient typically goes through some form of therapy, either in a group or individual setting, often both. The goal of this process is to identify the underlying triggers that drive a person to use in the first place. Individual therapy is great for getting down to the root of the problem, while group sessions are helpful in learning how to communicate effectively with others. Hearing the personal stories of others can help the patients to reevaluate their own behaviors and learn from their past mistakes.
After the trigger points have been identified, the patient can then move on to learning more constructive ways to deal with stress, pain, loneliness, boredom and other common triggers. By replacing negative actions, like substance abuse, with more positive alternatives, like exercise, spending time with loved ones and learning new skills, the patient learns how to manage their emotions and urges in a healthy way.
Following treatment, the patient may continue to attend therapy sessions to help maintain their progress or they may join a support group to keep them on track. Many options follow the 12-step program pioneered by Alcoholics Anonymous. Throughout the program, participants are asked to evaluate their lives, make amends to those they have wronged in the past and shift their focus to their spirituality. Although these types of programs don't necessarily work for every addict, many individuals have found great success with them.
Behavioral addictions encompass those activities that people can grow to perform compulsively. Typically, these actions generate some form of pleasure for the practitioner, either mentally or physically. In many cases, the feelings that people get when they engage in their addictive behavior closely resemble those of substance addiction, including feelings of euphoria and excitement.
Many of the behaviors that can become addictions are not harmful in and of themselves, like exercise, eating, sex and shopping. It is when these behaviors are taken to such an extreme that they become disruptive to a person's life that they warrant the classification of behavioral addiction. When a person is suffering from a behavioral addiction, they will continue to engage in a certain behavior, even if it is causing problems in their career, health, personal relationships and other areas of their life.
This type of addiction is psychological, rather than physical, so you won't see the physical withdrawal symptoms that you would with substance addictions. You can, however, notice psychological signs of withdrawal, including irritability and stress when unable to perform a particular action or behavior.
In many cases, behavioral addictions coincide with other mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety. In some cases, the addiction triggers the mental health issues, while in other cases, the effect is reversed. In still other cases, the two are not directly related, but instead, combine to create a person who is incapable of escaping their dysfunction without help.
Treatment for Behavioral Addictions
Because there is minimal risk for health complications during the "withdrawal" period, treatment for behavioral addictions focuses on the mental aspects of recovery. As with chemical addiction treatment, much of the treatment for behavioral addictions concentrates on identifying trigger points for the behavior and replacing unhealthy actions with healthier alternatives.
Treatment for behavioral addiction can be done in both inpatient and outpatient settings, and, like treatment for chemical addiction, can incorporate both individual and group therapy. Support groups are common in this type of treatment as well, including 12-step programs and other similar methods.
Because behavioral addictions often go hand in hand with mental health disorders, many treatment programs incorporate psychology or psychiatry as well in an effort to combat other conditions that may be exacerbating the problem. If you, like many others, suffer from multiple conditions, you would do well to look for a treatment facility that can accommodate your needs.
Many patients prefer to start with an inpatient treatment program before moving on to an outpatient program. A key benefit of going this route is that inpatient treatment takes you out of your normal environment, helping you to avoid many of the triggers that contribute to your addiction. This way, you'll be able to focus on your recovery in a controlled environment that prevents you from going back to your addictive behaviors.
By the time you make the transition to outpatient treatment, you'll be armed with a variety of tools and techniques to help you stay the course on your own. Of course, with outpatient treatment, you'll still have to attend therapy sessions or support groups, but the focus will have shifted from eliminating the addictive behavior to maintaining your adherence to your new lifestyle.
Choosing the Right Treatment Facility
Each addict's needs are different, so the best treatment facility for one person may not be suitable for another. In choosing a treatment facility, whether inpatient or outpatient, it is important to find the one in which you feel most comfortable. Each treatment facility has its own philosophy as to how to treat various addictions, so you need to find the one that makes the most sense for you.
For example, if you are the type of person who thrives under adversity, you would likely do well with a boot camp-style treatment program. If, on the other hand, you tend to be more sensitive, a compassionate treatment program would likely be better for you. However, you may also find that a program that forces you to get out of your comfort zone may be more effective. Think about your personality and preferences to decide which style of treatment is right for you.
You'll also want to take the location of the facility into consideration. You may wish to get as far away from your usual environment as possible or you may prefer to stay close to home. Also, some treatment programs allow family to visit during the course of treatment so you'll need to take that into consideration as well. If you don't wish to see your family during treatment in order to allow you to focus on your recovery with minimal distractions, be sure to communicate your wishes to them in advance. However, seeing your family may help motivate you to work even harder to conquer your addiction.
Finally, you'll need to evaluate the specific addictions that a facility specializes in treating. Some rehabilitation centers take a general approach that can be applied to many different addictions, while others offer a more narrow focus, treating only addictions to specific substances or behaviors, for example. In a general setting, you'll learn techniques and strategies that can be applied to any addiction, while in a more specialized facility, you'll be surrounded by others in similar situations to your own.
If you suffer from mental health conditions alongside your addiction, be sure to choose a facility that offers mental health care services as well. With multiple conditions, you'll need more specialized treatment. Make sure that the facility you choose can accommodate these needs.
Before you check yourself into a treatment facility, take the time to meet with the care providers to get a better sense of how they approach treatment. During this time, you'll also have the opportunity to tour the facility and get a better sense of what your life will be like for the duration of your treatment period. Pay attention to how you feel while at the facility; you'll be spending a fair bit of time there and you won't be able to fall back on your addiction if you are feeling less than comfortable. Take your time in evaluating your options to find the best fit.
Get the Treatment You Need
Here at Pemarro Recovery Center, we have helped countless individuals on their quests to recover from their addictions, and we can help you too. Our caregivers are highly trained in helping patients get through the difficult early stages of substance withdrawal. This prepares them to transition to an inpatient or outpatient treatment program later on.
In addition to providing the medical care needed during withdrawal, we also provide individual and group counseling to get our patients started on the path to recovery. Our caregivers are compassionate and work with each patient on an individualized basis, creating a personalized plan for their ongoing treatment and recovery.
We welcome you to get in touch with us to learn more about our facility and the care that we provide. Our caregivers will be happy to answer your questions and take you on a tour of our recovery center. Reach out to us today to schedule an appointment for a tour.