Drug addiction is both an individual problem and social issue

Drug addiction is simply caused by drug abuse, a relative term, which means excessive use of drugs. Today, a large number of people, from all age groups, are addicted to drugs. Everyone talks about drug addiction, the rampant use of drugs, causes and effects, but it is important to know what drug addiction actually is? Drug addiction simply means being physically or psychologically dependent on some substance or the drug, that causes or is believed to cause some kind of physical or mental relaxation.

There are also two related phenomena which need to be explained to understand the problem of addiction; first is drug tolerance which means in order to get the adequate effect of the drug, the effect being feeling high, a person needs to take increasing amount of drug day by day to get the effect. Other phenomenon is withdrawal effects which is a shackle both in mind and body that holds back the victim in the hell of drug addiction. So, most of the addicts want to leave the drug addiction but the physical withdrawal symptoms like pain, nausea, severe body ache, diarrhoea etc., and mental withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, anger, feeling low, psychotic symptoms like hallucinations hold them back, and this is the place where a good drug rehab can play its role.

Drug addiction is both an individual problem and social issue; if you are victim of drug abuse or any of your close ones is addicted to drugs, then you should necessarily seek rehabilitation, and also inform and motivate others to get rid of this menace.

There must be a moderation in how we look at the problem of drug addiction, at one hand we can’t label people with addiction as completely immoral, bad people. We must understand that addiction has biological, psychological and social causes which experts view as bio-psycho-social model. They have innate tendency for addiction because of their brain structural abnormalities, they have a personality make up which predisposes them to abuse drugs and finally their social factors like relationship issues, a neighborhood where drug abuse is a norm, peer pressure etc. While on the other hand we can’t strip people with addiction off the responsibility they have in getting rid of it. What Victor Frankyl rightly said, if pan determinism is true and universal then euthanasia was justified. So, it means human beings have a gift of free will, they are not robots run on battery of biological or unconscious forces.

In short, we have to balance the things while accepting people with addiction as ill, respecting them as members of society, not making fun of their suffering. On the other hand, we have to rekindle the fire of free will within these sufferers by different approaches like logotherapy, Motivational enhancement therapy and religion oriented therapy.

If you want yourself or some dear one to get rid of this menace, first acknowledge and validate their suffering, connect with them empathetically, place yourself in their shoes because it could have been you as well, and admit them in a good rehabilitation centre/drug de-addiction centre.

Before choosing any drug de-addiction centre, you should surely ask these  queries  to ensure the centre meets standards to give proper rehabilitation.

1. Is the Drug rehab centre you are opting for, registered under some medical authority?

This is a very important thing to know about a drug de-addiction centre, because an unregistered rehab centre won’t provide you treatment as per standards set by medical authorities.

2. What is the time period for a particular rehabilitation programme?

Some rehabilitation centers have short term programs, some have long term drug rehab programs like six months or a year. However, the main thing of your concern is how much time your addiction needs to be treated? You should, therefore, choose a rehabilitation centre that is flexible and will treat you till you gain strong control on your addiction.

3. What kind of detoxification facilities are available at the drug rehab kernel?

The best drug rehab centre is the one that has medically supervised detoxification programme.

Detoxification is the process of getting rid of toxins present in your body, accumulated due to drug abuse. It is important to detoxify your body before going for further treatment. The process of detox involves simply remaining away from substances you abuse till blood stream is clear from them. However, it is not easy to withdraw from drugs, especially causing physiological dependence. Stopping the drugs of abuse instantly is accompanied by cascade of withdrawal symptoms that need to be handled. For example, the withdrawal symptoms of alcohol are racing heart, fever, sweating, headache, anxiety, mood swings etc.

4. Does the rehab centre treat the addiction with the help of other addictive drug and are they using evidence based approaches?

Although, sometimes medical practitioners need to give some sedatives to control the withdrawal symptoms, but that shouldn’t get you addicted to another drug. Therefore, the rehab programme should be run by expert medical practitioners and rehab facility should have record of successful patient history.

5. Are the Rehabilitation facilities indoor or outdoor?

It is very important to know, whether, the rehabilitation programme is run indoor (residential), where patients are kept admitted 24/7 until they recover and outdoor spending few hours in the center. It all depends on intensity of your addiction and is important to choose the correct one for your recovery.

6. Does the centre of rehabilitation focus on physical exercises and other creative work?

Physical exercise boosts your mood and brings confidence that can be very helpful to get rid of the addictive drugs. Once your will power is strengthened, you will fight more with your addiction. Working creatively will help you engage your mind and get rid of craving.

7. Does the rehabilitation programme teach the life skills to cope with life stresses, so, the addict won’t again fall into trap of drugs?

When the person leaves the rehab centre, after getting rid of the addiction, he is going to live in society from where he learned drug abuse. So, he should be equipped with essential life skills that will help him deal with his craving. The addict as mentioned above has come from the problematic environment on top of that he is biologically and psychologically vulnerable, therefore, it’s very important to equip him with the copings so that he won’t relapse. He needs training in problem solving, emotional regulation, delayed gratification and anger management. Moreover, motivational enhancement therapy is an evidence based therapy to help the  patient with his own motivation, his own free will to shun the drug abuse.

Religion and moral teachings can act as strong coping mechanisms.

8. Does the rehabilitation centre use combination of medicine and psychotherapeutic interventions?

The preliminary intervention for the problem of addiction is usually medication especially with drugs that have physical dependence and the body needs to be detoxified. During the detoxification process, which is a weaning period, a person can go through serious withdrawal symptoms, which can be even fatal. So medication at this stage is important. In addition to medication a good therapeutic approach needs to be incorporated in the regimen in order to have long lasting effects. The therapy can unravel the causes of addiction ranging from as early as infancy to current life crisis. Therapy can help patients to identify and develop effective and long lasting copings and can also treat the patient with his own motivation. It should be born in mind that therapy cannot be provided by everyone without training. Also, listening to patient with keen ear is important; a therapist should be a patient listener.

9. If a person relapses, does it mean he can never leave the addiction?

Obviously not, in fact most people relapse many times before they get rid of it. This doesn’t give addict impunity to try more, believing I can handle it later, however. Weaning off from the drug or any type of addiction goes through stages.

10. What is the best remedy for rising drug abuse?

It is rightly said “bend the willow while it is young”. Primary prevention is always better and recommended. We have to teach coming generations problem focused coping styles which puts emphasis on solving problem at hand rather than getting caught in emotion focused coping which involves brooding, using drugs, day dreaming and blaming external sources etc. This again depends on the family environment in particular and social environment in general. At the same time we as responsible members of society have to actively work for stopping drug trafficking, and authorities should be very strict in this regard.

Religion can play a very important role which can help youth realize their purpose.

Author is a clinical psychologist