According to a report titled “Facing Addiction in America”, issued by the Surgeon General of the United States in 2016, one out of every twelve Americans are prone to substance abuse. The gravity of the situation recently prompted President Trump to describe the problem as a national public health emergency.

Fortunately, drug addiction can be overcome with a combination of treatment, medication and therapy. No less than 23.5 million Americans said that they had recovered from problems relating to drug or alcohol abuse, according to a poll conducted in 2012. For those who wish to help others overcome the scourge of substance abuse, here are a few guidelines.

  • Medication: Medical treatment for detoxification is usually the first step of the treatment process. Recent research has established that long acting medicines can be just as effective as short acting ones like buprenorphine or methadone, which have been in use since several years now. It is important to remember that medication is only the starting point, not a one-stop shop for treating substance abuse.
  • Drug Rehabilitation: Medication needs to be supplemented by course at a rehabilitation center. Good drug rehabs are known for successfully helping sufferers overcome substance abuse. Admittedly, the choice of rehab center is not an easy one to make. However, one reliable indicator is the nature of the treatment, since there cannot be a one size fits all approach for drug rehabilitation. The more personalised the approach, the greater the chances of success. 
  • Behavioral Therapy: The ill effects of drugs are not limited to the body alone. Substance abuse is known to cause changes in the functioning of the brain. Therefore, behavioral therapy is an important component of the treatment plan. These therapies usually focus on weaning addicts away from drugs through a combination of motivation, skill development to help overcome temptation and designing alternate activities to replace drug use.It is important to note that behavioral therapy need to be confined to the patient alone, it can even extend to the people in his immediate vicinity, such as family members or the community in which he or she lives. In fact, recent research suggests that treatment in a community based facility has a greater probability of success.
  • Constant Monitoring: Patient needs keep evolving. Consequently, it becomes imperative to continuously assess the treatment plan and make necessary changes based on changing requirements. The people close to the patient should be mindful of the fact that monitoring is an on-going activity that never ends, because a relapse can occur anytime. According to statistics released by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, the probability of it is in the range of 40 to 60 per cent, which means a relapse is by no means a sign of failure.
  • Patience: Last, but not the least, patients and their near and dear ones need to realise that recovery from substance abuse is a long-drawn process with several challenges and possible frustrations along the way. Therefore, it is important never to lose hope. After all, there are 23.5 million people in the US who have successfully overcome addiction.
This article was written by the NUS community. If you would like to contribute your article, please get in touch.