September is Recovery Month; sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSA), this month is focused on increased awareness and understanding of substance abuse. Celebrate survivors who have stayed clean and learn more about prevention and treatment.
Substance abuse is devastating to a person and his or her loved ones. A person becomes so dependent on a certain drug that other areas of life suffer. Money first goes to buying the needed substance. Health, relationships, work, and living space all suffer so that the person can get their fix.
The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) uses the term to cover a harmful dependence on ten types of ingested or inhaled drugs. The classifications include but are not limited to alcohol, caffeine, cannabis, hallucinogens, opioids, sedatives, hypnotics, stimulants, tobacco, and other substances.
Treatment for substance abuse first starts with a person realizing that they have a problem and need to change. Even if a person is arrested and required to attend substance abuse treatment, if that person does not agree that they have a problem, treatment is unlikely to work.
There are several parts to a comprehensive treatment plan. According SAMSA, different components are necessary to address all areas impacted by substance abuse.
Individual and group counseling: A person needs therapy to understand the addition, triggers and develop other coping skills to stay clean.
Inpatient and residential treatment: Sometimes a person needs to be in a full time, supervised setting to break free from an addition. Painful and dangerous physical withdrawal symptoms usually need medical supervision. An inpatient or residential program can handle this period of recovery. In addition, the structure helps give a person a complete break from triggers.
Medication support: Some substance abuse benefit from medication support. Simple things like nicotine replacement to methadone can give relief from long term symptoms and help a person remain free of the addicting substance.
Recovery support services: This category includes a range of services that help a person receive continued treatment and support. After release from an inpatient or residential program, a person will still need counseling and other supports to stay free of an addiction. Services can include transportation to/from a support group or clinic, spiritual guidance, help finding employment, temporary living quarters, outreach and other support.
Peer to peer groups: One of the most well-known examples of a peer to peer support group is Alcoholics Anonymous. Other substance abuse survivors help newly clean or struggling persons to get and stay clean. A sponsor is usually assigned and that is a person who has been through substance abuse recovery and is there to help.
When a person suffers from substance abuse, they center all their decisions around getting the next fix despite the harm it causes themselves and those around them. Help is available for a person that knows they need to break free from an addition. It takes a lot of work and a daily promise to stay clean and sober.