Addiction treatment: what does it consist of?
A summary of the characteristics of addiction treatment, with its stages and objectives.
Addictions are one of the most widespread psychological disorders today in any Western society, and have the particularity of deteriorating the quality of people quickly. Although there are differences between them in terms of the level of immediate danger, in general in all cases there is a tendency to experience a very significant physical wear that shortens the years of life, and an impoverishment of all areas of life (social relationships, ability to find work, etc.).
That is why it is very important to tackle this type of problems as soon as possible and to turn to accredited and experienced health professionals to intervene in this kind of disorders. But... what exactly does addiction treatment consist of? We will see it below.
How does addictive disorder develop?
Addictions are much more than the tendency to perform over and over again the same type of actions to satisfy an impulse that becomes increasingly uncontrollable. It is a phenomenon that affects both the behavior of the individual and the context in which he/she lives, and that even changes in the functioning and structure of his or her brain..
On the one hand, repeatedly consuming the need that generates the addiction leads the brain to reorganize itself internally to make this goal become the priority objective for the person, so that all other aspects of life take second place.
It is not a free decision or a moral position: it is a matter of nerve cells always being activated in the same way through the brain's reward system, which "learns" to interpret the source of the addiction as that which is capable of generating a moment of satisfaction or a really significant reward.
Over time, this need needs to be consumed more frequently and with greater urgency, and it also requires a great deal of involvement.It is also required to engage much more in such behaviors to obtain the same sense of transient satisfaction, compared to earlier stages of the addictive process. This is because the brain becomes accustomed to this torrent of chemical elements that take control of its functioning every time that impulse is satisfied, and this is the reason why, for example, the same ration of drugs that gave pleasure months ago, after a while generates frustration because it is insufficient.
In addition, as the person gets deeper into addiction, his or her way of life and social context changes to adapt to the fact that practically his or her only concern is to satisfy the addictive need. Thus, family relationships often deteriorate, lifelong friendships deteriorate, and the people with whom the addict spends the time he or she is addicted to the addiction change. people with whom they spend their free time are often also involved in the sale or use of drugs. in the sale or use of drugs, gambling, or whatever is driving the disorder.
Therefore, addiction treatment must adapt to this triple reality: addiction is maintained and reproduced because the brain has modified its functioning to prioritize a single goal, the social and daily context exposes it more to addiction, and the person's habits make him/her get used to organizing his/her day-to-day life so that it is easy to relapse again and again.
Addiction treatment: what is it like?
As we have seen, an addiction is a complex phenomenon that involves several levels of intervention: biological, behavioral and contextual. For this reason, addiction treatment consists in a process of regaining control over one's own life, which takes into account these elements that takes into account these elements, leaving none of them unattended.
Next we will see which are the main phases through which the treatment of addictions passes. All of them are designed to lead the patient to a life in which dependence on the addiction is reduced to such an extent that it no longer conditions the person's daily life, although at each stage different procedures and sub-objectives are proposed, as we shall see.
1. Detoxification phase
In the detoxification phase, the person is helped to spend several days away from the influence of the addiction, and to manage in the best possible way the discomfort generated by abstinence during these first hours of detoxification..
The aim is to allow the body to eliminate the accumulation of potential addictive substances, and to prevent the symptoms of the need to consume from significantly harming the patient (e.g. insomnia or severe anxiety). For this it is very important the intervention and supervision by doctors and other health professionals with experience to act in this critical moment in which an acute malaise manifests itself.
Once the "monkey" has passed, the next phase of addiction treatment appears.
2. Detoxification phase
In the withdrawal phase, physical and psychological health professionals help the patient to take his or her first steps as a person who must move away from addiction. Although the acute discomfort of the first phase is gone, the need to go back to what the addiction is based on is still present, and so here we must help to "train" the person to manage his or her emotions, to recognize the thoughts and behaviors that increase the risk of relapse, and to generate healthy habits that will help him or her to avoid relapse.and to generate healthy habits that keep them away from the influence of this form of dependence.
In this way, psychologists and physicians work together so that the patient can organize his or her life in a way that gradually gives him or her more independence and control over what happens to him or her, while the need to relapse is no longer the only priority.
3. Reintegration or rehabilitation phase
In this phase, the biopsychological aspect of addiction is no longer as problematic as in the detoxification stage, although it is still present.
The objective here is to enable the patient to re-establish life habits linked to a context of addiction. and that they do not rely on any of the elements that facilitate relapse, as well as providing them with situations in which they can get involved again in exciting activities and projects with the capacity to offer them medium and long-term incentives, and from which they can re-structure their lives away from drugs, gambling or any other source of addiction.
Here we also work to get the person used to being exposed to social contexts far from potentially addictive stimuli, especially considering that those who have developed one type of addiction have a much higher risk of developing another. For this reason, participation in social groups of people who reject the use of drugs and the like is encouraged, as well as a return to family life or with friends who can help to avoid relapse.
Are you looking for professional help for addiction treatment?
If you live in the metropolitan area of Barcelona and are looking for help to overcome an addiction, we invite you to get in touch with our professionals at CITA Clinics.
This entity, which has a presence in Barcelona and Dosrius (Mataró), specializes specifically in the treatment of addictions whether they are based on the consumption of substances or have to do with addictive behaviors (such as gambling addiction).
In addition, we have an inpatient facility surrounded by nature and full of different medical and therapeutic medical and therapeutic services, monitoring and counseling, as well as leisure spaces to keep away from relapses: gardens, reading room and library, equine-assisted psychotherapy area, physiotherapy area, swimming pool, gym, physiotherapy room, etc.
Si te interesa saber más acerca de Clínicas CITA para contar con nuestro equipo de expertos en el tratamiento de adicciones, contactáctanos a través de este enlace.
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- Kauer, J.A.; R.C. Malenka (2007). Synaptic plasticity and addiction. Nature Reviews Neuroscience. 8(11): pp. 844 - 58.
- Volkow, N.D.; Fowler J.S.; Wang, G.J.; Swanson J.M.; Telang, F. (2007). Dopamine in drug abuse and addiction: results of imaging studies and treatment implications. Arch. Neurol. 64(11): pp. 1575 - 1579.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)