For individuals suffering from addiction, the decision to stop using drugs can be life-saving. However, for whatever reason, some people forego professional treatment in favor of an at-home detox and other self care methods. And while this decision is noble, the refusal to seek professional care can have dangerous consequences.
Keep reading to learn more about the importance of professional addiction treatment, including the impact it can have on physical health, psychological well-being and overall quality of life.
The Early Stages of Recovery: Why Professional Help is Crucial
Depending on the substance, the abrupt discontinuation of drugs can result in withdrawal symptoms. Drugs like alcohol, heroin, cocaine, narcotic painkillers and sedatives are associated with withdrawal symptoms that include the following:
- Intense cravings for addictive substances.
- Aches and pains in the muscles, bones and joints.
- Nausea and vomiting, which increase the risks associated with dehydration.
- Severe depression or anxiety.
- Hallucinations, especially in cases of alcoholism.
- Fever, sneezing, chills and other flu-like symptoms.
- High blood pressure, which can result in stroke and cardiovascular complications.
- Risk of seizure.
- Aggression or violent behaviors.
- An increased risk of suicide and other types of self-harm.
Because of the risks associated with detoxification, undergoing this process in a medical setting is essential to the patient’s well-being, as well as to a healthy recovery. During inpatient detox, patients are closely monitored, and the risks associated with this process are significantly reduced. Also, since detox can result in strong cravings for drugs or alcohol, professional treatment can reduce the risk of relapse, and lay the groundwork for a successful recovery.
The Psychological Side of Addiction
Mental health plays an important role in the development of addiction. For example, for many people, substance abuse is used as a means of self-medicating the symptoms of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and other types of mental illness. If left untreated, mental illness can result in continued substance abuse, as well as a worsening of psychological disorders.
On the other hand, counseling, group therapy and other professional treatment methods are designed to address the underlying causes of addiction, as well as the debilitating effects of this disease. For example, during one-on-one counseling, patients are encouraged to explore their histories with addictive substances, and formulate coping strategies in the interest of lifelong health and sobriety. Plus, when it comes to mental illness, a trained professional can effectively diagnose conditions like depression and bipolar disorder, and prescribe medications that will keep symptoms at bay. Combined, medication and talk therapy can reduce the need to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol, and greatly enhance the odds of a successful, lasting recovery.
After Treatment: Staying Sober with Professional Help
Recovery is a lifelong process; even after completing a treatment program, the risk of relapse is significant. However, with professional followup care, continued sobriety is more easily achieved. For example, followup counseling, group therapy and other professional methods can help recovering addicts avoid addictive substances, as well as learn to live without the crutches of drugs and alcohol.
Addiction is a powerful disease with life-threatening consequences. And, for someone struggling with this illness, professional help can mean the difference between life and death. Through the proper treatment methods and the help of trained addiction specialists, this disease can be treated, safely and effectively.