The Importance of Treating Addictions at the Same Time
August 29, 2016 - Drug Addiction, Treatment - 0 Comments
The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines addiction as a chronic and relapsing brain disease. Once hooked, an individual develops a compulsive need to use despite the consequences. It is unclear why some people have a higher risk of addiction but there are multiple factors in play such as genetics, environment and even the current culture.
What is clear is that people with this tendency are at risk for co-occurring disorders or polydrug addiction. Put simply, they have multiple medical problems and addictions that require treatment. These dueling conditions feed on one another like parasites. A drug addiction treatment plan for complex addictions needs to include all co-occurring disorders at once, but why?
How Do Multiple Addictions Develop?
The addiction cycle can start with something as basic as cigarettes and escalate to the deadly need to smoke crack cocaine or use heroin. Alcohol is the most common dual problem seen by drug addiction treatment centers, such as:
- Alcohol and heroin
- Alcohol and cocaine
- Alcohol and prescription painkillers
- Alcohol and stimulants
Addiction changes the brain, disturbing that person’s normal needs and desires. It reestablishes their priorities, putting the need to use at the top of the list. It is a natural urge to attempt to control those impulses and that can lead to self-medicating with another substance, as well. What was once a single addiction becomes coexisting problems the require drug addiction treatment.
Why Treat Multiple Problems at Once?
Plans for the treatment of drug addiction address the whole person, not just the individual problem. This is why it is so critical to deal with co-existing addictions at once. If a person goes into recovery for addiction to heroin without managing that compulsion to drink, it increases their vulnerability to relapse. Drinking alcohol will not only fuel the desire to use heroin, it will affect their judgment making them more likely to give into the impulse.
Drug addiction treatment centers don’t just deal with additions, either. Most will evaluate the mental health of their clients to ensure there isn’t an underlying condition contributing to the addiction such as depression or bipolar disorder. That core mental health issue is likely the root of all the addictions, so the treatment plan needs to address everything at once.
The various types of addiction can also be clues to the root cause. Some common combinations include:
- Depression and cocaine abuse
- Alcohol and panic disorder
- Schizophrenia with multiple drug addictions and alcohol
The staff will use the different combination of addictions to assess the person’s mental health and develop a comprehensive drug treatment plan.
How Does Multiple Problems Change the Treatment of Drug Addiction?
Treating multiple addictions requires a more complex care strategy because each addiction comes with its own baggage. Some of the basic options offered at drug addiction treatment centers include drug therapy to ease the symptoms of withdrawal. A person addicted to alcohol might receive a benzodiazepine to help with detox, but that would a poor choice if there is also an addiction to prescription drugs in play.
The treatment care staff needs to know about all the substance abuse problems, so they can craft a treatment plan that is both safe and effective, especially during detoxification. Once past that stage, they will look for underlying causes for all the addictions and develop a treatment designed for the whole person.
How Do You Recover From Multiple Addictions?
Addiction is a chronic illness, so relapse is likely for most people – that risk increases when you have multiple addictions. Treating the multiple problems that exist in one therapeutic process creates a living scenario that works for all the addictions.
Stress is a major trigger for relapse. If a person deals with only one addiction at a time, they are exposing themselves to the additional stress that comes with an untreated medical problem. The treatment protocols for addiction work to stave off cravings and help manage a sober lifestyle free from any substance that threatens it. That is only possible if you deal with all the addictions at once.
Getting sober is dependent on a person’s ability to modify behavior, even if there are multiple substances involved. Tackling all those concerns at one time offers the best chance at full recovery.
His and Her Houses offers industry leading Addiction Treatment Programs. We were founded in 1994 and we base our Drug Addiction Treatment programs on five key principles: commitment, honesty, integrity, respect, and service. These five principles guide us in all that we do and all the care we provide. Contact us today to see how we can help you or your loved one at (888) 376-7268.