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The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that over twenty-three million individuals suffer from substance abuse and addiction in the United States, but only about three million of these individuals actually seek treatment. Considering that substance abuse and addiction can quickly and thoroughly destroy an individual’s health, relationships, career and happiness, one would think that more substance abusers would want to seek treatment. The fact is that many individuals who suffer from substance abuse and addiction problems desperately wish that they could stop their drug use but they simply don’t know how to do so. Powerful, overwhelming cravings often drive them to do things that they wouldn’t normally do, including selling prized possessions or lying to and stealing from family members in order to further their drug habits. It is clear that such individuals need help, and they often need support and encouragement in finding help.

Recognizing Substance Abuse and Addiction Problems

An individual who uses drugs or alcohol may have convinced himself that he has very good reasons for doing so, and yet he still desires to hide his drug or alcohol use from others. In some cases, family members or friends may be unaware of an individual’s substance abuse and addiction problems until they are quite advanced and the individual has thoroughly destroyed his own and others’ lives. For this reason, it is very valuable to know the basic signs and symptoms of substance abuse and addiction:

* Changes in sleep patterns

* Sudden, dramatic weight loss or weight gain

* Deterioration of personal grooming

* Shakes

* Impaired coordination

* Slurred speech

* Seclusion from friends and family members

* Avoidance of previously enjoyable social activities

* Unusual and intense changes in mood or behavior

* Irritability

* Anxiety

* Paranoia

* Constant and unexplained lateness or absence from work, school or home

* Tendency to start arguments or fights with others, often over little things

While family members and friends may not be able to pinpoint exactly what has changed in their loved one, they are often aware of the fact that changes have occurred. While any sober individual may occasionally experience stresses in their life that drive them to exhibit some of the above-mentioned symptoms, substance abusers and addicts normally exhibit most of these symptoms at the same time.

The Value of Detoxification

In order to understand why a substance-abusing or addicted individual who simply chooses to abstain from future drug use is unlikely to meet with lasting success, one has to first understand how drug use begins, and how drug chemicals affect the body. Most individuals who turn to drug use do so in order to deal with a problem they have encountered in their life and for which they have no other ready solution. Drug chemicals are not designed to help individuals address the physical, mental or emotional problems they are facing, but they are designed to effectively suppress the symptoms of the problem. In most cases, the individual who takes drugs experiences some form of relief, and a separation between them and the problem they were struggling with. When the drug effects wear off, the drug has not empowered the individual to face or resolve the problem, but it has left him with a clear memory of the relief he experienced with the drug. This usually results in the individual’s decision to take more drugs.

After some time, a drug chemical can become tolerated by the body, and the individual no longer experiences the desired effects. This new problem can be handled in a variety of ways – from taking larger doses of the drug, taking the drug more frequently, or maybe even switching to a more potent drug. In any case, the individual may no longer even remember why they originally turned to drug use, they are now focused on achieving a desirable high that is produced through drug use. An individual who is experiencing drug tolerance may yet have some control over the frequency and quantity of their drug use, but is beginning to experience cravings that make it desirable to continue using drugs.

Drug dependence or addiction occurs at different points in time, depending on an individual’s frequency and quantity of drug use and the potency of the drug in use. Whenever it occurs, an individual’s choice to limit or control their drug use no longer matters. Intense physical and psychological cravings drive the individual to keep a certain volume of drug chemicals in their body at all times, and they are punished by uncomfortable, painful and sometimes life-threatening withdrawal symptoms when they fail to do so. This phenomenon explains why an individual may desire to stop their drug use but are unable to do so. It also explains the value of detoxification treatment.

Detoxification treatment helps an individual come off drug use as safely and comfortably as possible, eliminate residual drug toxins from their body, and learn how to build the foundation for a new life that is free from drugs and alcohol. What few people consider is the fact that physical drug dependence and addiction essentially controls the individual with an iron grip that can be impossible to overcome unless the individual receives support and assistance in withdrawing from drugs and eliminating drug toxins from their body. In many cases, an individual who participates in detoxification treatment feels markedly better, even before they’ve had assistance in addressing and resolving the mental and emotional causes and effects of drug use. There is no doubt that detoxification is the basic foundation upon which a healthy, happy future can be built.

Choosing the Right Detoxification Center

It may be true that all individuals in a detoxification center are there for the same basic reasons: to come off drug use and eliminate drug toxins from their body. However, every individual is different, and has different needs when it comes to any sort of drug rehabilitation treatment, including detoxification. Individuals who have participated in occasional binge drinking will have a different detoxification experience than individuals who have abused opiate drugs for several years. This is normal and natural, but makes choosing a detoxification center a very important decision. Some things to consider include:

* Is the detoxification center licensed and accredited? A licensed and accredited center will often have a program that is evidence-based and successful.

* Are the staff trained and experienced? Untrained and inexperienced staff can make errors that effectively derail a substance abuser’s journey on the road to recovery.

* What is the success rate of the detoxification center and program? Obviously, a program needs to be successful in order to effectively help someone detox and begin the long road to substance abuse recovery.

* What type of program is it? Some individuals may feel that they have minimal substance abuse problems and that they can be handled with outpatient detoxification treatment. Some individuals feel comfortable participating in treatment in hospital settings, and others feel more relaxed and comfortable in residential rehabilitation settings that are safe and withdrawn from their normal life environments and routines. It is important to evaluate what type of program is delivered at a detoxification center, and whether it meets one’s own personal needs.

* What additional services do they offer? There is no arguing that the process of drug detoxification can be uncomfortable or even extremely painful. In order to aid with the process, different detoxification centers may offer services that individuals find helpful, such as massage therapy, yoga classes, spiritual therapy, animal therapy and more.

Most individuals know what kind of detoxification treatment will likely be most effective for them but they often need help, support and encouragement to get there. It is worth it to carefully research and choose a detoxification treatment program based on the individual’s specific needs, so that they will be better able to eliminate drugs from their life and proceed into building a healthy future.