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Drug and Alcohol Rehab Referral Service

In the United States, drug addiction is a growing concern. Defined as the continued use of a particular substance despite the appearance of negative consequences, addiction is a chronic brain disease that can have devastating effects on virtually all areas of health and well-being. The following is an in-depth look at addiction, including information on causes, complications and treatment options.

Causes of Addiction

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction to drugs and alcohol is a chronic brain disease that can occur in individuals of all ages and types. However, although addiction can happen to anyone, there are a variety of risk factors associated with this condition. A few risk factors for addiction include the following:

  • Family history – Due to either genetics or learned behaviors, addiction can often run in the family.
  • Being a male – Studies show that males are more likely to develop addiction than their female counterparts.
  • Psychological illness – Many individuals with psychological problems use drugs and alcohol as a means of self-medication.
  • Family problems – Problems within families can often lead to substance abuse and, ultimately, addiction. This is especially true of teens and young adults but is often seen in older individuals as well.
  • Peer pressure – Studies show that having close friends who use drugs and alcohol can significantly increase an individual’s risk of developing a substance abuse problem themselves.

Complications of Addiction

Without treatment, addiction can lead to serious complications. In addition to growing dependence on drugs or alcohol, the following risks are posed by continued substance abuse:

  • Overdose – While all drugs can lead to overdose, the most common to do so include heroin, sedatives, stimulants and alcohol. Also, it’s important to note that mixing two or more drugs can significantly increase an individual’s risk of overdose.
  • Disease – Due to risky behaviors such as sharing syringes, promiscuity and prostitution, drug users are at increased risk of contracting or transmitting a variety of communicable diseases, including life-threatening illnesses like HIV and hepatitis C.
  • A decline in physical health – Drug use can have a devastating impact on physical health. For example, damage to the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys often occur as a result of prolonged substance abuse.
  • Problems within relationships – Substance abuse often plays a role in issues like divorce, loss of child custody and the dissolution of friendships.
  • Psychological and emotional distress – Because of the stress associated with drug abuse, a decline in mental and emotional health is common among prolonged users. This can often lead to complications such as behavioral changes, depression, anxiety and an increased risk of suicide or self-harm.
  • Financial problems – Funding a costly drug habit, in addition to difficulties maintaining employment, can often lead to financial hardships for addicts and their families.
  • Legal problems – Drug use puts addicts at risk for engaging in a variety of criminal activities, a few of which include theft, prostitution, embezzlement, illegal distribution of drugs, public intoxication, etc.


An intervention is a carefully-planned process which serves to encourage an addict to seek treatment. A typical intervention involves friends, family members and other loved ones of the addict in question. The following steps are often used in planning an intervention:

  • With or without guidance from a trained interventionist or addiction specialist, loved ones get together and orchestrate the intervention. This includes agreeing on a time and place to perform the intervention as well as researching available treatment options. In most cases, one friend or family member is responsible for ensuring the addict’s presence at the intervention.
  • The addict is confronted about their drug use. Often, loved ones take turns presenting the addict with factual information regarding addiction, including specific examples of addictive behaviors and the damage they have caused. For example, a loved one might give a detailed account of how the addict’s behaviors have affected relationships, family dynamics, careers, finances, etc.
  • The addict is encouraged to seek treatment. Often, loved ones outline the consequences of refusing treatment; for example, friends and family members may vow to dissolve relationships or discontinue financial or emotional support unless help is sought.

Drug Rehab Facilities

In the treatment of addiction, drug rehab facilities can provide significant benefits to health and well-being. Depending on the addict’s individual needs and circumstances, a number of options are available in the way of treatment type and environment. Of the treatment options available, studies show that inpatient rehabilitation facilities are most effective at treating both the acute and long-term effects of addiction. And although there are many different types of inpatient treatment, most facilities use the following steps and approaches in treating the causes, symptoms and effects of addiction.


Typically the first stage of addiction rehabilitation, detoxification is a process that cleanses the body of all addictive substances. In many patients, especially those recovering from addiction to opiates, alcohol and sedatives, detoxification can lead to the appearance of withdrawal symptoms like the following:

  • Fever, chills, runny nose and other flu-like symptoms.
  • Insomnia.
  • Shaking, tremors and, in some cases, seizure.
  • Headache.
  • Muscle cramps and body aches.
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Increased risk of dehydration.
  • Agitation, irritation and mood swings – Because of the hazards associated with this process, undergoing detox in an inpatient environment can provide significant benefits to patients in recovery. For example, the care and support provided by trained professionals can ensure a safe detox and promote a healthy and effective recovery


Once detoxification is complete, the therapy stage of rehabilitation can begin. This stage of recovery is important for a number of reasons. First of all, psychotherapy encourages the patient to explore their issues with drugs and alcohol as well as address any underlying sources of psychological stress. By determining contributing factors of substance abuse, patients are better equipped to achieve and maintain long-term sobriety. A variety methods are used in the treatment of addiction. However, studies show that a combination of behavioral and cognitive therapies are most effective in treating addiction and preventing relapse. These methods are designed to help the patient identify and change destructive thoughts and behaviors in the interest of sustained sobriety and overall health.

Group Therapy

Another helpful form of psychotherapy is group counseling. Led by a trained mental health professional, group therapy consists of a group of patients with similar experiences with substance abuse. Like one-on-one psychotherapy, group counseling promotes the exploration of addiction through open discussion. Group sessions, however, provide the added benefit of peer support, shared knowledge and accountability.

Family Counseling

Substance abuse can have a broad impact on family dynamics and personal relationships. Because of this, many rehabilitation facilities provide family therapy of some kind. In family counseling sessions, addicts and their loved ones can address issues related to addiction, including codependency and other destructive effects of addiction.

Addressing Physical Health

Because of the physical dangers associated with drug use, many facilities provide full screenings for recovering patients. This often includes testing for disease as well as treating any drug-related damage to physical health.


Most inpatient rehab facilities provide continued care to patients in recovery. This type of aftercare often includes continued counseling sessions, group meetings and social support, e.g. assistance with housing, education, employment and more. Studies show that these methods can significantly enhance the patient’s quality of life by reducing the risk of relapse and improving overall health and well-being.

Although addiction can be overwhelming, treatment is available. Through the methods provided by inpatient rehabilitation facilities, addicts can learn how to live without drugs and alcohol.