Getting over an addiction: What treatments work?

Addiction is a treatable condition and it can be managed, if not cured successfully.

However, due to the nature of addictions it can be a long and difficult journey for those affected, and can vary addiction to addiction.

For instance, someone suffering with a substance addiction like alcohol or psychoactive drugs, may undertake a very physical treatment such as alternative drugs and experience grueling withdrawal symptoms including vomiting, muscle cramps and shifts in heart rate. Behavioural addictions such as out-of-control shopping, betting and exercising often need a different treatment approach such as behavioural therapy or counselling.

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Other treatments include community help groups, products such as NiQuitin which can help wean people off substances and rehab stays.

Part of treating any addiction, however, involves changing deeply embedded behaviours and associations within the brain, and requires the person themselves to be committed to making a change.

One example of behavioural therapy is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Findings show that undergoing CBT treatment can be very beneficial to overcoming an addiction. A study by NCRG (National Centre for Responsible Gaming) taken on people suffering with a gambling addiction showed that out of 35 participants, 33 improved while undergoing CBT compared to just 2 who were not.

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Rehab success can vary institution to institution. For instance, the best performing facilities in the UK had success rates of 80% (success= 5 years abstinence) while the worst facilities only had 20% success rates. So how successful a stint in rehab may be can rely heavily on the individual centre itself.

In 2016, more than 125,000 people used the drug and alcohol treatment system and 50% of these successfully completed it free of dependence.

One aspect that every treatment option seems to stress however, is that any treatment will only work if the patient is 100% committed to getting over their addiction, and that success relies heavily on the individual.



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