Friday 14 June 2024



Drug addiction starts as a voluntary act of consuming drugs but soon becomes a compulsive habit that the addict cannot resist. Addiction is caused by changes in the brain due to a chemical known as dopamine which creates sense of pleasure and the brain urges intake of more and more of the drug to create a ‘high’ of dopamine levels.

Drug addiction becomes a problem when abuser loses control over his drug use and addiction impairs physical, mental and economic aspects of the life of the drug abuser. Treatment is not simple, since addiction is a chronic disease and addicts cannot simply cut drug usage and be cured. There is danger of relapse and addicts need long term treatment to completely recover their lives.


De-addiction ensures that:

  • Person stops using drugs
  • Person stays drug free
  • Person becomes productive at work, society and family


Scientific studies since the 1970’s established the following principles as vital in any treatment program for drug addiction:

  • Drug addiction involves emotional behavioral disorder.
  • Addiction is a complicated but treatable disease that impacts behaviour and brain function.
  • There is no single treatment for curing addiction.
  • Addicts need prompt access to treatment.
  • Long term stay in treatment is critical
  • Effective treatment addresses all needs of addict not only her or his drug use.
  • Behavioral therapies and counseling are the most effective treatment methods.
  • Medication is also a vital part of treatment particularly when combined with behavioral therapy.
  • There must be regular review of the condition of the addict and treatment plan must be altered as per the needs of the patient.
  • Treatment must also deal with other co-occurring mental disorders.
  • Detoxification using medicines is the first step for treatment.
  • Effective treatment of a drug addict need not be voluntary or as per the willingness of the patient.
  • There must not be constant monitoring of drug use during treatment.
  • During treatment, major tests like Hepatitis C and B, AIDS/HIV, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases must be conducted. Addicts can also be made aware how they can avoid risk of such diseases.


Following are steps for successful treatment:

  • Detoxification: when body gets rid of drugs.
  • Counseling and behaviour therapy
  • Medication ( for opioid, alcohol and tobacco addictions)
  • Identifying and treating co-occurring conditions like anxiety and depression.
  • Preventing relapse via long term monitoring and follow-up.


  • It can be used to deal with withdrawal symptoms, co-occurring conditions and preventing relapse.
  • Withdrawal symptoms can be treated by detoxification which is the first step of treatment.
  • 80% of detoxification is done by medication.
  • Medication can be used to restore normal functioning of brain and reduce carving for drugs. Thus it can deal with relapse.


It helps patients:

  • Modify attitude and behaviour towards drug use
  • Enhance healthy life skills
  • Persist with other modes of treatment like medication

This therapy may be rendered on an out-patient as well as an in-patient basis. Admission to residential behavioral treatment centers is extremely useful for treating drug addiction.

These are some aspects about treatment of drug addiction.