Addiction as we know is a brain disease that develops an unending urge to use drugs or alcohol. It has emerged to become one of the most common health conditions in the present time. Many people including teenagers are being affected by this disease worldwide. Easy availability of alcohol and certain drugs has pushed many people into addiction. Although both men and women are prone to developing this health condition, men are slightly more on the risky side.
Addiction, unlike other chronic diseases, is not so straight forward. Since it targets the brain and alters its entire structure, many researchers are still trying to understand the scope of this disease. Many treatment centers and rehabilitation facilities are established across the globe to help addicts get past their addictive traits. However, these correction facilities don’t guarantee a 100% recovery. Why?
Because addiction is an illness that can bounce back at any time. Patients who go through a rigorous treatment regime at rehabs may get a healthy routine induced into their lives, along with the importance of maintaining good health. However, a slight carelessness is all that it takes for the patient to relapse and fall back to addiction again. This complexity of addiction has encouraged many studies and research papers to come up and understand how this disease affects the brain and if and how it can be treated completely.
Addiction And The Studies
There is much data to validate that drugs such as heroin, marijuana, cocaine, meth, and nicotine manipulate the brain’s reward system. These drugs also associate themselves with the parts of the brain responsible for generating chemical signals. Various substances have varying effects on the brain, however, all of them affect the area of the brain involved in emotions. Further, frequent and chronic drug abuse is also directly linked to having poor mental performance and reduced brain activity. This causes the patient to not be able to use their brain to full capacity. As a result, they lose concentration, focus, and develop bad decision making.
All this leads to bad mental health that further grows to become even worse. So much so, that even after undergoing a treatment, the patient is always on the risk of relapsing. Various factors may cause a relapse including people or a certain memory associated with a place or a person.
Since this is well known to all the researchers, they are working towards finding a treatment method that can hopefully eliminate addiction. A study by Behavioral and Clinical Neuroscience Institute in Cambridge is aimed towards finding the role of addiction in habit-learning and the influence of memories on cravings. In their study, they hypothesize that drug cravings may be related to memories that may have been associated with the drugs. So, these memories can trigger a person’s urge to consume the moment they are experiencing the same situation as in their memories.
This memory-based treatment research is aimed towards finding a way to disrupt the cycle of addiction by affecting the formation of such memories. Many studies are also inspecting the genetic factors that may contribute to addiction. Using these study findings, it could be predicted if an individual is more vulnerable to addiction based on their genes.
Recovery From Addiction
Relapsing is very common in the addicts and is the reason why most people, even after treatment, choose the path of addiction again. A study conducted by John Hopkins University focused on the rate of relapsing in the addicts. According to the study, the average length of time addicts would take medications to treat addiction and its symptoms is 55 days. Also, a majority of people who stopped their medication after 55 days reported relapsing. The results are shocking because proper treatment should be conducted for months and even for years in some cases to successfully wear off addiction.
Another study by the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment explained a new concept to the recovery process called contingency management (CM). In this process, patients are rewarded for every recovery step they complete. One of the best things about CM is that it has spread across mediums that are easily available on smartphone apps or web-based platforms.
Scripps Research Institute revealed in a study that heroin-addicted rats are less likely to increase heroin consumption if electrical stimulations are given. If the results are satisfactory, further research on humans could potentially lead to the application of this technique to human patients. However, since this is a sensitive process, more research is needed to back the claims made.
After treatment at a rehabilitation center or any other medical facility has been completed, the patients return to their homes where aftercare becomes of utmost importance. Since addiction is a never-ending disease with a risk of coming back at any time, aftercare treatment has become very crucial.
A study by Services for the UnderServed explains these issues that the patients have to go through when they return after seeking treatment for their addiction. Their study claimed that nearly 37-56% of all the patients who went through a residential treatment program relapsed within just one year after the treatment ended. The relapse rate can easily be reduced if enough help is provided for those who move from inpatient treatment to their community.
The research also stated that:
- 62.5% of patients suffered from meeting the basic needs after coming back from rehab. The challenges can be financial or their living conditions.
- 46.9% of patients claimed they couldn’t find any support network inside of their communities.
- 40.6% addressed the issue that their friends at home were suffering from addiction.
- 34.4% of the patients agreed that the treatment program they went to lack the aftercare services which are essential for a complete and continuous recovery.
This research was aimed towards highlighting the lack of aftercare services by a majority of residential or inpatient treatment programs.
The complexity of addiction and the way it remains inside a patient for long makes it worth researching. Numerous studies are being conducted to bring in different treatment, recovery, and aftercare tips that may help the addicts get past their addictive traits once and for all.
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