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Substance use and addiction are very common diseases that can be treated with professional help and on-going care. It is globally acknowledged that the first step to addiction recovery for a person is accepting their substance dependency.

Whether the patient has a drug or alcohol or other kinds of substance use disorder, having a diagnosis and accepting one’s illness is very important. Diagnosis usually requires a group of professionals including a psychiatrist, a psychologist, and/or a licensed counselor. Even though blood, urine and other tests are nor diagnostic, they are used to assess substance use and they are often used in the process of treatment for monitoring and recovery.

Addiction treatment is usually a life-time treatment with different steps. Most patients are in-going patients for detoxification and rehabilitation phases where they spend some time in a clinic or a hospital. Detox is the first step in addiction treatment where the aim is to cleanse the body from the substance and limit withdrawal reactions with special treatment and medication. For detoxification, it is decided by doctors and professionals whether the patient is inpatient where they are admitted to a hospital or a treatment center or they are treated as outpatients. Different substances have different withdrawal affects and they need to be monitored closely.

The second step after detox is usually therapy and counseling. The needs of the individual is examined and a treatment plan is made with one-to-one sessions, group therapy or family sessions. Usually the therapy sessions start more frequent and gradually reduce over time as the patient improves. There are different types of therapy and counseling techniques and they are determined at the beginning of the treatment, where doctors determine the diagnosis and make a treatment plan special to each individual.

It is important for a substance user to enter a rehabilitation program and visit support and/or self-help groups regularly. Longer-term addiction treatment programs such as rehabilitation provide 7/24 care and safe accommodation where individuals are provided with necessary medication and assistance. Short-term residential treatments are usually 1-2 month check-ins where detox and later counseling is also provided. Residential treatments also prepares the individual for next steps of addiction treatment where one should be have a functional social, professional and family life.

Addiction is a chronic, life-long and complex disease that requires long-term treatment. It requires dedication, motivation and support. It is important for a person to acknowledge that they are indeed in need of treatment. It is also important to seek professional help because medication prescribed by doctors can help with withdrawal symptoms and help with sobriety.

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