Addiction isn’t a life-long fate, but overcoming it takes strength, patience and, in most cases, professional support. Treatment options for addiction depend on the individual.
Alcohol, tablets, mobile phones, cannabis – you can be addicted to a lot of things. Mentally, physically – or both. Addiction is a serious illness, but it is treatable.
The type of addiction support needed by an individual depends on the situation:
Sometimes, all it takes is a self-help group or outpatient addiction treatment. In the event of long-term or extreme addictive behaviour, successfully quitting may require inpatient addiction treatment. One thing all addiction problems have in common is that quitting is a learning process and that it starts with a desire to stop. Relapses are part of this. Dealing with these is an important step in inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment.
Addiction can take many different forms. The hardest step is recognising your own addictive behaviour and its consequences. Only then can you overcome alcohol addiction, or quit a shopping or mobile phone addiction. The same applies to seeking help for drug addiction: for instance, overcoming a cocaine addiction or addressing a cannabis addiction. A crisis can often serve as a wake-up call – e.g. a breakdown or losing one’s job. And then? Who can provide you with the support you need?
Michel Sutter became an addict at the age of 15. He spent time in a rehab clinic but suffered a relapse. Now an addiction coach, he explains in the video what finally helped him overcome his drug and alcohol addiction.
The important thing is to get professional help and seek advice. The first port of call is an addiction counselling centre, your GP or a self-help group.
How does addiction counselling work? And what does it cost?
Addiction counselling is all about examining your personal situation. What stage of addiction are you at? Together with the specialist, those affected can find out what goals they want to achieve and what will help them do so. Is withdrawal treatment necessary? Is inpatient addiction treatment indicated? Addiction counselling is generally free, to ensure that it is accessible to all.
Self-help groups and other self-help options can be a huge support for people with addictive disorders – but also for their family members.
The person with the addiction must themselves believe in addiction treatment and be motivated to start it. Those affected spend a lot of time going back and forth between an intense desire for the addictive substance and the urge to stop. The aim is to motivate the person in their own interest.
If someone has a severe substance use disorder – consuming large amounts and suffering from withdrawal symptoms or the consequences of addiction – medically supervised treatment is urgently advised. Whether or not inpatient or outpatient treatment is suitable depends on the situation of the person affected. Inpatient treatment means that you go into a specialist clinic for addiction treatment. Outpatient addiction treatment involves attending an addiction counselling centre or addiction clinic on a regular basis.
The aim of addiction treatment is to help those affected to resume an autonomous and fulfilling life: with psychotherapy or medication, but also with accompanying measures such as exercise, relaxation and alternative medicine. For instance, some addiction clinics offer hypnotherapy. Hypnosis isn’t a cure for alcohol addiction or other addictive disorders, but it can help.
Can you overcome alcohol addiction alone? Or cure yourself of a prescription drug addiction? This is not advisable. Going cold turkey without support, i.e. the abrupt complete cessation of the use of substances like alcohol, opiates, benzodiazepines or other potentially addictive substances, is dangerous. Left untreated, withdrawal symptoms can sometimes be life-threatening.
Withdrawal refers to the process of physical detoxification. This is always just the first step in treating addiction. After that, it’s a question of dealing with normal everyday life and developing healthy strategies for coping with stress, crises and emotions. Psychotherapy, self-help groups and addiction counselling can help with this.
Relapses are painful and frustrating, but they are part of the process. They indicate where there is still work to do. An emergency plan for crises can help.
The specialist in psychiatry and psychotherapy provided the editorial team with advice and input for this article. Angelika Lüchinger-Birrer is director of the day clinic and outpatient department of Forel Klinik in Zurich. The addiction specialist doctor is also deputy medical director of inpatient care at the Forel Klinik in Ellikon a. d. Thur.
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