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Club Drugs (cont.)

Treatment of Club Drug Abuse and Dependence

An unfortunate fact about the treatment of club drug and other street drug addiction is that it remains largely unutilized by most substance dependence sufferers. Less than 10% of people with a substance-abuse disorder and less than 40% of those with a substance-dependence disorder seek treatment. Those statistics do not seem to be associated with socioeconomic or other demographic factors but do seem to be associated with the presence of other mental health problems (co-morbidity).

The primary goals for the treatment of addiction symptoms (also called recovery) are abstinence, relapse prevention, and rehabilitation. During the initial stage of abstinence, an individual who suffers from club drug addiction or other chemical dependency may need help avoiding or lessening the effects of withdrawal. That process is called detoxification or detox. That aspect of treatment is usually performed in a hospital or other inpatient setting, where medications used to lessen withdrawal symptoms and frequent medical monitoring can be provided. The medications used for detox are determined by the substance the individual is dependent upon. As with many drugs of abuse, the detox process from stimulants like cocaine, Ritalin, and Ephedrine is the most difficult aspect of coping with the physical symptoms of addiction and tends to last for days. Medications that are sometimes used to help stimulant addicts abstain from drug use include propranolol (Inderal, Inderal LA, InnoPran XL), which decreases some of the physical symptoms associated with withdrawal from stimulants, as well as vigabatrin (Sabril), a medication that treats seizures.

Often, much more challenging and time consuming than recovery from the physical aspects of addiction to some substances is psychological addiction. For people who may have less severe club drug dependency, the symptoms of psychological addiction may be able to be managed in an outpatient treatment program. However, those who have a more severe addiction, have relapsed after participation in outpatient programs or who also suffer from a severe mental illness might need the higher level of structure, support, and monitoring provided in an inpatient drug-treatment center, sometimes called "rehab." Following such inpatient treatment, many club drug addicts may benefit from living in a sober-living community, that is, a group-home setting where counselors provide continued sobriety support and structure on a daily basis.

Also important in the treatment of club drug addiction is helping the parents, other family members, and friends of the addicted person refrain from supporting addictive behaviors (codependency). Whether providing financial support, making excuses, or failing to acknowledge the addictive behaviors of the addict, discouraging such codependency of loved ones is a key component to the recovery of the affected individual. A focus on the addicted person's role in the family becomes perhaps even more acute when that person is a child or teenager, given that minors come within the context of a family in nearly every instance. Drug dependency treatment for children and adolescents differs further from that in adults by the younger addict's tendency to need help completing their education and achieving higher education or job training compared to adult addicts who may have completed those parts of their lives before developing the addiction.

There are numerous individual treatments for club drug addiction. Relapse prevention uses methods for recognizing and amending problem behaviors. Individualized drug counseling specifically emphasizes short-term behavioral goals in an attempt to help the individual reduce or stop the use of the substance altogether. Cognitive therapy techniques, like helping the individual recognize what tends to precede and follow their episodes of drug use, are often used to address this problem. Some treatment programs include drug testing. Twelve-step recovery programs like Narcotics Anonymous are individualized drug-counseling methods. Motivational enhancement therapy encourages the person suffering from club drug addiction to increase their desire to participate in therapy. Stimulus control refers to a treatment method that teaches the drug dependent person to stay away from situations that are associated with drug use and to replace those situations with activities that are contrary to using drugs. Urge control is an approach to changing patterns that lead to drug use.

While group therapy can help teens stay sober, groups that include a number of teens who also engage in disordered behaviors can actually tend to increase drug use in this age group. Family interventions for drug dependence that tend to be effective for teens include multidimensional family therapy (MDFT), group therapy, and multifamily educational intervention (MFE). MDFT has been found to be quite effective. Longer-term residential treatment, often called rehab, of three to five months that addresses peer relationships, educational problems, and family issues is often used in treating drug use in teens.

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