Is there a permanent cure for drug and alcohol addiction?
Is There a Cure for Drug and Addiction?
It’s natural for many addicts and their loved ones to wonder if there’s a cure for alcoholism and drug addiction.
Unfortunately, the short answer is no, at least not if you’re thinking of a cure in the traditional way.
Recovery is lifelong
Since there is no cure for drug and alcohol addiction, there is also never a 100 percent guarantee against relapsing. However, the good news is that addiction is highly treatable. It’s sometimes compared to diseases, such as diabetes. Those affected by diabetes live healthy lives as long as they properly monitor their glucose sugar intake and take their insulin every day. Similarly, those affected by alcoholism and addiction to drugs can do the same if they take the necessary steps on a regular basis.
After rehabilitation, as long as you maintain a support network through an after-care group such as a 12-Step program or SMART Recovery and stay away from triggers, you will probably do quite well.
By definition, addiction is actually the inability to stop once you start with dire consequences. It often begins with a lie such as, “I can do a little this time.”
The other two common signs of both Alcoholism and Drug Addiction include:
- Intense cravings and a persistent desire to drink and/or use
- Feeling negative emotions much of the time when you don’t drink and/or use
It is important to note that just because someone binges on alcohol or substances doesn’t always mean they’re addicted. In fact, some people often referred to as “hard partiers” are known to run into trouble with alcohol or drugs. With them, however, it’s temporary until a dire consequence comes their way. Once it does, they stop and don’t look back. Addicts, unfortunately, are not able to do that on their own.
The people who are at the highest risk of developing an addiction are usually those who drinking alcohol and/or using drugs at a young age. Regular binging in and of itself also can easily lead to it. When alcohol or drugs are first used, depending on whether it’s a stimulant or a depressant, they imitate the brain’s natural chemical messengers and flood the reward circuit. In doing so, they fool the receptors, lock onto them and stimulate the nerve cells.
It can fairly quickly get to a point where those neurotransmitters won’t recycle normally. That’s when dependency occurs. Dependency is what leads to addiction. The individual starts to require more and more of the substance just to function. Without professional help and proper support, it eventually becomes fatal.
Some signs that you or someone you know is having trouble with drug and/or alcohol dependency/addiction include:
- fellow drinkers and/or users making up most or all of your social circle
- completely neglecting your hygiene needs
- erratic eating and sleeping patterns
- trouble at work, school, or the law
- losing interest in favorite activities and/or people you once cared about
- more problems with family members and/or friends from your previous social circle
- riding with someone who’s using or been drinking or driving when you’ve been using or drinking
- turning to alcohol or drugs as a primary coping mechanism
- using or drinking in secret
- family members and previous friends worrying about your using and/or drinking
Resulting Brain and Organ Damage
One of the lesser-known effects of addiction is that it can also lead to permanent brain and/or organ damage. If this happens to you or has happened to someone you know, you’re probably familiar with how alarming it is. It can serve as a strong motivation to get your addiction treated and a desperate wish that there was a cure for drug and alcohol addiction.
If you’re to a point where you can’t function without drugs or alcohol, you are urged to seek a nearby drug and alcohol detox center near you as soon as possible.
Resulting brain damage can be:
- lack of oxygen being able to reach the brain tissue
- serious damage or a permanent fatality to brain cells and their receptors
- alterations to the chemicals in and from the brain, including hormone
Heart damage is also not uncommon from drugs. Liver damage is common with alcoholism.
Medications Used to Treatment Alcoholism
The following medications are not a cure for alcohol addiction but they have been found to be effective in helping to treat it.
Acamprosate helps to alleviate cravings for alcohol. Unfortunately, it doesn’t help with withdrawal symptoms.
Naltrexone works the same way as Acamprosate. It’s not recommended for those with damaged livers.
Vivitrol is the injectable version of Naltrexone but lasts longer.
One well-known example of a Benzodiazepine is Valium. These are commonly administered by drug and alcohol detox staff to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms. They stimulate the GABA receptors in the brain.
SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors)
Prozac and Zoloft are two well-known SSRIs. They primarily help treat depression, which is common in alcoholics.
Baclofen is an anticonvulsant and is used mostly by detox staff to help reduce tremors, muscle spasms, and seizures related to withdrawal.
Medications Used to Treat Drug Addiction
Some of the same medications used to treat alcoholism are also used to treat drug addiction. The following are some of the others that are not a cure for drug addiction but are effective in helping to treat it.
Works the same way as Naltrexone. However, it’s an opioid with a ceiling for that effect meant to gradually wean the addict off the drug.
Bupropion has been shown to be effective with depression and smoking cessation. Its use is currently being studied with cocaine use. The results have been mixed so far. However, one study has found that Bupropion combined with a 12-step program has been at least somewhat effective.
Suboxone, known for treating heroin addiction, works to block the opiate receptors that lead to the urge to use. However, it’s not recommended for long-term use.
Other Prevention Tips
Remember that there is no cure for drug and alcohol addiction in the traditional sense. Recovery is lifelong and requires certain support maintenance to prevent relapse. Again, these are not a cure for alcohol addiction or a cure for drug addiction. However, here are some other things that can you can do to prevent yourself from relapsing.
Therapy on a regular basis
Many addicts have difficult thoughts that they were previously using the substance to escape from. In fact, addiction and past abuse often go together. Many people think that therapy is unnecessary once they make it to a few months without alcohol or drugs. However, aside from the 12-Step programs and SMART Recovery, therapy can act as a buffer for when you start to crave again.
Stay away from triggers
For alcoholics, this primarily means staying away from bars, alcohol stores, and people who are fellow drinkers. For drug addicts, this primarily means staying away from fellow users and certain environments, such as crack houses. Even if you don’t intend to use or drink, you could get the urge and buy into the “I can do a little this time” lie.
Let yourself process your feelings
It is common for many addicts to feel sad or sickened. These feelings are only temporary. If you try to escape them the way you have been before, they will only keep trying to come back until you pay attention to them. Sometimes the only way out is through.
Develop a healthy hobby
Many addicts complain of constant boredom. To help with that, you can develop a hobby such as reading, art, hanging out with non-drinking and non-using friends, volunteering, or going to the movies.
If you or a loved one is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, Enlightened Solutions Detox is based in New Jersey. We focus on healing the whole person, and we customize clients’ treatment plans to suit their specific needs. For more information about our program, contact us today at 833-233-7336.