Addiction Is a Progressive Disease

istock_000012354150xsmall“Why doesn’t he just stop drinking?” “Why does she keep using heroin if she knows the consequences?” People can ask these questions when they see someone struggling with substance abuse—they may think that if a person recognizes the dangers, they should be able to stop. But it’s not that simple.

Addiction is not a choice that is made and can be stopped by the simple desire to quit. Research has shown that addiction is a disease. It affects the brain in staggering ways, making the cravings and the reliance on drugs or alcohol involuntary.

Most drugs target the reward center of the brain. When someone uses a drug, dopamine is released and floods their brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that signals pleasure and reward. When an action causes dopamine levels to rise, the person is motivated to repeat that action. In this case, when the use of a drug causes a person to feel pleasure, they are motivated to use the drug again to replicate the feeling. Compulsive cravings start occurring, and the person becomes addicted.

Over the long term, the flood of dopamine from the use of drugs or alcohol causes the brain to slow the natural production of dopamine and/or reduce its response to the dopamine. This can further the addiction, as the person now needs the drug to feel pleasure and happiness.

Addiction not only affects and alters the reward center of the brain but also causes changes to other parts of the brain. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the use of drugs and alcohol affects the parts of the brain responsible for learning, memory, habits, impulse inhibition, decision making, cognitive awareness, mood, and stress reactivity. These changes to a person’s brain chemistry can contribute to the continuing use of drugs and alcohol. It is hard for an addicted person to simply use “willpower” to quit when so many vital cognitive functions have been affected.

rrw2016-ribbonThis Red Ribbon Week (October 23–31), Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers want to encourage others to recognize that addiction is a disease, not a choice, and to take steps to reduce both the stigma and the problem. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, remember that it is not as simple as just making the decision to quit. As with other diseases, professional help is often needed to recover. For more information about the effects of drug abuse and treatment options, visit RecoverGateway.org.

Choosing A Substance Abuse Treatment Center

ARE YOU SEEKING DRUG ABUSE TREATMENT? KNOW WHAT QUESTIONS TO ASK.

seeking substance abuse treatment, questions to askTo assist someone in finding the best possible treatment for substance abuse, it’s recommended that you ask the following types of questions to learn more about a provider’s level of expertise and services. Below are several helpful questions to consider asking during your search, many which are recommended by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

WHAT KIND OF TREATMENT PROGRAMS DOES THE ALCOHOL AND DRUG REHAB CENTER OFFER?

Different treatment centers call themselves by different names. In order to sort through the industry terminology and acronyms, you should know that there are generally only three categories of programs a center will fall into: residential or inpatient treatment, day/night treatment or partial hospitalization and outpatient treatment.

Gateway Treatment Centers offer a full continuum of care to treat alcohol and substance abuse as well as co-occurring disorders. With nine convenient treatment centers – located in Chicago, throughout the state of Illinois and near St. Louis–Gateway meets individual needs through our residential, outpatient and day/night programs.

DOES THE PROGRAM TAILOR TREATMENT TO THE NEEDS OF EACH PATIENT?

No single treatment is right for everyone. The best treatment addresses a person’s various needs, not just his or her drug abuse.

We offer a comprehensive approach to treating substance abuse, which includes responding to the unique biological, psychological, social and familial issues of men and women. On average, Gateway’s programs have a 10% higher successful treatment completion rate when compared to other Treatment Providers.*

 IS THE PROGRAM EFFECTIVE AT ADDRESSING MENTAL HEALTH AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE ISSUES?

Addressing underlying mental health concerns is an important part of substance abuse treatment. Programs that offer integrated treatment plans are recommended so an individual’s substance abuse and mental health (co-occurring) problems are addressed concurrently.

Gateway is a recognized leader among behavioral health care providers in offering substance abuse treatment, as well as treatment for individuals that are diagnosed with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse problems. With more than 40 years of treatment experience, our professional staff provides you with the individualized care needed to treat co-occurring disorders to ensure lasting recovery.

WHAT TYPE OF ACCREDITATION OR LICENSING DOES THE TREATMENT CENTER HAVE?

Addiction treatment centers must be licensed by the state government agency that oversees them and should be accredited by The Joint Commission.

All Gateway Treatment Centers are licensed by the state of Illinois and accredited by The Joint Commission, just as the hospitals in your community are accredited. Specially trained health care professionals who are experts in the field personally visited our centers to conduct a review that monitors how well the staff performs services and protects clients.

CAN YOU PLEASE SHARE YOUR CLIENT SATISFACTION RATING?

A treatment center should be able to tell you the most current level of client satisfaction.

  •  At Gateway Treatment Centers, we are proud of our track record of success. In fact, satisfaction ratings from Gateway alumni and their families are more than 90%.*
  • And 9 out of 10 clients would refer Gateway for drug abuse treatment to a family member or friend.*
DO YOU WORK WITH INSURANCE COMPANIES?

You should understand up front what is covered under your healthcare benefits so there are no surprises. Since this may be tedious and time consuming, it’s a good idea to have someone familiar with the process help you.

At Gateway Treatment Centers, your insurance co-pay and deductibles go further. We are a preferred, or in-network provider, for most benefit plans. We accept Blue Cross/Blue Shield, United Behavioral Health and Aetna to name just a few.Our knowledgeable and dedicated staff is here to help you understand what services are covered by insurance to pay the cost of alcohol and drug treatment for you or your loved one.

HOW LONG DO YOU EXPECT TREATMENT TO LAST?

Remaining in treatment for the right period of time is critical. The type of treatment and duration should be based on factors such as personal background, types of abused drugs and a person’s support system. One-size-fits-all treatment programs are not recommended.

At Gateway we know the duration of treatment varies based on the extent of a person’s substance abuse history and dedication to recovery. Our treatment plans are tailored to meet the specific needs of each individual and our goal is to provide each person with education, counseling and therapy needed to live a life free of drugs or alcohol.

In Gateway’s Intensive Outpatient treatment program, individuals participate in group and family counseling sessions several times per week. One-on-one counseling sessions also occur with their primary counselor. Treatment is usually four sessions per week that are three hours each, based on an individual’s needs. Most individuals remain in an Intensive Outpatient Program for four to six weeks before transitioning into less intense weekly Aftercare sessions. Although outpatient treatment may work for many people, should residential or inpatient treatment be necessary, two to four weeks is typical.

DOES THE PROGRAM USE TREATMENTS BACKED BY SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE?

Effective drug abuse treatments can include behavioral therapy, medications or ideally a combination of treatments.

Gateway focuses on providing the most effective therapies and clinical approaches throughout an individual’s treatment, including the use of evidence-based practices. Evidence-based practices are drug and alcohol treatments that integrate professional research and clinical expertise to achieve the best outcome for an individual and are proven to work.

Gateway centers also offer medication assisted treatment as part of our comprehensive substance abuse treatment programs. This effective treatment option assists individuals with modifying their behavior to make better lifestyle changes for long-term success. These medications can help reduce or eliminates cravings, decreases withdrawal symptoms and reduce the risk of relapse.

IS THERE ONGOING SUPPORT AFTER LEAVING TREATMENT?

You want to find a provider that offers support after treatment is completed, such as aftercare, alumni programs and recovery groups.

Gateway is committed to providing you a full range of care, and that includes providing support after you’ve completed one of our programs. At the end of treatment, you will be referred to weekly Aftercare sessions. Aftercare includes counseling sessions that help you move from active treatment to coaching, developing effective relapse-prevention plans, support through recovery group involvement and access to Gateway’s life-long recovery support in our Alumni Program.

WHAT TYPE OF HELP IS AVAILABLE FOR FAMILIES?

The treatment center should offer family programs that include counseling and education.

Gateway recognizes the immediate and long-term benefits to individuals in recovery when their families are involved in treatment, and engages families in counseling and substance abuse education programs. Our Family Programs are designed to answer the questions families have and to help parents, spouses, siblings and significant others learn how to better cope with the substance abuse issues of loved ones in treatment.

Click here for more questions you should ask when seeking substance abuse treatment.

*(Based on information reported by the IL Department of Human Services Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse).

*As reported from Press Ganey an independent organization which gathers post-treatment surveys from Gateway clients and provides unbiased reports on levels of customer satisfaction.

 

Now Covered: Treatment for Substance Abuse Enters Primary Care Arena

alcohol or drug issues, healthcareFinancial barriers are a big reason individuals generally prolong seeking professional treatment for alcohol and drug abuse issues. However, that barrier is no longer an issue for hundreds of thousands of Americans. That’s because treatment for substance abuse is now recognized as one of the 10 essential health benefits covered by health insurance per the provisions of The Affordable Care Act.

As of January 1, 2014, hundreds of thousands of Americans who need help working through addiction issues now have access to professional treatment via health insurance.

In this new era of healthcare, it is more important than ever for individuals to practice preventative health care management to promote healthy aging. And, while it may be tempting to twist the truth about how many drinks you consume each week, it is in your best interest to be honest because you just may learn something new like:    

  • Where you range on the scale between moderate and binge drinking.
  • The risks associated with the use of prescribed medications, especially opioids.
  • How symptoms of anxiety or depression may relate to alcohol or drug use. 
  • Why you need to be extra vigilant about adhering to moderate drinking if a family history of alcoholism exists.

 Make the most of your medical check-ups by being honest about your alcohol and drug use because an open dialogue with your healthcare professional is just what the doctor ordered.

If alcohol or drug use is a problem for you or a loved one, Gateway Treatment Centers offer Outpatient Treatment Programs available in the morning and evening hours and centers located throughout Illinois, including Chicago. To learn more about our free, confidential consultation, please call Gateway at 877-505-HOPE (4673) or visit RecoverGateway.org.

 

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