What kind of help is available?
In line with Australia's National Drug Strategy, many treatment services follow the harm minimisation approach. This means that they work to reduce the harms caused by drug use, rather than on the drug use itself.
It is ideal for people to stop using drugs altogether, but sometimes this is not possible, and instead they can work on reducing the problems associated with their drug use.
There are a number of different types of help available, and they are often combined. They usually include:
Withdrawal or detoxification (also known as detox) is a process of stopping the use of a drug while minimising unpleasant symptoms and the risks of harm. Read more about withdrawal.
Substitution pharmacotherapy is the use of medication to replace harmful drug use. This will be a legal, measured, prescribed dose of a drug which helps take away cravings so that you can work on other issues that will help you to recover. Some examples of these are buprenorphine, methadone and naltrexone which are used in the treatment of opioid dependence.
Pharmacotherapy is not available for withdrawal from all drugs. Your doctor, or an alcohol and drug information service, can give you more information about what is available to help you.
This is the most common kind of treatment. It can be provided individually, or in a group situation, and is available both to people who use drugs, and to their family members or support people.
There are several different types of counselling approaches which might be offered to you:
Rehabilitation programs take a long term approach to treatment to help you achieve a drug-free lifestyle.
Residential programs can last from a few weeks to a number of years, and no withdrawal medication is provided in the centres, so it is very important that you have already successfully completed your detoxification treatment.
Residential withdrawal is also available from some treatment services.
These include treatments such as massage and relaxation therapies, which can be useful to help you manage withdrawal symptoms. Some herbal or natural remedies can also help, but you should first seek advice from your doctor, an alcohol and drug information service, a naturopath, or other complementary therapist.
These programs are provided both for people who use drugs, and their family members or support persons.They are usually established by people who have had personal experience with alcohol or other drugs, and are often based on the Twelve-step program model. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are two examples of these.
A range of social support services can help you to access housing, financial, legal, general health, dental and other assistance.
Services are available to support those who have been affected by the alcohol or other drug use of a family member. As well as providing understanding, these services can also provide information about how best to help during treatment.
Last updated: 30 June 2012
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