Rehabilitation from drug addiction is a complex process. It involves commitment from the individual addict to abstain from further drug use. The physical dependence on the drug needs to be overcome through medical intervention. Medical supervision is essential to safely detoxify an addicted individual. Safety is an issue since sudden withdrawal of a drug will lead to very profound physiological changes that can be very uncomfortable and can sometimes be life threatening. The range of drugs abused is wide but general principles apply to drug and alcohol rehabilitation.
After the medical detoxification process, which is often in an inpatient setting, a program to continue the rehab process as an outpatient is essential. Sometimes replacement drugs are needed such as methadone maintenance programs where patients are given methadone to replace the heroin that is abused. The methadone helps prevent the euphoria and at the same time decreases the craving that is central to addiction. A typical dose that may work is 30-60 milligrams of methadone daily but this is variable and depends on the intensity of addiction among other factors. Alcohol rehab often involves an acute hospital based detoxification where a thorough medical assessment is done and then drugs belonging to the class called benzodiazepines are given to prevent withdrawal. Medical issues are often the main reason an addict enters a treatment entry point.
After this acute phase an outpatient 12 step program such as Alcoholics Anonymous is critical to maintain abstinence. Many patients who are addicted to drugs have co-morbid psychiatric conditions like depression that need to be addressed. Others have HIV/AIDS, which also need to be managed if a lasting solution is needed. Many rehab programs are covered by insurance and charity. They also have social workers who will help with the practical aspects of getting back to a productive life.
Above all, the commitment of the individuals working in the program helps sustain and develop faith and trust in the system since addicts are often marginalized members of society.