Substance abuse is a growing problem in Australia, but it is not an insurmountable one. It is entirely possible to beat a harmful addiction. If you have developed an addiction, consider taking the following 3 steps to regain your freedom:
1. Seek Professional Help
It is extremely difficult to break the cycle of alcohol or drug addiction on your own. Once you’ve decided that you want to quit drinking or using drugs, it’s time to seek help from people who will actively support you in your decision to achieve sobriety.
In Australia, there are many available alcohol and drug treatment programs for you to take advantage of. Many of the best options are government funded. Some rehabilitation programs are operated by charitable organisations. There are also some private insurers who cover drug and alcohol addiction treatments. You can find a helpful list of relevant organisations and their phone numbers here on this page.
2. Understand the Best Methods for Beating Your Specific Type of Addiction
Addictions are not all created equal. Each type of addiction requires a slightly different approach for successful treatment.
Experts at the healthdirect website offer a guide to rehabilitation from alcohol abuse. According to them, rehabilitation might require hospital treatment, detoxification, counselling and, possibly, medication.
It might be possible to have Medicare cover some or all of the costs associated with these treatments. However, it is unfortunately common for people to endure long wait times through the public system. For faster service, you might want to consider researching your options for hospital cover through the private healthcare system. You’re invited to use our search engine to compare policies.
When you’re researching your options, look for a hospital cover policy that includes cover for psychiatric care plus alcohol rehabilitation programs. Ideally, the policy will cover in-patient visits, overnight visits, and day or evening programs. This will give you a broad range of options for seeking out a treatment program that meets your needs. Be aware that there may be out-of-pocket expenses that your health fund will not cover.
If medication is necessary, be sure to find out if it is covered under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS); if it is not, your private health fund may cover it under extras pharmacy cover. Don’t automatically assume this, however; since policies vary widely in what they will cover or not cover, it is wise to double check and make sure that non-PBS medicines are, indeed, covered under the policy you’ve chosen.
If you prefer to try a 12-step program, you can get in touch with Alcoholics Anonymous to attend their meetings. Their number is 1300 222 222.
Heroin and Other Opioids
Opioid drug abuse is a global problem, but the majority of the opioid addicts live in the United States. US scientists therefore have a head start on understanding the problem of opioid abuse and the methods that may be effective for solving it.
According to Scientific American, medical assisted treatment is the best currently-known method for beating a heroin addiction. Other methods, such as the counseling-only abstinence-based methods, which are effective for treating some other types of addictions, are completely ineffective in the case of opioid addictions. This is because opioids actually alter the human brain in ways that differ from the changes rendered by other types of addictive substances like alcohol and cocaine. Rehab cannot fix these opioid-induced changes that have been made to the brain once they have been allowed to happen.
The medical literature does suggest some other remedies that may be effective for treating certain aspects of heroin abuse, although more research is needed to confirm the extent of their effectiveness:
Nigella Sativa: One important human study indicates that nigella sativa, also known as “black cumin” and “black seed”, is useful for long-term treatment of opioid addiction. The researchers point out that this remedy is useful for significantly decreasing the withdrawal effects and also for healing the infections which frequently accompany opioid addictions.
St John’s Wort: One study indicates that St. John’s wort appears to be useful for curbing opioid dependency and easing withdrawal symptoms.
Electroacupuncture: One study suggests that electroacupuncture therapy is beneficial for helping opioid addicts cope with withdrawal symptoms.
Bacopa monnieri: Prolonged opioid abuse can result in damage to the liver and kidneys. One study suggests that an Ayurvedic remedy known as Bacopa monnieri may be useful for minimising the damage done to the opioid addicts’ vital organs.
Acupuncture and moxibustion: One animal study indicates that perhaps the procedures of acupuncture and moxibustion might be helpful for working towards healing the altered portions of the brain that result from opioid abuse.
There are multiple effective ways to quit using methamphetamine drugs. These include 12-step programs, inpatient rehab treatments, outpatient rehab treatments and counselling.
If you plan to pay for your treatment using private health insurance, you’ll want to make sure you have appropriate levels of cover. If you aren’t already enrolled in a health fund, you’ll want to consider choosing a hospital cover policy that includes cover for psychiatric care plus drug rehabilitation programs.
Hospital cover policies do not typically include outpatient treatments – so if you prefer to skip the hospital visit and get treated on an outpatient basis, you should choose an extras cover policy that specifically includes outpatient services. Keep in mind that Medicare will cover your GP visits, and Medicare might also, in some situations, cover specialist consultations if your GP has given you a referral. Do be aware that there may be out-of-pocket expenses that Medicare or your health fund may not cover. This is particularly true if there are medications you need that are not covered under the PBS, although your health fund may cover them under a separate extras cover policy, if you have one that specifically covers non-PBS medications.
If you prefer to try a 12-step program, you can get in touch with Narcotics Anonymous to attend their meetings. Their numbers are 1300 652 820 and 0448 811 247.
3. Take Steps to Stay Clean After Rehab
If You’re in Pain, Utilise Non-Addictive Methods of Pain Relief
It’s quite common for people to become addicted to painkillers that their doctor prescribed for them. If you started taking drugs because you were in an accident or other situation that caused you chronic pain, it is possible that the pain might still be an issue for you. This situation leaves you vulnerable to a relapse if you resume using the same painkillers that you became addicted to.
Be aware that, according to one study conducted in the United States, opioid pain relievers can actually prolong the pain from an accident or injury by several weeks. For this reason, and also because of their addictive nature, it is wise to avoid them and seek out other types of pain relief.
Physiotherapy, therapeutic massage, chiropractic therapy or acupuncture may be appropriate. If you maintain an extras cover health insurance policy through a private health fund, your insurance may provide chiro cover or physio cover, assuming your treatments are deemed to be medically necessary and you have chosen a policy that provides appropriate levels of cover.
Medical marijuana might also be an option in certain circumstances, although it is highly regulated in Australia.
Find Your New Mission in Life
Boredom is one of the most common reasons for habitual substance abuse. If boredom was your primary reason for drinking or abusing drugs, you will need to find an activity that negates the boredom and fills your empty hours with something else enjoyable.
Make New, Drug-Free Friends
Many rehabilitated addicts succeed in remaining sober because they surround themselves with people who do not drink or take drugs. Perhaps you might consider joining a church, mosque, synagogue, civic group or other organisation where you will find a supportive network of like-minded people to spend time with. Alternatively, you could reconnect with old friends from school or former work colleagues who are drug free.
Distance Yourself From Your Old Friends
Many former addicts find that their old friends are unable to accept that they are now living a drug-free life. Their old friends will continue to bring them drugs and entice them to get high.
If you find yourself in this situation, it will be up to you to put distance between yourself and these people, because they will pose an ongoing threat to your sobriety. The experts at recovery.org recommend changing your phone number and deleting your dealer’s phone number from your phone. You might also wish to consider moving house and cutting all ties with people who refuse to respect your choice to remain sober.
It is possible to beat a harmful addiction and regain your freedom. We hope the information we’ve shared will be helpful to you if you’re seeking effective strategies to rid yourself of an addiction and make a fresh start.