Withdrawal programs assist young people to safely reduce their drug or alcohol use. They are sometimes called 'detoxification' or 'detox' programs.
These programs can last up to 21 days in a treatment centre, a hospital or under supervision at home. They usually provide the following:
- Medication to relieve withdrawal symptoms.
- Emotional support and counselling.
- Information about long-term treatment.
- Some also provide massage, herbs or acupuncture to assist with withdrawal symptoms.
Methadone and other 'substitution therapies'
These treatments, called `substitution therapy', involve replacing an illegal drug such as heroin with a longer acting drug that is given under medical supervision, such as methadone or buprenorphine.
The aim of these treatments is to reduce the craving for drugs or alcohol and to assist the young person to stabilize their life.
These treatments will usually only be given if a young person has been using drugs heavily for some time and has had no success with other treatment programs.
Some local doctors are able to give these treatments or you can get them through local drug and alcohol treatment centres or hospitals.
Residential rehabilitation programs
These programs provide long-term treatment in a house or units, often in country areas. They are for:
- young people who have severe addiction problems.
- who need to remove themselves from their day to day life to be able to start again.
Young people in these programs are expected to participate in work, physical fitness and recreational programs as well as intensive individual and group therapy.
The length of time for these programs varies with some lasting for up to two years. Most require people to have been through a withdrawal program before entering long-term treatment.
Counselling for drug and alcohol problems is provided by health professionals at drug and alcohol counselling centres, community health centres, some local councils and youth services.
Counsellors can work with people to help them:
- Learn how to use drugs safely.
- Decide on the best treatment programs for them if they want to stop using drugs or alcohol.
- Deal with the problems that may be contributing to their drug or alcohol use.
- Teach them ways to manage stress.
- Assist them to make and maintain changes in their lives.
Dual diagnosis counselling and outreach services
Dual diagnosis workers provide advice and support to young people who have both mental health and drug and alcohol problems.
Self-help group support programs
Groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous provide group support for drug and alcohol users and are available in most areas throughout Australia.
Support and information is provided by people who have had problems with alcohol or drug use in the past. Some people find attending these groups helps them stay off drugs or alcohol.
Services for families
In many areas there are also self-help groups for family members of drug users. These include Family Drug Help, Al-Anon and Parent Education programs.
Family counselling services for people affected by their children's drug or alcohol use are also available. See Resources.
Culturally appropriate services
It can be difficult for people from non-English speaking backgrounds to access culturally sensitive alcohol and drug treatment services. The government has been making efforts in recent years to change this.
Many treatment programs have now built strong partnerships with multicultural community agencies and some have employed staff from non-English speaking backgrounds who can speak more than one language.
Your local council should be able to advise you of treatment services that have workers employed from your cultural background or who have links to culturally appropriate support services.
Recovery takes Time
If your child has been using drugs or alcohol heavily for some time, it may take a long time for them to stop using.
Some young people who are drug or alcohol dependent go through many treatment programs before they fully recover. Be patient. There is no quick fix for this problem.
Don't encourage your child to suddenly stop using drugs or alcohol altogether if they have been using heavily. Stopping heavy drug or alcohol use suddenly can be dangerous.
When your young person is ready to reduce or stop their drug use, make sure they get medical help and are assisted to come off drugs in the safest way possible.
You should always call '000' if you are concerned that your child may have taken an overdose, for example if they are having trouble breathing, they collapse or are unconscious.
Learning First Aid for dealing with overdoses is a good idea if you feel your young person is at risk.