How to Overcome a Chemical Dependency

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, almost everyone suffers from some form of chemical addiction. People are dependent on caffeine, nicotine, prescription drugs, and many others. Most of these are relatively harmless unless people take them too far. Over using and misusing chemicals, leads to a dangerous chemical dependency. Unfortunately, in some cases this dependency causes problems because you are dependent on the chemical getting off it is very difficult. There are a variety of ways to overcome a dependency.

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What is Dependency?

Scientists define a chemical dependency as habitual use of a mind or mood altering drug such as alcohol or cocaine. Unfortunately, when you are dependent on chemicals it often creates a need for them. When this need becomes uncontrollable, it creates problems in all aspects of life. This is often referred to as addiction for lack of a better term. An addiction is the general term for becoming dependent on something such as a drug or action. Dependency is generally specific to drugs. Most people use addiction and dependency interchangeably.

How Medications can Help

Chemical Dependency

Medication and therapy can help you overcome chemical dependency.

Medication is one way to overcome certain dependencies. After seeing a doctor about the addiction, the doctor might prescribe certain medications. These medications fall into three categories.

  • Medication replacement therapy – these are a set of medications doctors use to replace a drug or to stop withdrawal symptoms. The most common type of medication replacement therapy is opioid replacement. Doctors use methadone or another drug to take the place of the opiates.
  • Medication to treat symptoms – Some doctors use medication to treat the symptoms of withdrawal. Many withdrawal symptoms include psychological symptoms such as anxiety and depression and physical symptoms such as nausea and vomiting. Doctors help ease withdrawal by treating these symptoms.
  • Medication to treat the cause – most addictions are caused by something else. In the case of opiate addiction, pain is usually the cause. In the case of benzodiazepine addiction, anxiety or a mood disorder is often the cause. Some addictions are started by other disorders such as depression or stress. Each of these causes are treatable with medications.

Although not all addictions are treatable with medications, many of them benefit from it.


Most forms of dependency are at least treatable with counseling and therapy. There are several types of counseling available. These types are:

  • individual
  • group
  • cognitive
  • behavioral
  • family therapies

Psychologists, counselors, and therapists use different techniques to help you cope with dependency. They help find the cause and change the behaviors that cause the dependency. In some cases, they can also help mend the relationships destroyed by addiction as well.

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Other Options for Overcoming Dependency

A few of the other options for overcoming dependency are:

  • community therapy such as church groups
  • family support
  • intervention therapy
  • holistic therapies

Each one of these options can help. Many people combine the different forms of treatment in order to find the best solution for their dependency. Addiction or dependency treatment is not a once size fits all situation.

Inpatient Therapy

Inpatient therapy involves residential treatment for dependency. In a residential treatment center, you can find medication management, counseling, and other forms of therapy. One of the best benefits of inpatient therapy is in the restrictive environment you are away from your triggers. These triggers cause relapse.

Although inpatient therapy is expensive, it has allows you to both overcome the dependency and gives you a place to stay while you work out the problems that caused it and it has created. Another benefit of inpatient therapy is the 24 hour care and counseling. Most rehab centers have counselors and staff members to help both day and night. Some even have medical staff to help with a variety of addiction issues.

Outpatient Therapy

Outpatient therapy is similar to inpatient therapy only instead of living at the facility while dealing with the addiction you attend sessions with counselors and doctors daily, weekly, or monthly.

Outpatient therapy gives you all of the freedom that inpatient does not with the same quality of treatment. There are however some drawbacks to outpatient therapy. These are:

  • it is easy to relapse
  • no counseling at night which is when many people have problems
  • care is not coordinated like it is with inpatient care
  • you have less of an opportunity to bond with other patients
  • the care is expensive when combined

Some of the benefits of outpatient therapy are:

  • freedom to work or go to school while seeking treatment
  • it is less expensive than inpatient therapy
  • you have more of a selection when it comes to types of therapy
  • you have more access to family and friends for support

Outpatient therapy works best in situations where triggers and environment are not a problem. Most people choose it when they have family, work, or school obligations.

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Combination Therapy

According to the National Library of Medicine, a combination of treatment models works the best. By combining different treatments, it is possible to get the best therapy. One of the things to remember about overcoming chemical dependency is that no one treatment works for everyone. By combining treatments, it is possible to find the best of all worlds.

Overcoming chemical dependency is very difficult but it is possible. All of the different ways to get off drugs can seem daunting at first. It is important to remember that these are resources to help you. You just have to select the ones that you think will work the best for your situation.

the Take-Away

A dependency on chemical substances, including as narcotic drugs, can be overcome through the help of medication-replacement therapies and counseling and talking therapies.