Treatment of substance abuse problems and behavioural addictions
If you find your substance use or compulsive behaviour problematic, you can try to reduce or stop it by yourself. Help and support from your loved ones usually improves your chances of success. That’s why you should talk to them even if you are ashamed about your substance use or compulsive behaviour. Or you can contact a support group where you can talk to people with similar problems.
If you can’t put a stop to your behaviour by yourself, you can book an appointment with student healthcare. Your problem will be assessed and a treatment plan created together with you. When drawing up a treatment plan, it is important that you define the treatment aim yourself – whether you want to reduce or stop your substance use or reduce the harm it causes. Treatment will be determined according to your aims. When treating substance abuse problems and behavioural addictions, recovery is usually slowed down by relapses. The change is not linear but we learn by trial and error. Individual relapses do not spell failure, and you should see them as learning opportunities on how to avoid them in similar circumstances in the future.
Some substance abuse problems and behavioural addictions are treated in student healthcare, but more severe dependencies, withdrawal syndromes, confusional states, substance-induced psychoses and amnesia-related disorders require specialised care (at outpatient clinics for addiction psychiatry) or referral to specialised substance abuse services (A Clinics). Student healthcare can refer you to appropriate treatment centres/units or, if you have alcohol-related problems, for online psychotherapy.
Building trust between the patient and healthcare staff is the cornerstone of treatment. You’ll be given advice on harm reduction and information about treatment aims and options, according to your needs and interests. Together with a healthcare worker, you can discuss what changes you’d be willing to make and what kind of help you’d need to achieve them.
Psychotherapeutic methods and in some cases short-term or long-term psychotherapy are used to treat substance abuse problems and behavioural addictions. In certain substance abuse problems and behavioural addictions, treatment results can be improved by combining psychotherapeutic treatment with medication. Medication can reduce the pleasurable effects of the substance, prevent withdrawal symptoms or prevent its use altogether. Medication is often used to alleviate withdrawal symptoms at the beginning of the treatment process.
Support groups such as AA, NA and GA can be a big help to some people during the recovery process. Treatment can often be started and provided in an outpatient setting, but severe dependencies and withdrawal symptoms may require inpatient care to ensure safe treatment.