Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know when to take action? What is addiction and how do I go about getting into treatment? We answer the relevant questions and provide a summary of our approach in the following Addiction FAQ section.

How long is the Recovery Outcomes programme?

The programme runs for 24 months. Shorter periods are less likely to get you into recovery as showed by relapse rates. Engaging in a process for a longer time gives your brain a better chance of recovery. Interaction will be frequent for the first 90 days, and depending on progress, will become less frequent.

How does the Recovery Outcomes programme work?

At the initial assessment, we will ask you a series of questions about the frequency of your drug or alcohol use, including the impact it is having on your life. We will also enquire about other medical and psychiatric problems. This assessment will take a little longer than follow-up visits.

At each follow-up visit, your Recovery Outcomes nurse will complete a brief assessment to check your progress. Your nurse will highlight risk areas such as stress, relationship problems or psychiatric problems. Following this, he or she will perform a urine test (or arrange a blood test). You will also receive some brief support counselling. Finally, a brief report is sent to your psychiatrist, psychologist, family member or employer (depending on who you want to include). If there are any significant risks or relapse, we will contact your support and therapists. The next visit will be arranged depending on your risk of relapse and need for support. This will continue for 24 months.

What is addiction?

Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing brain disease. It is characterised by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain – they change its structure and how it works. These brain changes can be long-lasting, and may lead to the harmful behaviours as seen in people who abuse drugs (NIDA).

Can drug addiction be cured or prevented?

As with most other chronic diseases, such as diabetes, asthma, or heart disease, treatment for drug addiction generally isn’t a cure. However, addiction is treatable and can be successfully managed. People recovering from an addiction will be at risk for relapse for years and possibly for their whole lives. Research shows that combining addiction treatment medicines, with behavioral therapy, ensures the best chance of success for most patients. Treatment approaches are tailored to each patient’s needs and can lead to continued recovery. We look at their drug use patterns and any co-occurring conditions. These conditions may include medical, mental and social problems.

When do I need treatment?

This may be difficult to determine exactly. Generally when you are not able to stop or cut down, or the substance use is affecting other parts of your life such as relationships, health or work . If you are not sure, it is often worth having as assessment. Doing so, you may be able to prevent progression into a more severe disorder.

What causes addiction?

No single factor can predict whether a person will become addicted to drugs. A combination of genetic, environmental, and developmental factors influences risk for addiction. The more risk factors a person has, the greater the chance that taking drugs can lead to addiction.

What kind of treatment is available?

Successful treatment has several steps:

  • detoxification or withdrawal (the process by which the body rids itself of a drug)
  • inpatient programmes (usually 21 days in South Africa, but may be 28 days)
  • behavioural counselling
  • medication (for opioid, tobacco, or alcohol addiction)
  • evaluation and treatment for co-occurring mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety
  • long-term follow-ups to prevent relapse

Will my medical scheme pay for treatment?

Medical schemes are obliged to pay for 3 days’ detox treatment, plus 21 days’ inpatient treatment. They will also pay for your psychiatrist, GP and psychologist, as well as medication for depression and other psychiatric disorders.