Treating addiction

How do know you if you have an addiction?

It might have already occurred to you that you can’t manage without a particular substance, and that you tried to stop but couldn’t. It is also possible that your parents or friends have said that you have a problem. You will probably visit your general practitioner first to explain this problem. If necessary, he or she will refer you to a psychologist and/or psychiatrist who will examine whether there is a connection between a possible psychological problem and your addiction. If you are already seeing a psychiatrist, tell him or her about your addiction if you have one. By conducting interviews and tests, these experts will examine where your problems come from and how you can be helped. You don’t have to solve them on your own!

Will it go away?

An addiction can go away when properly treated. An addiction can be physical and emotional in nature. A physical addiction is when, for example, you get a headache when you don’t drink any more coffee. An emotional addiction is when you become grouchy when you stop smoking. The physical addiction often goes away first, while the emotion addiction is the most problematic. It may be the case that you always have to do your best in order not to use a substance. This also means not having a drink with your friends right after you’ve kicked your addiction: you have to have the will power to stop using the substance entirely. Turn to your psychologist, psychiatrist or a special treatment centre/clinic for assistance.


Individuals who are addicted often think that they can stop at any time. This is sometimes possible, but treatment is often actually necessary.

There are different types of treatment:

For yourself

  • Psychoeducation and motivation: you learn about what exactly your problems are and how they came about. This helps you deal with them better and gain more self-confidence. You also talk about the advantages and disadvantages of your substance use.
  • Behavioural therapy: By means of therapy, you can learn how to deal with an addiction. This means that you learn how best to act in various situations. Behavioural therapy can take the form of individual or group sessions. Sometimes, it is better to get away from your environment for a while and focus completely on your addiction. In the Netherlands, there are various clinics which are designed to help adolescents with an addiction combined with a psychological problem by means of a personalised programme. You will often work on your addiction in a group context and learn from one another's experiences. You may stay three months in a clinic and then receive follow-up care after you return home.
  • Family therapy: It is also very important that your parents know what the problem is and how they can deal with it. Your parents learn, for example, how they can help you with some things. Together with your whole family, you learn to devise solutions for your problems. Sometimes, therapy is given to several families at once. This is called multi-family therapy.

For your parents

  • Parent training: Usually, your parents learn mostly what they can do to make sure you feel better. Either alone or in a group with other parents, they learn how they can help you. For example, they can make sure that everything happens in the same way at the same time every day so that you can focus on what you are doing and are not distracted by other things.

Would you like to know more about addiction?

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