Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment: Options, Methods & Recovery
The first step in healing for many individuals struggling with drug or alcohol addiction is to accept their battle with substance abuse. The next step is to identify a drug or alcohol addiction treatment program that will help restore their general health and well-being.
There are many addiction treatment options that one can choose from. Some individuals with serious forms of addiction, for instance, enter a detox program before moving to rehabilitation. Some may choose to start recovery at an inpatient or outpatient facility. Nonetheless, it is advised that lessons learned in rehabilitation continue to be reinforced by attending support groups and therapy sessions.
What Is Drug Addiction Treatment?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), addiction treatment is designed to help dependent people avoid compulsively finding and using drugs. Treatment may occur in different settings, take various forms, and last for different periods of time. A short-term, one-time treatment is generally not effective because substance abuse is typically a chronic condition marked by periodic relapses. Treatment and recovery are a long-term process for many and require multiple interventions and regular evaluation.1
There are a wide range of evidence-based addiction treatment methods. Drug and alcohol treatment can involve behavioral therapy, medications, or a combination of both. Depending on the individual needs of a patient and the types of drugs they use, the actual method of treatment can vary from one user to another.1
Characteristics of Effective Addiction Treatment
Addiction is a disorder that affects cognitive function and behavior. It is complex but treatable. Drugs affect the structure and function of the brain, leading to modifications that occur even after the cessation of drug use. This may explain why users, even after long periods of abstinence and despite potentially deadly effects, are at risk of relapse.2
Here are some common characteristics of effective addiction treatment:2
- Treatment should suit each individual rather than applying a uniform approach. Treatment settings, therapies, and programs should be adjusted to the unique problems of a person. This will increase their chances to start their recovery and eventually start living a high functioning, addiction free life.
- Users should have easy access to treatment. Individuals struggling with addiction may be unsure about starting treatment. Therefore, they should be encouraged to take advantage of available resources and treatment options. Patients may experience greater chances of recovery the sooner they start treatment, as it is the case with other chronic diseases in general.
- Another important feature of effective addiction treatment is that it is created to address various needs of individuals, not just their drug abuse.
- It is important to stay in care for a recommended period of time. Treatment duration depends on the type and complexity of issues of each patient. Some individuals may need at least 3 months of treatment to stop or reduce their use of drugs. The best outcomes are likely to happen with longer periods of treatment.
- Treatment programs for addiction should combine some of the most commonly used and generally acknowledged methods such as behavioral therapy which may include individual, family, or group counseling.
- Medications, particularly when paired with therapy and other behavioral approaches, are an important element of effective addiction treatment.
- A patient’s care and treatment plan should undergo ongoing adjustments depending on their changing needs.
- Since substance abuse and addiction frequently co-occur with other mental conditions, patients should be treated for both conditions.
- Medically assisted detoxification is an important, but just the first step of addiction treatment. Individuals should undergo other treatment options and rehabilitation after completing the detox stage.
Available Addiction Treatment Options
Typically, drug treatment research has categorized services into various common styles or modalities. Treatment services continue to develop and diversify, and many programs do not fall neatly into the classifications of what was once considered to be a conventional treatment clinic.3
Most, nevertheless, begin with detoxification and withdrawal that is medically managed, which is the first phase of treatment. In order to handle the acute and potentially harmful physiological effects of stopping drug use, detoxification is needed.3
Some of the common treatment options include:3
- Long-term residential treatment.
- Short-term residential treatment.
- Outpatient treatment programs.
What Are Treatment Methods for Drug Addiction Treatment?
There are several methods that proved successful in drug and alcohol addiction treatment, including:4
- Behavioral therapy
- Medication assistance
- Medical appliances used to manage withdrawal symptoms
- Assessment and care for co-occurring mental health disorders
- Long-term follow-up care to prevent relapse
A variety of treatment methods could be essential in order to achieve positive results. Treatment can include both medical and mental health services if required. Post-treatment support can also be essential in order for the patient to remain on their recovery path.4
Frequently Asked Questions
While the process of rehabilitation is unique to each individual, patients may go through the following stages of treatment and recovery:5
- Early stage of treatment when they feel vulnerable and reluctant to undergo treatment.
- Middle stage of treatment when patients need support and guidance while learning about their issues.
- Late stage of treatment: when patients focus on treatment benefits and take steps toward self-acceptance.
Holistic approaches refer to non-medical practices that include yoga, meditation, massage therapy, and acupuncture. By including these approaches in addiction recovery treatment, patients could experience positive changes not only in their rehabilitation but in other parts of their daily lives. Many treatment facilities see holistic approaches as a chance for patients to better attend to both their psychological and physical needs, providing a full continuum of care.
Individuals seeking holistic treatment programs may struggle to find research that supports the effectiveness of such practices. Not a lot of research has been conducted on various holistic therapies, and the research that exists is often inconclusive. For this reason, holistic methods just complement an evidence-based curriculum for addiction treatment.
The process of rehabilitation and recovery is unique to each patient. Nonetheless, research suggests that positive results rely on an adequate duration of treatment.6
Generally, treatment participation for less than 90 days is of limited efficacy. Treatment for a longer time period is recommended so that positive outcomes may be achieved. By looking at addiction as a chronic disease and providing ongoing care, treatment programs can be successful, but this will often require multiple treatments and readmission of patients that may have relapsed.6
1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). What is drug addiction treatment?
2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of Effective Treatment
3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Types of Treatment Programs
4. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019).Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction DrugFacts
5. National Center for Biotechnology Information Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy.
6. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). How long does drug addiction treatment usually last?