Broken Heart by Destiny Blue

Treating Addiction

Substance use is a treatable condition and complete remission is entirely possible. Recovery, however, is often a long-term process that may involve multiple efforts. Relapse is now regarded as part of the process, and effective treatment regimens address prevention and management of recurrent use.

Since success tends not to occur all at once, any improvements are considered important signs of progress. Increasingly, programs are available to help those who recognize they have a substance-use problem but are not ready for complete abstinence.

Because addiction affects so many facets of an individual’s functioning—from ability to tolerate frustration to establishing and maintaining a productive role in society—good treatment focuses on many dimensions of life, including family roles and work skills as well as mental health.

Treatment can include any of a number of components, and they are often deployed in combination. Moreover, one feature of a good treatment program is regular monitoring of individual progress and it is likely that the components of treatment will change over the course of recovery.

Addiction treatment isometric composition with man during boxing with bottle of alcohol on black background vector illustration

  • Detoxification, conducted under medical supervision, may be needed but is only the first stage of treatment
  • Medications that reduce or counter use of illicit substances are suitable for some individuals, or medications may be used to target co-occurring disorders such as anxiety and depression
  • Motivational Interviewing, a short-term counseling process to help a person resolve ambivalence about treatment and find and hold onto incentives for change
  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) to help a person recognize and cope with situations that trigger the desire to use substances
  • Group Therapy and other peer support programs leverage the direct experience of many to support individual recovery and prevent recurrence of substance use
  • Family Therapy helps individuals repair any damage done to family relationships and to establish supportive ones
  • Life skills training, including employability skills.

In addition to variety in the components, treatment is available in a variety of settings, from a doctor’s office or outpatient clinic to long-term residential facility.

No one way is right for everyone, and there is evidence that the commitment to change is more important than the type of treatment program.

Whatever the treatment under consideration, say independent researchers, there are number of features to look for to identify an effective program.

  • Patients undergo comprehensive medical and psychiatric screening
  • Treatment addresses individual needs, including co-occurring conditions, whether chronic pain, anxiety, or hepatitis
  • Families are involved in treatment
  • There is continuity of care via active linkages to resources in subsequent phases of recovery
  • The facility maintains a respectful environment
  • Treatment services are evidence-based and reflect best practices
  • Staff members are licensed and certified in the disciplines they practice
  • The program is accredited by a nationally recognized monitoring agency
  • Patient response to treatment is monitored and the program or facility offers outcome data reflecting treatment performance.

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