Drug and alcohol addiction can tear apart lives, leaving health issues, financial difficulties, and strained relationships in their wake. The socioeconomic impact is just as profound and far-reaching.
Effective and tailored treatment can break the chain of addiction and free people from its suffocating grip. It involves a combination of evidence-based therapies, medications, counseling, and family involvement.
Addiction is a chronic and debilitating disease. But with empathy and compassionate care, there’s hope for healing and long-term recovery. We’ll cover all available treatments to help you find the best options for you and your loved ones.
Table of Contents
- Types of Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment Programs
- Evidence-Based Drug and Alcohol Addiction Therapies
- Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for Drug and Alcohol Addiction
- Group and Individual Counseling
- Family Therapy and Support
- Relapse Prevention and Aftercare Planning
- How to Choose the Right Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment Program
- How to Overcome Barriers to Accessing Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment
- Final Thoughts
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to addiction treatment. Every person has a unique history, circumstances, and needs.
Here are the different treatment programs for varying degrees of drug and alcohol addiction:
Inpatient treatment is usually short and intensive care given to patients in a hospital setting. It’s suitable for individuals with acute intoxication or withdrawal potential.
Patients often require stabilization and emergency detox from drugs and alcohol. During detox, they receive medications to flush out toxins from the body and help it function normally again. Treatment also includes psychiatric evaluation and round-the-clock supervision.
Keep in mind that inpatient treatment isn’t a long-term solution. Patients need to continue treatment to achieve complete recovery.
People with less severe addictions, who have jobs, or who live in stable environments are ideal candidates for outpatient treatment.
The program involves fewer weekly sessions, including one-hour therapies per week. It usually takes place in a practitioner’s office or non-residential treatment facility.
Patients get evaluations, medical treatment, abstinence counseling, and post-recovery services.
Residential treatment is a live-in program that lasts several months to a year. It works best for patients with complex or long-term addictions and co-occurring mental disorders.
Patients stay in a rehab facility, where they learn to develop resilience and skills to avoid relapse when they re-enter society.
Residential treatment services include:
- 24/7 access to medical care
- Individual and group therapy
- Community-based rehabilitation
- Employment training
A partial hospitalization program is a structured approach to treating people with co-existing mental disorders and substance use issues. Also known as “day rehab,” it’s often used as a bridge between inpatient and fully outpatient programs.
A good candidate for PHP should meet the following criteria:
- Has an alcohol or substance use disorder diagnosis
- Has mild to moderate withdrawal symptoms
- Can go overnight without monitoring
- Not functional but lives in a safe, supportive environment
- Not a risk for self-harm
The program lasts about 5–8 hours a day, 5–7 days a week.
Despite its name, an intensive outpatient program is less intensive than PHP. It’s more flexible, with options to schedule around school, work, and significant life events.
The program suits individuals who have completed rehab or are transitioning from PHP. The participants are more at ease with sobriety and less likely to relapse.
IOP involves meetings 3–5 days a week, each lasting 4–6 hours a day.
Evidence-based therapy uses proven techniques supported by scientific studies to treat the psychological symptoms of addiction. It also integrates a patient’s clinical state, circumstances, and preferences into the treatment plan.
These are the best practices used in evidence-based treatment:
Cognitive behavior therapy helps patients identify negative or self-destructive thinking patterns and replace them with healthier ones.
Patients on CBT develop self-understanding, coping skills, and strategies for avoiding triggers and maintaining sobriety.
Dialectical behavior therapy adapts standard CBT techniques to change harmful behaviors, such as substance use and self-harm. It aims to train clients on the following core skills:
- Distress tolerance
- Emotional regulation
- Interpersonal effectiveness
DBT helps patients recognize triggers for intense negative emotions and develop coping strategies.
Motivational interviewing helps patients find the motivation to change. The approach is client-centered, collaborative, and non-confrontational.
MI explores a person’s contradictory feelings about alcohol or substance abuse using reflective listening, affirmations, and open-ended questions.
Contingency management establishes defined, achievable goals that patients will strive for. This can be a negative drug test or a certain length of sobriety.
CM uses incentives to encourage positive behavioral changes.
12-step facilitation therapy adopts the principles of 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous. It helps clients understand the 12 steps and apply them to their recovery process.
The program also encourages clients to rely on a community of peers for support.
Medication-assisted treatment administers medicines to treat alcoholism and substance use disorders. Together with counseling and behavioral therapies, MAT can help patients maintain sobriety.
Opioid addiction is the compulsive use of opioids, even when they’re no longer required medically. Commonly prescribed opioids include prescription painkillers like fentanyl, oxycodone, and morphine. Other opioids are illegal drugs, like heroin.
Over time, the body becomes physically dependent on opioids. The brain also grows addicted to the feelings of relief and pleasure they provide.
The following FDA-approved drugs are used to treat opioid addiction:
Methadone is a powerful opioid drug for treating pain and opioid use disorder (OUD). It reduces the painful symptoms of withdrawal and blocks the euphoric effects of opioids that patients are addicted to.
Buprenorphine is another opioid used to manage cravings and the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. It’s available as a sublingual tablet, injection, or transdermal patch.
Unlike methadone and buprenorphine, naltrexone is an opioid antagonist. It works by blocking the body from responding to opioids and endorphins.
Alcohol addiction is a compulsive pattern of alcohol consumption, despite adverse physical and mental health effects.
Below are medications that can help patients overcome alcohol addiction:
Disulfiram creates unpleasant physical reactions when alcohol is consumed. By causing headaches, nausea, or vomiting, it can deter patients from drinking alcohol.
Naltrexone blocks the pleasurable effects of alcohol in the brain. It lowers cravings and the likelihood of relapse.
Acamprosate helps stabilize the brain’s chemical balance, which is disrupted by alcohol addiction.
Counseling is a form of talk therapy that can be a significant part of addiction treatment. It addresses addiction’s emotional and psychological aspects with the goal of skill-building and lasting recovery.
Group counseling involves meeting with a therapist and other people going through similar struggles with addiction. Here are some benefits of group counseling:
- It provides a supportive environment that helps individuals feel less alone and isolated.
- Group members can share their experiences and learn from each other.
- It allows individuals to learn and practice new social skills without fearing failure.
- Group members are accountable to others, which can be a strong motivator for staying committed to recovery goals.
- It offers insights into how a person responds and behaves in social situations. That said, therapists can give more accurate feedback about a client’s social skills.
- It’s more affordable than individual counseling, making it available to many people.
Individual counseling involves one-on-one sessions with a therapist. The benefits include:
- It provides a safe place for clients to open up about their inner battles with addiction.
- It offers privacy and confidentiality, especially for patients who feel ashamed or stigmatized by their addiction.
- Therapists can tailor the treatment plan to the client’s needs, pace, and progress.
- Individuals get personalized feedback and support.
Group counseling offers support and a sense of community, while individual counseling offers personalized attention and guidance.
Together, these approaches can help individuals develop the skills necessary for long-term recovery.
Addiction doesn’t only affect individuals. Families and loved ones also suffer from its ripple effects. Family therapy can help everyone involved heal and move forward positively.
These techniques are beneficial to family therapy:
- Behavioral techniques focus on education and skill training to help family members address specific needs.
- Structural techniques help families set new boundaries and routines to improve family functions.
- Psychodynamic techniques explore new ways of responding to family problems more effectively.
Family members may also benefit from support systems like 12-step group therapy. These can help them cope with their loved one’s addiction in a supportive community.
Relapse prevention helps individuals stay on track with their recovery and avoid returning to alcohol and substance abuse.
These techniques are used in relapse prevention:
- Recognize the different stages of relapse: physical, mental, and emotional.
- Identify your triggers.
- Remember why you quit.
- Take good care of yourself.
- Pursue healthy distractions.
- Talk with a friend.
- Ask for help and support.
Consider these steps for a personalized aftercare plan:
- Assess your needs.
- Identify your goals.
- Create a support network.
- Identify your triggers.
- Develop coping skills.
- Establish a healthy lifestyle.
- Set up regular check-ins with your therapist.
Follow these tips to help you choose the treatment program that’s right for you:
Here are some things to consider when assessing your needs and preferences:
- Severity of addiction
- Co-occurring mental health conditions
- Personal goals for recovery
- Treatment preferences
Below are practical considerations when selecting a treatment program:
- Location: Do you want to attend a program close to home to stay connected with family and friends? Do you prefer a different place to escape your current living situation?
- Duration: Depending on the program type and severity of addiction, the course of the treatment program can differ. Some are short-term, lasting only a few weeks. Others are long-term, spanning several months to a year.
- Cost: Many insurance plans cover addiction treatment, but coverage can vary widely. Check with your provider to learn the services offered and how much your out-of-pocket expense will be.
Research different programs, including treatment approaches, success rates, and accreditations. List down the pros and cons of each option to determine which best aligns with your needs.
Consult a doctor, therapist, or health professional for advice on which programs may be ideal for you. Also, contact support groups for recommendations on the best treatment facilities and programs in your chosen location.
Accessing addiction treatment can be challenging for many individuals because of various barriers. Here are some ways to overcome them:
Addiction is recognized as a complex brain disorder with behavioral components. Yet, people with addiction still face a lot of blame and judgment for their disease.
Rather than viewing it as a result of flawed character or moral weakness, know that biological and psychological factors are at play. Addiction is a disease that requires medical treatment and support, just like any other illness.
We can better support patients’ recovery by shifting our attitudes toward empathy and understanding.
For many individuals, the cost of treatment is a significant barrier to getting the help they need. It can be discouraging to think about the financial burden of treatment while trying to cope with addiction.
Addiction treatment is a critical component of healthcare. We should urge our lawmakers to prioritize funding for treatment programs. We can work towards an accessible system by advocating for policy changes on insurance coverage.
Patients have unique needs and circumstances. For example, some individuals may require specialized care for co-occurring mental disorders. Others may benefit from culturally-sensitive programs that respect their background and beliefs.
Unfortunately, many aren’t aware of the range of treatment options available to them.
We can promote these services through community events and online resources. We can also work with healthcare providers and support groups to ensure people know about them.
Spreading awareness of and access to specialized treatment services can help build a more inclusive system.
The journey to sobriety is steep and winding. But with the right drug and alcohol treatment, long-term recovery is within reach.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, it’s not too late to seek treatment. The best thing is that programs can be tailored to your specific needs for the best chance of recovery.
It takes persistence and a strong support system to overcome addiction and its stigma. You can lead a sober life, and we’re here to help you.