Learning about different types of addiction treatment can be overwhelming, as you search for the one that will work for you or your loved one. Ultimately, no addiction treatment method will work for everyone the same way, and there is no “quick fix” treatment method.
Any kind of treatment will be a work in progress, and it will take time to find the methods that work best for your needs. In addition to finding the right treatment methodology for you, it is important that family members and loved ones better understand addiction and the struggle that comes with finding the right treatment program.
“Most of us can appreciate what it is like to experience the pain of knowing better, wanting better, loathing ourselves for failing to do better and not needing anybody else to tell us that we could be doing better.”
– Huffpost.Addiction may not always be obvious, either. It could be recognizing subtle mood swings, or erratic behavior as the individual cannot help themselves but look for ways to get more of the substance they are addicted to or avoid social contact when going through withdrawals so they do not reveal their condition to people they love the most. Many people who are addicted to prescription medications or recreational drugs and alcohol will become overcome with a sense of shame and embarrassment if they are found out, so it is essential that loved ones are understanding and show kindness, never blaming the individual for their addiction, but rather encouraging them to seek professional treatment.
There is no single cause for addiction; it is not a habit that someone picks up on and decides to facilitate throughout their lifetime, but a mental health concern that can be born of different causes or environments.
Addiction can also form because of many underlying causes; no one cause is solely responsible for an addiction.
In some families, genetic predisposition can play a role in addiction no matter the substance. If there is family history of drug or alcohol abuse, it is important to watch for these behaviors in future generations and have open conversations about the experience, risks, and treatment options that are involved.
While family history does not guarantee an addiction in future generations, it can play a role in how quickly or severely an individual becomes addicted once they begin using addictive substances.
For others, peer pressure and a lack of familial support can also lead to drug addiction, as these drugs lead to feelings of safety, elevated mood, or comfort that they may not be getting elsewhere. In the case of peer pressure, they may be seeking social acceptance or experience a fear of missing out.
Addictive substances can gradually take hold and convince the user to seek out more and more until the addiction becomes out of control, often without the user recognizing that it has become a problem.
In some cases, simply taking a highly addictive drug can lead to an addiction, as is the case with many prescription drugs even in individuals who do their best not to become addicted to the substance. This is often the case with opioids, even when taken as directed in recovering from a surgery or medical problem.
Additionally, while addiction may provoke the development of other symptoms and mental health concerns like depression and anxiety, these ailments can also be the cause of, or a factor exacerbating substance abuse.
These problems often leave the individual feeling uncomfortable, and these drugs can alleviate the problem temporarily, causing the user to seek out the easy relief it provided, rather than seeking proper treatment for their mental health disorder.
Addiction comes with many risks that can take shape throughout the individuals’ life, affecting them, their loved ones, or both.
Depending on the substance, there many be certain health risks associated with the addiction such as adverse reactions or side effects. The method of abuse can also pose a significant risk, especially in injections. For example, the difficulty to obtain or sterilize needles can lead to addicted individuals sharing needles, which poses a significant health risk for bloodborne diseases or viruses.
Other risks that addiction poses is mental, triggering depressive episodes, an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and actions, as well as psychosis. Depending on the extent of the addiction, it can also push the individual towards crime to finance their habits or get involved in illicit activities to acquire their drugs.
The risks of addiction can also extend to loved ones inadvertently. Most often, this is through personality or habitual changes that can harm relationships through mental, emotional, or physical abuse. These actions can arise at any stage of indulging in the substance, either in an attempt to acquire the substance, changing how they feel when on the substance, or during withdrawals.
Addiction can also harm loved ones directly by affecting their financial situation, especially in arrangements where the loved one is financially tied to the addicted individual, or willing to provide them with financial support.
There are 4 commonly accepted levels of addiction that can be used when assessing an individual’s dependence on an abused substance, and the difficulty on helping them overcome their dependence on the substance.
The first stage is experimentation. This is when the individual is first introduced to the substance and they test it out. Perhaps they are curious, don’t understand the risks, succumbing to peer pressure, or looking for a way to self-medicate a problem without outside help.
Some people simply don’t believe that they can become addicted to a substance, or that the substance itself is non-addictive. The reasons for first trying a substance vary with any individual.
The second stage is common use, in which the individual believes that they can quit easily and without issue, but they continue to seek out the drug. For some individuals, they will always maintain that they can easily quit, in denial of the addiction they are facilitating.
For others, the regular use of drugs or alcohol can continue without developing into an addiction, but this is not common; warning signs for the addiction progressing is if the individual begins to feel like they ‘need’ the substance as a part of their daily routine, or if they begin developing cravings for it.
The third stage is when the individual begins to make excuses for their substance abuse and feels cravings and urges to continue use. This typically involves a dramatic increase in the frequency of use, as well, in spite of social or legal barriers to the substance.
In this stage, cravings may become irresistible. Relationships and work life may begin to suffer, and the substance can begin to play a larger role in the individual’s life and overall thoughts.
The fourth stage is addiction. This occurs when an individual is dependent on a substance without question, and it affects their daily life and consumes their thoughts. It is also at this stage that the body can begin to go through withdrawals if they do not consume their abused substance, whether it is drugs or alcohol.
Fortunately, rehabilitation clinics and intensive treatment can still help you or your loved one recover from this stage, no matter how deeply dependent you become on a substance. The essential ingredient to this type of recovery is the desire to leave substance abuse behind.
For individuals who are struggling with relapse, it can be difficult for family members to grasp why their addiction has such a hold on them. Even individuals who are willing to undergo treatment and want to overcome their addiction may struggle with relapse in the beginning.
This is a common cycle, of addiction, to treatment, to relapse into addiction.
The cycles of addiction can be frustrating to everyone involved, but it is possible to break the cycle with continued treatment, or additional or alternative treatment options if a current treatment method is not working.
It is important, however, to recognize that any kind of abstinence from the substance is a success and should be celebrated. Social support is important for individuals struggling with substance abuse, and while loved ones should never encourage their substance abuse, it is important to understand that quiet successes should be celebrated just as much as obtrusive relapses.
An effective treatment is one that allows the patient to reverse or redirect their substance abuse in the long-term through the techniques and methods offered during treatment. (2) The patient must be willing to participate in the treatment, however, as even the most effective treatment methods will fail to prevent a relapse in those who do not believe they are addicted or do not want to pursue treatment options.
Many treatment options attempt to address just a single problem at once; for most individuals, multiple forms of treatment may be necessary. No one treatment is effective for everyone, as every addiction case is different from another, and multiple needs must be addressed in the individual.
“[…] a new report concluded that individuals with substance abuse problems who are living in a collaborative housing setting will have their addiction treated more effectively than abusers not residing in a community-based facility.”
A holistic and effective treatment for drugs or alcohol abuse must address the individual’s problems and any associated repercussions of their actions while under the influence or in pursuit of acquiring more drugs. This can include medical, social, legal, or vocational problems that have arisen as a result of the addiction.
Once all these problems are addressed with a willing patient, the road to recovery becomes much clearer and certain. By understanding what the addiction has taken from the individual, doctor and patient can work together to rebuild their self-image and responses to certain cravings or thought patterns.
While the process varies for every individual, cooperating with rehabilitation staff, medical professionals, and making an earnest effort to improve their life and overcome addiction is a difficult but essential step for any patient to take.
Therapeutic and medicated treatment programs help provide the patient with the necessary tools to overcome their addiction in the long-term without additional supervision or oversight, allowing them to reclaim their livelihood and reform healthy relationships with their loved ones.
There are many types of addiction treatment programs out there, however, it is important to ensure that the treatment facility you are working with using researched techniques. (3) It is also important to ensure that, no matter the type of addiction treatment, that the facility has staff on hand that are either trained to handle withdrawal and overdose symptoms, or has medical staff on-call to help if necessary.
“Look for programs using research-validated techniques, like cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps addicts recognize what prompts them to use drugs or alcohol, and learn to redirect their thoughts and reactions away from the abused substance.“
– NY Times
It is important that the patients’ time in a treatment facility is productive in both the short-term and long-term, allowing them to overcome their addiction not just when supervised, but also help them overcome their urges and cravings on their own.
An increase in the patients’ willpower and ability to redirect harmful thought patterns and resist their cravings is a difficult but important indicator of success in any treatment program. For many people, however, it takes effort to find a treatment program that works best for their circumstances, as no two cases of addiction are the same.
In a short-term residential treatment, the patient temporarily takes up residence in the rehabilitation facility, which is equipped with necessary accommodations such as bedding, restrooms, entertainment, and food.
Patients are often allowed to bring in personal items like books, but no computers, cell phones or tablets. These items, if brought into the facility, are stored with staff members to ensure that they are kept safe and returned to the individual upon departure.
In this facility, patients are supervised by trained personnel, and support services are provided by the facility for the duration of treatment. Depending on the circumstances of the stay, therapy, counseling, or other treatments may be administered during the stay.
Short-term treatment is often a part of additional treatment or care programs that require the individual to be supervised anywhere from 24-hours to a few weeks. In most cases, facilities will provide short-term residential treatment as an intensive 28-day program to help get individuals used to living without their abused substance.
This type of treatment is similar to short-term residential treatment, except patients in long-term treatment must stay in the rehab facility for a minimum of 90 days.
The total treatment time depends on the patient’s individual circumstances and the doctor’s assessment. These facilities are fully equipped with everything that the patient needs on a daily basis, such as entertainment, food, bedding, and restrooms.
Patients are thoroughly checked upon entry to the facility to ensure that they do not have any substances on their person or within their personal belongings, and then allowed into the facility. Once admitted, patients are not allowed to leave the facility until their treatment time is up.
While living in the facility, staff monitors patients and provides therapy and treatment sessions based on their care regimen. Long-term facility is typically considered best for individuals who are having difficulty with treatment, have been through other treatments without success, or have difficulty with relapse.
Not all types of addiction treatment involve the patient going into a rehabilitation facility. There are many outpatient treatment programs that focus on allowing the patient to live their normal, everyday lives without substance abuse.
This type of treatment can be done in tandem with other options like group counseling or medicated treatment but allows the individual to keep up with their family and work obligations at the same time. It is best for individuals who are not deeply dependent on their substance to the point of being dysfunctional in everyday life.
Typically, this involves cases of minor substance abuse or behavioral problems, but there is a full spectrum of outpatient treatment programs that include care at all levels to suit the patients’ specific circumstances.
For example, intensive outpatient programs may involve several days of care per week, where the individual spends much of their free time in the facility but does not reside there full-time. Cases where the individual does not need as much help, however, will often include regular appointments with a psychologist or some treatment programs that require the individual to come in every few weeks or every few months.
Group counseling is one of the most common forms of treatment available to patients in a rehabilitation facility, or as a part of a standalone voluntary group for outpatient individuals. In this group, a psychotherapist helps lead a circle of individuals with similar addictions, encouraging them to share their experiences with others and talk about their journey with addiction thus far.
It is important, however, that the individual finds a group that they are comfortable in. (4) This group should align with their values and experience, and they should feel as safe as possible in the group to encourage them to speak about their experiences and work through their addiction with others.
“People interested in attending a therapy group will need to be matched up with a group that suits their individual needs.”
For example, if an individual is not religious, a group that focuses on the importance of including faith and religion into their daily lives to help beat addiction will not align with their world view and will not be as effective as a group that does not place such a strong emphasis on this, instead focusing on real-world experiences and values.
The reverse is true that an individual who is highly religious may find that faith is missing from many groups and may find greater comfort and belonging in a group that focuses on these values.
Some patients will find that group therapy is not the right environment for them, and that they don’t feel comfortable sharing their experiences with a group of people. If group therapy does not work for someone, individualized drug counseling is an alternative option.
In this type of counseling, the patient meets with a drug counselor on a one-on-one basis, rather than in a group meeting. In these sessions, the patient will talk with their counselor about the substance and their experience in overcoming the addiction so far.
Together, counselor and patient work together to find treatment options that work best for them and discuss ways of thinking that help them further their goals for quitting their substance and removing and redirecting the urge or compulsion depending on the individual circumstances and substance.
Individualized drug counseling can even be done jointly with group counseling sessions to provide the best of both worlds, as some people do best with both outlets for discussing the addiction and journey through different treatment options.
This type of treatment may require that the patient stays overnight or for a longer timeframe in a rehabilitation facility while they are kept away from the substance that they are addicted to. This is often a necessary step in other types of addiction treatment as the individual must be sober.
It is important to verify that these facilities have experienced medical personnel on staff if the individual is addicted strong substances, as this will help provide the necessary oversight for a safe withdrawal.
For many individuals, the thought of going through the withdrawal induces fear or anxiety, which causes them to continue seeking out their substance of choice.
By removing the ability to indulge in the substance and instead provide a controlled and safe environment where the individual can navigate the withdrawal experience with proper oversight, they can begin additional treatment quickly.
Additional types of addiction treatment may be administered on specific timelines either as outpatient or inpatient programs depending on their willingness to participate and their capability to avoid relapse.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the leading treatments for addiction, as it helps the patient work through their own thought processes and change these habits and thought patterns into something more constructive. This has been shown in many different studies and focus groups to have a positive lasting and tangible effect on the individual’s addiction treatment.
This work must be done by a licensed psychologist and has shown promising results in helping reverse self-destructive habits and provide mental tools for the individual to combat their own thoughts and urges in the future. This provides the patient with the skills needed to correct their behavior and thought patterns, lessening the helplessness that addicted individuals can feel around the target substance.
Because of the cooperative nature of the therapy, it can only be done with individuals who are willing to work with a professional in getting help, who want to overcome their addiction. This realization can be difficult for patients that are in denial or are unaware that they have a problem, or harbor resentment towards the treatment in any way.
Contingency management is a common approach for substance abuse as the risks are relatively minimal, but it may not work for every individual. This type of treatment is intended to interfere with the addiction by modifying the patient’s behavior around the substance.
This methodology encourages both an abstinence from certain substances as well as adherence to treatment plans and medications. Positive incentives are often awarded to individuals who abide by these rules. Rewards may vary, as anything from gift vouchers to certain retail shops, to small cash rewards or even clinic privileges in inpatient rehabilitation facilities.
This method of treatment is widely implemented across the United States and is considered to be most effective in treating the use of cocaine and opioids, but effects can diminish when used standalone for a long time.
Additionally, it requires frequent drug screening or blood panels to confirm that certain substances are at the desired levels or to confirm that they are not present at all, depending on the circumstances.
Medicated treatment is often used as a supporting treatment plan for helping prevent relapses of certain substances. It is not always pursued as a method to treat drug abuse, but it may prove effective for certain individuals. This treatment method is most common in treating alcoholism.
These medications help by causing undesirable side effects when the user comes in contact with or ingests their abused substance.
In the case of alcoholism, Disulfiram is a common FDA-approved medication that causes the user’s face to flush when alcohol is consumed and can potentially prevent alcohol from producing the initial euphoric effects.
In treating substance abuse of opioids and other drug dependencies, medications like buprenorphine can help manage symptoms of withdrawal, making it easier for the individual to recover from their addiction with fewer or more tolerable symptoms.
No matter the circumstances, these medications must be used under the prescription and oversight of a doctor to ensure that they are being used properly and do not cause unintended side effects in the user.
Many therapy programs are geared towards helping the individual create healthy habits and equip them with positive coping mechanisms and strategies for overcoming their substance abuse.
This may include remedying any concerns with family or close friends, or additional therapy directed towards other mental health disorders such as anxiety or depression.
There are many different types of therapy programs available depending on what works best for the individual; most often, these methods include group therapy, creative arts, or cognitive behavioral therapy. Patients may also choose other therapeutic programs when available, such as dialectical behavioral therapy, yoga therapy, one-on-one therapy, or family counseling sessions.
Depending on the circumstances of the individual, therapy may continue to be valuable to their recovery progress even after inpatient rehabilitation, or if they have been clean for a significant timeframe.
This continued support will help alleviate the root problems that contributed to their initial addiction, helping prevent relapses and provide the patient with a positive and constructive strategy for coping with urges or environmental circumstances that they feel uncomfortable in.
Therapy may also help individuals come to terms with how addiction has affected them and their loved ones and help them heal from the experience.
At the Red River Treatment Center, we care for our patients every step of the way. Rather than providing a band-aid solution or a quick fix, we provide patients with positive habits and strategies to facilitate their long-term recovery.
We understand that addiction is more than a bad habit, and that it can be difficult to overcome alone, which is why we dedicate our time to helping patients find the best coping mechanisms and therapeutic methodologies that work.
Everyone deserves a second chance. By understanding the root causes of each individual’s addiction, we can help provide the cure at the source.
1. Huffpost, The Purgatory of Wanting to Change: Understanding Addiciton, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/they-have-to-want-to-chan_b_10330074
2. Forbes, The Best Treatment for Drug Addicts is Community, https://www.forbes.com/sites/cjarlotta/2015/09/25/community-based-recovery-programs-work-wonders-for-drug-addicts/?sh=59a83f926a4d
3. NY Times, Effective Addiction Treatment, https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/04/effective-addiction-treatment/
4. com, Group Therapy: Substance Abuse Treatment, https://drugabuse.com/treatment/therapy/group/