Addiction to drugs or alcohol is a chronic brain disease. Like other chronic diseases, such as heart disease or diabetes, addiction is treatable but not curable. But with dedication and hard work, long-term addiction recovery is possible.
Not All Addiction Treatment Is the Same
The aim of every addiction treatment program is to help individuals stop using alcohol or drugs, maintain lasting sobriety, and function productively within their families and society. However, not every addiction treatment program is the same. If you are seeking treatment for yourself or a loved one, it is essential to be aware of the thirteen principles of effective addiction treatment.
The Thirteen Principles of Effective Addiction Treatment
To be effective, an addiction treatment program needs to include different areas of treatment. Each area needs to focus on a specific aspect of the disease and the consequences that result. Addiction treatment needs to be tailored to the needs of the individual to have the best possible outcome.
In 1999, after more than twenty years of scientific research, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) outlined the thirteen fundamental principles of effective addiction treatment. These principles are summarized below.
- Addiction is a treatable complex disease affecting brain function and behavior. The changes in the brain last long after the individual stops using drugs. This may be the reason people with substance use disorders are at risk for relapse after long periods of being sober regardless of potentially devastating consequences.
- Addiction treatment needs to be immediately available or readily accessible. Many people struggling with addiction are uncertain about getting treatment. It is necessary to seek treatment as soon as the individual is ready to get help.
- There is no one treatment that is effective for everyone. Treatment needs to vary based on the individual’s particular needs and problems.
- Effective addiction treatment focuses on all of the person’s needs, not just their drug use. To be effective, the person’s treatment must focus on their substance abuse and any psychological, medical, vocational, legal, or social problems associated with it. The treatment must be appropriate for the person’s gender, age, culture, and ethnicity. Addressing all the needs of the person is vital for long-term recovery.
- It is critical the person remains in treatment for an adequate length of time. The length of treatment depends on the individual needs. Recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction is a long-term process. The duration of addiction treatment is an important aspect of recovery. Each person is different and recovers at their own pace. Ending treatment too early almost always leads to relapse.
- Behavioral therapies such as individual, group, and family counseling are effective forms of treatment for addiction. These types of therapies may involve providing incentives for not using drugs, looking at the person’s motivation to change, building skills to resist drug use, improving problem-solving skills, replacing drug-using activities with healthy activities, and building better interpersonal relationships.
- For many people, medication is an important part of addiction treatment, especially when combined with psychotherapy.
- The services and treatment plan of the individual must be continually assessed and modified to meet the person’s changing needs. At different times throughout their addiction treatment, an individual may need different treatment combinations in addition to psychotherapy and counseling. For example, sometimes they may need medication, health care services, parenting instruction, family therapy, social services, or vocational rehabilitation.
- Many people addicted to drugs or alcohol also have other mental disorders. If co-occurring mental disorders are present, they should both be addressed and treated.
- The first stage of addiction treatment is medically assisted detoxification. Without further treatment, detox does very little for long-term success. Medical detoxification safely manages the physical symptoms of acute withdrawal. After detox, the individual should continue drug treatment.
- A person does not have to enter addiction treatment voluntarily for it to be effective. Enticements or sanctions from family, employers, or the criminal justice system are often the reason people enter treatment. Getting the person into treatment is the first step in the right direction.
- During treatment, the individual must be continuously monitored for drug use through urinalysis or other tests. Being aware that they are being monitored for drug use is a powerful incentive to help them not give in to their cravings. It also provides an early indication of drug use, indicating an adjustment to the treatment program is needed.
- Treatment programs should assess individuals for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, hepatitis B and C, and other infectious diseases. They should also provide counseling to help reduce the risk of infection.
Do You Need Help?
If you or a loved one struggles with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, help is available. Call and speak to a caring professional at English Mountain Recovery, located in the beautiful Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Find out how you can begin your journey to living a sober life.