How is substance abuse treated?

Among Americans 12 and older, an estimated 19.7 million battle substance abuse. Substance abuse can lead to changes in the brain which causes people to seek out the drug despite the negative consequences. Every case of substance abuse is unique, so treatments are tailored to the person and what they need to work toward recovery.

Substance abuse treatment generally consists of a combination of treatments. Depending on the substance you are working to recover from, there may be a combination of behavioral treatments, or both behavioral treatments and medications. In most cases, long-term care is needed to help you remain in recovery.

Behavioral Treatments for Substance Abuse

Behavioral treatments can be used for both inpatient and outpatient substance abuse treatment. How often you need to attend sessions and the exact types of therapy that are recommended will depend on what you need to work toward and remain in recovery. The following are possible outpatient behavioral treatments:

• Cognitive behavioral therapy: The purpose of this therapy is to help you to avoid, cope with and recognize the situations that are likely to trigger you into using drugs
• Motivational interviewing: This therapy takes your readiness to make changes and helps you to harness it to keep yourself in recovery
• Multidimensional family therapy: This therapy is primarily used for those of adolescent age. It helps the entire family to address the impact of substance abuse and to help the family relearn how to function in a healthy way
• Motivational incentives: This therapy encourages you to remain abstinent from drugs by using positive reinforcement

If you will be receiving treatment inside a facility this is referred to as inpatient treatment. There are different options regarding the type of facility that you can use for this, including:

Short-term residential treatment: This type of facility generally puts emphasis on detoxification. Once you complete the detoxification process, you generally get involved in intensive counseling.
• Therapeutic communities: These facilities typically focus on long-term care that lasts an average of six to 12 months. You live at this facility and generally follow a strict routine each day. The whole community works together to help each other to achieve and maintain recovery.
• Recovery housing: This type of facility is where someone can go after completing a different type of inpatient treatment. It allows you to live around other sober people and work toward transitioning to an independent life outside of inpatient facilities.

Initially, these outpatient treatments tend to be frequent so that you can meet with your counselor several days a week to help you to maintain your recovery. It is also common to use these treatments as a way to transition from an inpatient substance abuse facility back into the outside world.

Medications for Substance Abuse

Medications may be used to prevent relapse and to make withdrawal symptoms easier to manage. The first step in substance abuse treatment is detoxification. There are medications that can help to make the withdrawal symptoms essentially less severe so that they are easier for you to cope with. Which medications are used will depend on the substance that you are detoxing from.

For alcohol detoxification, the following medications may be used:

• Acamprosate
• Naltrexone
• Anticonvulsant medications
• Antidepressants
• Disulfiram
• Benzodiazepines
• Anti-nausea medications

A combination of these medications can aid with alcohol withdrawal symptoms, such as tremors, nausea, insomnia, and mood disturbances.

If you need to detox from an opioid, there are two primary medicines that may be beneficial. The first is methadone. It might be given since it is a longer-acting opioid compared to drugs like oxycodone and heroin. The second type of drug is buprenorphine. This does work on the opioid receptors in the body, but it does not fully activate them which works to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

If you are detoxing from stimulants, modafinil is sometimes used. During stimulant withdrawal, it is possible to experience a crash. This drug helps to counteract this so that you can remain alert and work through your treatment program.

Antidepressants might be used for any substance abuse disorder. They may be helpful during detoxification and for long-term substance abuse treatment. Substance abuse can affect the brain’s ability to produce serotonin and dopamine, two brain chemicals. Antidepressant medicines can help to restore healthy production to aid with the effects of altered production.

Substance abuse is a condition that you can recover from. With the right treatments and resources, you can start to work toward recovery. Our staff is always available to help you. Call 833-820-2922.

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