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Addiction Treatments

Learn about a variety of addiction treatments utilised by residential and outpatient rehabs and other providers.

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Addiction Treatments

Many people are unknowing living with an addiction of some form – a ticking time bomb that could rear its head at any moment. Others are painfully aware of the problem and regularly suffer from the negative consequences of a substance abuse disorder or behavioural addiction.

It is possible to successfully recover from an addiction of any kind, and the chances are increased when recovery is undertaken in a professional rehabilitation centre.

Most treatment programmes are highly personalised, taking into account factors such as the individual’s specific needs, medical history and motivation levels when designing a treatment plan. These programmes can be both inpatient and outpatient depending on preference and severity of the addiction.

Many people seek treatment for substance use disorders such as alcoholism, opioid addiction or cannabis dependency. However, there is an increasing number of people requiring professional treatment for behavioural addictions such as gambling, internet and sex addiction.

If not properly managed and treated, these disorders can have long-lasting detrimental effects on an individual’s physical, mental and emotional health.

You do not have to live with the effects of addiction. There are a number of effective treatment options available that can assist you on your recovery journey and help you move towards a life free from addiction and substance abuse.

How long does addiction treatment take?

Before entering a treatment programme for addiction, many people question the level of disruption that rehabilitation may have on their daily lives. It can be helpful to learn how long the treatment process may take, allowing them to choose an option that best suits their lifestyle.

However, this is not a question that can be answered in-depth without prior knowledge of the length and severity of the addiction. It’s also important to understand that addiction treatment will continue in some form for the remainder of your lifetime. Even once the individual successfully completes the initial detoxification and counselling process, they will still need to take steps to manage their addiction as they navigate through life.

Some people successfully maintain abstinence for many years only to relapse later in life. Others may relapse shortly after the treatment ends, and then go on to live a life free from addictive substances. It is recommended that the door to therapy and counselling should be left open indefinitely when living with an addiction, even if the disorder seems to be under control.

The shortest treatment programmes available may last for 7-10 days during which the individual will undergo a detoxification process. However, it is recommended that this approach is followed up with therapy which can increase the length of treatment time.

Studies have shown that long-term rehabilitation programmes are generally the most successful. These can last for up to 90 days, while short-term programmes that include both detoxification and counselling may last for around 30 days.

Is addiction treatment effective?

The primary goal of addiction treatment is to support individuals in entirely ceasing their use of addictive substances and/or engaging in self-destructive behaviours. It also aims to help them become productive members of society through employment, family responsibilities and/or volunteer work.

Addiction treatment has been proven to be effective in ceasing substance use, decreasing criminal activity and increasing societal functioning. However, addiction is a chronic disease, meaning that there is a possibility of relapse even years after the initial treatment has ended

It is important to keep in mind that the event of relapse does not mean that the treatment was unsuccessful or ineffective. Relapse is merely a bump in the road along the path to recovery – it does not signify the end of the path or a return to the beginning of the addiction. Instead, it may be a sign that a change in treatment may be needed to increase motivation or provide coping mechanisms to help the individual navigate certain life experiences.

Research shows that 47% of people in the UK who left addiction treatment in 2020 had succeeded in stopping their use of substances. [1] This is not an indication that the remainder had failed treatment – many of them may have relapsed and eventually continued treatment, successfully managing to cease their substance use in the future.

What types of addiction treatment are available?

Just as there are many different forms of addiction, there is also a wide variety of treatments that can be used alone or in combination to effectively treat addiction and increase the chances of long-term recovery. [2]

Note: This is not an exhaustive list, and it is recommended to discuss treatment options with a medical professional before committing to a specific method.

Below are some of the most common types of addiction treatment that may be offered:

1. Cognitive behavioural therapy

CBT is a form of therapy based on the idea that our thought processes, past experiences and the way we speak to ourselves all contribute to our behaviours and the way we see the world. A trained therapist will work with the patient to challenge their pre-existing ideas and help them become more aware of their thoughts and reactions.

This method is effective when treating substance use disorder and other addictions as it provides the skills required to make positive behavioural changes and empower patients to live a life free from addiction.

2. Dialectical behavioural therapy

A variant of CBT, dialectical behaviour therapy focuses on the belief that certain people are predisposed to more extreme emotional reactions that can trigger substance use and make it difficult for them to recover from an addiction.

DBT works to give individuals the skills needed to process these emotions and make healthier, more rational decisions in moments of stress and upset.

3. Contingency management

Contingency management offers rewards in the form of cash prizes and vouchers if the participant can successfully refrain from using addictive substances and/or demonstrate positive behaviour choices.

This can be an effective form of treatment, particularly for individuals who struggle to maintain the motivation levels required for abstinence in the early stages of treatment.

4. Motivational enhancement therapy

This form of treatment focuses on improving and maintaining the levels of motivation required to successfully begin or complete addiction treatment. Rather than using tangible rewards, motivational enhancement therapy works to build internal motivation by helping the individual identify problems, understand the actions required and build confidence in their abilities.

5. Acceptance and commitment therapy

The belief behind acceptance and commitment therapy is that by avoiding or attempting to escape our problems, painful memories or negative experiences, we actually make them worse. Instead, participants are encouraged to accept their emotions and focus on self-reflection, identifying their personal values and committing to actions that allow them to embrace and enjoy their life as it is in the current moment.

6. Group therapy

Group therapy is a popular form of treatment in which a number of participants with similar experiences and difficulties meet together with one or more therapists to discuss their emotions and work to identify and change their self-destructive behaviours.

This form of treatment is particularly effective when also combined with individual therapy, as it allows the individual to feel part of a wider support network while also focusing on their own individual recovery.

7. Family therapy

Addiction is an intensely personal experience, but it also has the potential to affect the wider family unit. Group therapy allows families to come together and discuss the impact that the addiction has had on each family member, and develop strategies to support each other and the individual throughout the recovery process.

The importance of detoxification within the addiction treatment

The above forms of treatment cannot be performed successfully without the individual first undergoing a detoxification process, in which the body is cleansed of the addictive substance. This usually involves gradually tapering off the dosage over a period of time until no trace of the substance remains.

During this process, the individual is likely to experience withdrawal symptoms as the body begins to learn how to function again without the drug in their system. Some of these symptoms can be life-threatening, so it is always recommended that patients undergo detoxification under the care of an experienced medical professional.

Can medications treat addiction?

While medications alone cannot effectively treat addiction, they can be prescribed as part of a treatment programme. Certain medications can reduce cravings, block the pleasurable effects of substances and assist in managing some of the more severe withdrawal symptoms. [3]

Other medications can be used as a substitute for more dangerous and addictive substances, such as the use of methadone in heroin addiction treatment. When prescribed by a medical professional as part of a long-term recovery programme, methadone can be a highly effective form of treatment.

How can I convince someone to begin addiction treatment?

Many people struggling with an addiction or substance dependency may refuse to admit that they have a problem, and as a result, they are less likely to seek out treatment.

They may also avoid reaching out for help due to a sense of guilt and shame, or they simply may not know where to look.

In these cases, it is recommended to contact an intervention specialist who will be able to assist in organising and staging an intervention. While an intervention may feel uncomfortable and painful at the moment, hearing from loved ones who have been affected by the addiction can play a key role in the individual’s decision to begin addiction treatment.

References

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/substance-misuse-treatment-for-adults-statistics-2019-to-2020/adult-substance-misuse-treatment-statistics-2019-to-2020-report

[2] https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/treatment-approaches-drug-addiction

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3767185/

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