Understanding Addiction & Treatment Approaches

UNDERSTANDING ADDICTION

SUD is a chronic brain disease characterized by compulsive, or uncontrollable, drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences and changes in the brain, which can be long-lasting.

These changes in the brain can lead to the harmful behaviors seen in people who use drugs. Drug addiction is also a relapsing disease. Relapse is the return to drug use after an attempt to stop.

Addiction is a disease that affects both the brain and behavior.

Types Of Treatment

​ Treatment programs are different for each individual and can be customized based on unique needs. The most effective types of treatment programs ensure that individuals in recovery are actively involved every step of the way.

Inpatient rehabs offer structured treatment programs designed to address all facets of an individual’s addiction. During inpatient rehab, patients reside in a substance-free facility and receive around-the-clock medical care and therapeutic support. Inpatient rehabs are a great option for individuals battling chronic addiction as well as those suffering from a co-occurring mental or behavioral disorder.

Outpatient rehabs are another form of comprehensive addiction care. These programs offer many of the same kinds of effective treatments and therapies as inpatient rehabs. However, outpatient rehabs allow patients to live at home during the recovery process. Patients can continue working and caring for their families while attending scheduled treatment sessions throughout the week.

 

It’s important to keep in mind that outpatient rehabs do not sequester patients from the real world; therefore, patients are at greater risk of encountering triggers that challenge their sobriety. Because of this, outpatient rehabs are suited for individuals with mild forms of addiction and a committed, disciplined approach to recovery. Outpatient programs are also an excellent “step-down” program after inpatient treatment and are often combined with sober living homes.

Detoxification helps people safely withdraw from drugs or alcohol until the substances are no longer present in their system. It is often the first step in treating individuals recovering from moderate to severe forms of addiction. In some cases, detoxing from certain drugs requires medication-assisted therapy to help ease the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Medications prescribed during detox are often tapered down until the patient is no longer physically dependent on addictive substances.

Sober living homes operate as a residential bridge between an inpatient treatment center and the return to normal life. These are a great option for people in recovery who need additional time reinforcing what was learned in rehab. Sober living homes help people in recovery strengthen their new healthy habits while still residing in the comfort of a structured environment.

During detox and throughout treatment, patients may be prescribed medications to help with the recovery process. These medications are used for a variety of purposes that include managing withdrawal symptoms, reducing cravings, or treating co-occurring disorders. Medications for addiction treatment have the most effective results when taken in conjunction with a comprehensive treatment program.

An intervention takes place between loved ones and a person suffering from an addiction and is often supervised by an intervention specialist. The idea behind an intervention is to help loved ones express their feelings in a constructive way and encourage a person battling an addiction to enter a treatment program.

Some people prefer a more spiritual approach to their recovery. Faith-based rehab centers provide specialized programs and facilities that center around faith. Within this type of rehab program, people in recovery can surround themselves with like-minded individuals who are looking for guidance from a higher power to stay strong in the journey ahead.

Therapies used in addiction treatment are based on an individual’s health and substance abuse patterns. Options for therapy include an array of individual or group therapy sessions, which are typically organized by addiction counselors.

Biofeedback is a form of drug-free therapy that helps people in recovery understand their body’s involuntary processes. During a biofeedback session, a therapist places electronic sensors on a patient’s skin to monitor their brain activity. After reviewing brain wave patterns, the therapist can recommend a range of psychological techniques that can be used to help overcome addictions.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is used to help people in recovery uncover problematic thoughts or feelings that may compromise their sobriety or contribute to a relapse. This form of therapy is also useful in treating co-occurring conditions, such as bipolar disorder.

During dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), severe mental illnesses such as obsessive-compulsive disorder are treated in conjunction with a substance use disorder. This therapy aims to improve self-esteem, provide stress-management skills, and encourage individuals in recovery to remove triggers from their life.

Experiential therapy utilizes non-traditional treatment methods to help recovering addicts overcome repressed feelings and emotions that may have contributed to their addiction. Common types of this therapy include outdoor recreational activities, such as rock-climbing.

Within holistic therapy, the focus is on the individual’s overall well-being; physical symptoms of withdrawal are also treated. Holistic therapies may include yoga, acupuncture, art therapy, and guided meditation.

Motivational enhancement therapy (MET) is used to help individuals in recovery learn how to change any negative thoughts and behaviors attached to their addiction. This type of therapy is frequently used to treat people in substance abuse recovery who have co-occurring conditions, such as bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Psychodynamic therapy helps individuals explore their emotions to uncover how their subconscious thoughts relate to their addiction. This helps to identify the underlying cause of substance use. By working closely with therapists to acknowledge these deep-seated feelings, individuals are much more prepared to identify and avoid temptations during their ongoing recovery.

After finishing an addiction treatment program, it is highly recommended that a patient join a support group. Support groups are an instrumental part of staying on the path of recovery once out of treatment, allowing for long-term continued care after rehab. The individuals you meet in support groups can offer encouragement throughout the recovery process.

 

There are several different support groups tailored to specific substances or demographics. Finding the right group provides a community of individuals that motivate and inspire each other to stay committed to sobriety.

12-step programs are regarded as the standard for recovering from an addiction. These programs follow the 12-step model of recovery and the 12 traditions, which were created by the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. Because the programs allow people to adapt the steps to their own needs, many have found them immensely helpful during their recovery. The most popular types of 12-step programs are Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings provide a group of individuals that can all relate to one another on some level about their addiction to alcohol and how it has impacted their lives a chance to do just that. Most AA meetings take place daily or weekly in a local setting, such as a church or community building. Open meetings encourage family members or loved ones to attend, while closed meetings are only for those in recovery themselves.

Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is a support group modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous that provides a community of support for those recovering from an addiction to drugs. Members of NA motivate each other to stay committed to sobriety and avoid falling back into patterns of abuse. Meetings typically involve individuals sharing their stories of addiction and recovery.

SMART is a popular alternative to 12-step support groups. It teaches people in recovery how to control addictive behaviors by addressing the underlying thoughts and feelings attached to substance abuse. SMART recovery utilizes a “4-Point Program” with stages that can be completed in any order.

Al-Anon and Nar-Anon are support groups for friends and family members of individuals who have an addiction to alcohol or drugs. The mission of these groups is to show loved ones that they aren’t alone in their struggle. Al-Anon and Nar-Anon emphasize addiction as a family illness and provide loved ones with effective coping and communication methods.

An addiction counselor’s role is to provide unbiased support for individuals going through a treatment program. Counselors create an individualized plan for treatment and aftercare and conduct one-on-one or group therapy sessions.