The Expert Guide To Treating Drug Addiction

Since drug abuse can be devastating it is crucial that it is treated appropriately. The following are expert tips for treating drug addiction and making recovery permanent.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

There are not many realities more tragic than the devastating effects that drug addiction can have on people, families, and communities.

Drug addiction is a very complex disease that can affect both our behavior and the way our brains function. In fact, drug abuse alters the structure of the brain and the way that it functions. This is why even after drug abuse has been successfully treated the behavioral changes to the individual can continue for an indefinite amount of time. This may be why so many addicts relapse even when they seem to have been clean for an extended period of time.

Since drug abuse can be devastating it is crucial that it is treated appropriately. The following are expert tips for treating drug addiction and making recovery permanent.

Individualized Treatment

There is no single drug abuse treatment that is appropriate for everyone. The best type of treatment will vary based on the characteristics of the patient and the type of drug being used. The most effective drug abuse treatment centers will understand this. That is why professional treatment centers like Canadian Addiction Rehab in Canada make sure that they match the treatment setting, intervention, and service to the patient's specific problem and needs. This is the cutting edge of drug abuse treatment and critical to long-term success. An individualized program gives every patient the best opportunity to return to being a functioning member of society.

Treatment Centers

As we touched on previously treatment centers are an excellent way to address drug addiction. The best thing about treatment centers is that they always remain readily available. When a person is addicted to drugs they are often uncertain about entering into a treatment program. It is essential that a program be available the minute they decide they are ready to enter treatment. If they are ready, and there is no treatment immediately available, they may no longer be willing to start treatment when it finally is.

Just like with any other disease when treatment is offered early the probability of a positive outcome is greatly increased. This means the earlier into their addiction a person is treated the greater likelihood the treatment will be successful. This is why early intervention is so crucial and families are encouraged to seek help for their loved ones as soon as possible. Treatment centers ensure that treatment is always readily available, especially at the crucial time when the disease is still new.

Treat the Whole Person

In order to effectively treat drug abuse successfully a treatment plan cannot just focus on the abuse. The multiple needs of the individual need to be addressed. This includes medical, psychological, social, vocational, and legal problems. The treatment should also be appropriate for the gender, age, culture, and ethnicity of the individual.

Treatment programs should always start by testing patients for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases. They should also provide risk-reduction counseling. This type of counseling can focus on reducing infectious disease risk and help patients avoid high-risk behaviors. If they are already infected they can learn to better manage their illness.

By focusing on the person as a whole issues can be resolved that have further prevent the individual from returning to drug abuse.

Treatment Time

It is critical that every patient remains in treatment for an adequate amount of time. This time will vary depending on the type and degree of the individual's needs and problems. The current research indicates that most addicted individuals need a minimum of 3 months in treatment in order to eliminate or significantly reduce their drug use. The best outcomes are strongly correlated with longer treatment.

It is important to remember that recovery is a long-term process. Many times it requires multiple episodes of treatment. Relapses can occur and when they do treatment needs to be started again and possibly adjusted. Many individuals unfortunately leave treatment prematurely, so quality treatment programs will institute strategies that engage patients to make sure that they remain in treatment.

There is no benefit to rushing treatment. The goal is to eliminate drug use and that requires time and effort on behalf of the patient and treatment provider.

Behavior Therapy

Behavior therapy is a critical component of any treatment plan. This therapy can include just the individual, the individual's family, or group counseling. These therapies vary in focus and many times involve addressing the patient's motivation for changing. The motivation for changing can be a powerful tool in the fight to remain clean. Therapy can also provide incentives for abstinence, skill building to resist drugs, help finding replacement activities for drug use, help improving problem solving skills, and help to build better interpersonal relationships.

These therapies can also be an important component of the plan post-treatment. Group therapy and peer support groups are specifically effective after treatment has been completed as a continual resource for recovering addicts.


Many patients find that medications are a vital component of their treatment, especially when they are used in conjunction with counseling and other behavioral therapies. For example, Methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone (including a new long-acting formulation) have been proven to help people addicted to heroin stabilize their life and reduce drug use. Also acamprosate, disulfiram, and naltrexone are medications that have been approved for the treatment of alcohol dependency.

Medically assisted detoxification is also commonly the first stage of treatment. This helps to manage the physical symptoms of withdrawal. However, it is important to remember that this is part of a larger treatment plan, and medication is typically not the answer to successfully ending drug abuse.

Constant Assessment

The individual treatment plan should be continually assessed and modified when needed to ensure it meets the changing needs of the patient. Patients may require different combinations of services during treatment and recovery. Counseling and psychotherapy may just be the start.

Assessments may show that they need medication, medical treatment, family counseling, parenting guidance, vocational development, and even legal services. The continuing care approach provides the best results with the type of treatment and intensity varying depending on the changing needs of the patient.

Drug use during treatment should also be continuously monitored. Lapses during treatment do happen. When patients know their drug use is monitored it is a strong incentive to withstand their urges. This monitoring can also help identify patients who may need their treatment plan adjusted for better results. The goal is always to help the patient finally end their drug addiction, so ensuring they are monitored is an important step.


Drug abuse can be devastating but luckily treatment is available. When properly treated many addicts beat drug addiction and go on to lead happy and fulfilling lives. However, this is a life-long process and no one is ever completely recovered. Taking things one day at a time is usually the best strategy. With the appropriate treatment anyone can battle their demons and overcome drug addiction.

Popular in the Community


HuffPost Shopping’s Best Finds