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What Happens in Treatment?

What Happens in Treatment?

Treatment programs will assess patients to determine the strength and type of their addictions

Although every individual who struggles with substance addiction is unique, there are commonalities to the addiction experience. There are also common recovery tasks and skills to master for the journey. Addiction treatment programs may vary in specifics, but most have the same core elements.

Common Elements of Addiction Treatment Programs

Common aspects of addiction treatment include the following:

  • Detoxification – Detoxification, or detox, is the first stage of addiction treatment. When people have become physically dependent on drugs or alcohol, they experience withdrawal symptoms when the substance is not consumed regularly. Detox is the process of undergoing this withdrawal process under medical supervision while being kept as comfortable as possible. Although many rehab facilities provide for on-site detox, some do not. It is possible to undergo detox in a hospital or free-standing clinic and in some cases, an outpatient detox may be possible.The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration states that there are three essential components to detox. These are evaluation, stabilization and fostering readiness to continue with substance abuse treatment. They stress that detox alone does not constitute addiction treatment and that the success of detox can be measured in part by whether patients enter rehab after detoxifying.The length of time it takes to complete detox depends on the substance of abuse and other personal factors. Sometimes, when detox takes place within a comprehensive rehab facility, there will be some overlap between detox and further services. People may begin attending counseling or support group meetings, for example, before the detox process has been fully completed.
  • Assessment – The most effective treatment programs are tailored to meet individual needs. To this end, treatment programs will assess patients to determine the strength and type of their addictions and to identify any other issues that should be addressed. It is not uncommon for mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to co-exist with addiction, and addressing them together in an integrated manner leads to the best treatment outcomes. For this reason, many quality programs will screen for mental health issues as well as addiction specifics.An assessment will determine a patient’s substance abuse and addiction history including any history of prior treatment. Patients will also be asked about a family history of addiction issues. If there are practical needs, such as for housing or employment, these will be identified.An initial assessment may take a few hours and combine interviews with the use of standardized instruments. A variety of standardized instruments may be used including the Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory (SASSI), the Drug Dependence Screen (DDS) or the Addiction Severity Index (ASI). Sometimes a patient’s motivation and readiness for treatment may be assessed with an instrument such as the Stages of Change Readiness and Treatment Eagerness Scale (SOCRATES).
  • Education – It is important for people in recovery to understand the nature of addiction and what to expect as they heal. Program personnel will use a variety of methods to explain the effects of substances of abuse on the brain and body and what treatment will entail. The website WebMD notes the importance of focusing on the many benefits of abstinence.
  • Counseling – Counseling, both on an individual and group level, is generally at the heart of addiction treatment. Counseling fulfills many functions including helping people increase their motivation to make changes, identify roadblocks to recovery and identify and address substance abuse triggers. Because stress and negative emotions are often associated with substance use, patients will learn healthier ways to cope with them.There are many types of counseling. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is perhaps the most common. In CBT, patients learn to identify the thoughts that underlie behaviors and emotions. They examine these thoughts for truth and utility and address those that are not true or helpful.Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is growing in popularity and is an offshoot of traditional CBT. DBT adds the element of validation and the acknowledgement that a patient’s beliefs and actions make sense in some ways. It balances acceptance of life as it is with the goal of making positive changes.
  • Skill development – The teaching of relapse prevention skills is an important component of treatment. Patients may learn such techniques as urge surfing or distraction and learn to recognize those occasions when they need to seek support. If other skill deficits are identified, these may also be addressed. There may be training in such things as effective parenting techniques or job acquisition.
  • Medication management – The National Institute on Drug Abuse notes that medications can be useful in managing withdrawal symptoms, re-establishing normal brain functioning and in relapse prevention. Medications do not currently exist to address relapse for every substance of abuse. Those with medication options include alcohol and opiate/opioids. Addiction to opiates and opioids may be treated with methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone. Naltrexone, acamprosate and disulfiram may be used to address alcohol addiction.

We Can Help You Find Treatment

The treatment process begins by selecting a program. If you need help identifying a program that is right for you, give us a call. Our helpline is toll-free and available 24 hours a day. We can help you understand your treatment options and can even check your insurance coverage for you if you wish at no cost or obligation. Call now, and begin to reclaim your life.