Addiction affects over 20 million adults in the United States. Addiction progresses and can have life-threatening consequences. Unfortunately, many of these people do not receive the treatment they need for their substance use disorders. Freedom from addiction is absolutely possible. Effective treatment can have a profound difference in the quality of your life. However, there are many options available, and the extensive choices may leave you feeling confused and overwhelmed. Therefore, it is important to distinguish what actually constitutes an effective treatment approach. Let’s get into what you and your loved ones should know.
Effective Treatment Is Individualized
Addiction naturally affects people in different ways. Although some of the behaviors may look similar across the board, that doesn’t mean it impacts everyone in the same ways. Likewise, most experts agree that there is not a universal mode of treatment that works effectively for everyone. Instead, beneficial treatment may depend on a variety of crucial factors, including your:
- Drug(s) of choice
- Presence of co-occurring disorders
- Past experiences with treatment and recovery
- Medical and mental health needs
- Cultural and lifestyle background
- Individual preferences
Sometimes, finding the right treatment can take time and represent that of a trial-and-error process. This is not an indication of failure. You may not respond well to certain interventions, and you must find a treatment that feels realistic and probable for your needs. It is also important to remember that you may not always know what you need. In fact, many people contemplating sobriety may not actually know what’s best for their care. That’s why it can be valuable to consult with professionals like doctors, psychiatrists, or therapists. Rather than assume you know the best path, it’s often better to take an open-minded and curious stance for your recovery.
Effective treatment Doesn’t Just Focus on Substance Use
It’s a misconception that drug and alcohol treatment only focuses on the drugs and alcohol themselves. While substance use is obviously problematic, most people self-medicate other symptoms to numb their feelings and pain. Only focusing on stopping substance use is far too limited. If you don’t address the underlying issues that caused (and maintain) the active use, your risk for relapse remains extraordinarily high. Moreover, even if you do stay sober, you stand a good chance of feeling dissatisfied or downright miserable- not a great way to enter recovery! Effective treatment focuses on the entire person. That means addressing your past, present, and future. It entails examining other compulsive behaviors or problematic areas of concern in your life. While not an exhaustive list, examples of areas of concern may include:
- History of trauma
- Co-occurring mental illness
- Strained or dysfunctional family dynamics
- Codependency and weak or nonexistent boundaries
- Housing issues
- Academic or employment problems
- Legal matters
- Medical needs
- Low self-esteem and intense feelings of guilt and shame
Of course, treatment does not “cure” all these other issues. Instead, the treatment enhances your awareness of how these problems impact your addiction. Furthermore, treatment should also provide you with viable resources and coping skills to manage these areas of concern as they arise during your recovery. By addressing these other issues, you will feel healthier and happier overall. You will be able to build a life that feels more profound and meaningful. This phenomenon creates a positive feedback loop. The more secure and stable you feel in all areas of life, the less prone you are to relapsing.
Effective Treatment Tends to Be Long-Term
There is not a one-size-fits-all recommended duration of substance use treatment. Your episode of care depends on the history, frequency, and intensity of your addiction. It also depends on the many external circumstances that may impact your length of care. That said, research indicates that most people benefit from at least three months of treatment. Long-term care provides you with ample opportunities to learn and implement a new way of living. It also equips you with essential support during this vulnerable and challenging time. Of course, the type of treatment largely depends on you and your treatment team’s recommendations. Some people will benefit from more intensified care (such as residential treatment). Others will benefit more from the advantages of long-term intensive outpatient or outpatient services.
Effective Treatment Often Includes Therapy
Therapy provides a safe and supportive outlet for people struggling with a variety of issues. Research continues to highlight the positive benefits of psychotherapy for substance use disorders. There are many different types of beneficial therapies for addiction treatment including:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Motivational Interviewing
- Contingency management
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
- Humanistic therapy
- Psychodynamic therapy
- Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT)
All therapy requires a sense of rapport and safety with your therapist. Building this trust may take time. You may feel profound shame and rejection from others as a result of your addiction. You may feel guarded and have a difficult time opening up around others. These are all normal experiences in early recovery. However, your therapist is trained to support and navigate you through this process. Clients may benefit from a combination of individual, family, or couples therapy. Because addiction affects the entire system, family, and couples treatment can be particularly beneficial. In these sessions, your loved ones learn will learn how to express their needs, strengthen their boundaries, and have healthier communication with you. They will also learn more about the nuances of addiction and recovery. Most treatment centers structure their clinical days with different group therapies. Groups also provide a safe and supportive space for clients to learn about their addiction and discuss their current feelings, struggles, and experiences. Groups may include curriculums based on topics such as:
- Relapse prevention
- Healthy coping skills
- Life skills (employment, money management)
- Family dynamics
- Holistic care (nutrition, fitness, mind-body wellness)
- Meditation and mindfulness
- Creative expression (music, art, creative writing)
Groups can be powerful for people struggling with addiction. Because addiction can be so isolating and lonely, it can feel incredibly validating to know that you feel surrounded by others who share similar backgrounds and experiences.
Effective Treatment May Include Medication
Many people benefit from a combination of both medication and psychotherapy as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. Today, there are numerous medications available to support cravings, mood, and overall well-being.
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) refers to FDA-approved medications used to treat both opioid and alcohol use disorders. Common medications used in MAT include naltrexone, buprenorphine, and methadone. These medications help reduce cravings for opioids and alcohol. They also block your ability to get drunk or high if you do relapse. Some of these medications (such as buprenorphine and methadone) have the potential for misuse. As a result, they can be considered controversial among the medical community. Some treatment centers prohibit these prescriptions within their care. For MAT to be successful, clients must prove adherence and compliance with medication dosages and recommendations. Clients also must receive routine evaluations and monitoring by their physicians.
Many people struggling with substance use disorders also struggle with other mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, or psychotic disorders. Mental health symptoms can impact your mood, appetite, sleep, self-esteem, and overall well-being. In other words, they can make your focus on recovery quite challenging! Psychiatric medication can help stabilize these symptoms. Your physician or psychiatrist will work closely with you to determine the best medication needs for your situation.
Effective Treatment Focuses on Aftercare
Regardless of how long you spend in a structured treatment setting, you still need to be accountable for your recovery in the future. Addiction is a chronic disease. Just like any other medical condition, you must assess, monitor, and track your progress regularly. You can’t just complete rehab successfully and expect the work to be done. Your aftercare needs are also individualized. However, most people integrate a combination of some or all of the following:
- Involvement in support groups
- Individual, family, or marital therapy
- Medication management
- Maintaining a sense of structure and routine throughout the day
- Engagement in creative activities
- Spiritual connection and involvement
Your aftercare needs may evolve as you grow and change in your recovery. This evolution is normal! Accountability requires that you focus on what is (and isn’t) working. It also means reaching out for support and guidance when you are struggling.
Getting The Treatment You Need
Effective treatment is collaborative and comprehensive. It adapts to your needs and supports your present and future goals. As mentioned, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to managing your addiction. At Lakeview Health, we pride ourselves on providing individualized care tailored to your needs. We feel dedicated to helping you find a working solution toward bettering your life. Are you interested in learning more about how we can help you? Contact us today. We’re available to support you 24/7!