The 12 Addiction Rehabilitation Facts
1. Addiction is a complex but treatable disease that affects brain function and behaviour. Drugs abuse alters the brain’s structure and function, resulting in changes that can persist long after drug abuse has ceased. This may explain why drug addicts are at risk of relapse even after long periods of abstinence despite the potentially devastating consequences.
2. No single treatment is appropriate for everyone. Matching treatment settings, interventions, and services to an individual’s particular problems and needs is critical to his or her ultimate success in returning to productive functioning in the family, workplace, and society.
3. Treatment needs to be readily available. Because drug-addicted individuals may be uncertain about entering treatment, taking advantage of available services the moment people are ready for treatment is critical. Potential clients can be lost if treatment is not immediately available or readily accessible. As with other chronic diseases, the earlier treatment is offered in the disease process the greater the likelihood of a positive outcome.
4. Effective treatment attends to multiple needs of the individual, not just the drug abuse. To be effective, treatment must address the individual’s drug abuse and any associated medical, psychological, social, vocational, and legal problems. It is also important that treatment be appropriate to the individual’s age, gender, ethnicity, and culture.
5. Remaining in treatment for an adequate period of time is critical. The appropriate duration for an individual depends on the type and degree of the client’s problems and needs. Research indicates that most addicted individuals need at least 3 months in treatment to significantly reduce or stop their drug use and that the best outcomes occur with longer durations of treatment. Recovery from drug addiction is a long-term process and sometimes requires multiple episodes of residential treatment. As with other chronic illnesses relapses can occur and should signal a need for treatment to be reinstated or adjusted. Because individuals often leave treatment prematurely programmes should include strategies to engage and keep clients in treatment.
6. Individual counselling, group therapy and other behavioral therapies are the most commonly used forms of drug abuse treatment. Behavioral therapies vary in their focus and may involve addressing a client’s motivation to change, providing incentives for abstinence, building skills to resist drug use, replacing drug-using activities with constructive and rewarding activities, improving problem solving skills, and facilitating better interpersonal relationships. Also, participation in group therapy and other peer support programs during and following treatment can help maintain abstinence.
7. Medications are an important element of treatment for many clients, especially when combined with counseling and other behavioral therapies. Methadone, naltrexone and subutex are effective in helping individuals addicted to heroin or other opioids. A gradual valium based reduction programme would be essential for a long-term benzodiazepine addict. Medications for alcohol dependence include valiums, anticonvulsants and vitamins. Those clients who experience psychotic episodes will require an antipsychotic medication. Clients suffering with depression would be prescribed an anti-depressant that best suits the clients signs and symptoms.
8. An individual’s treatment plan must be assessed continually and modified as necessary to ensure that it meets the clients changing needs. A client may require varying combinations of services and treatment components during the course of treatment and recovery. In addition to counselling or psychotherapy, a client may require medication, medical services, family therapy, parenting instruction, vocational rehabilitation as well as social and legal services. For many clients, a continuing care approach provides the best results, with the treatment intensity varying according to a person’s changing needs.
9. Many drug-addicted individuals also have other mental disorders. Because drug abuse and other addictions often co-occur with mental illness, clients presenting with one condition should be assessed for the other. When these problems co-occur treatment should address the dual diagnosis and include the use of medication.
10. Medically assisted detoxification is only the first stage of addiction treatment and by itself does little to change long-term drug abuse. Although medically assisted detoxification can safely manage the acute physical symptoms of withdrawal and for some clients can pave the way for effective long-term addiction treatment. Detoxification alone is rarely sufficient to help addicted individuals achieve long-term abstinence. clients should always be encouraged to continue drug treatment following detoxification. Motivational enhancement and incentive strategies undertaken during the initial client intake can improve the client’s treatment commitment.
11. Treatment does not need to be voluntary to be effective. Interventions from family, friends, employers, Interventionists, the police and the criminal justice system can significantly increase the ultimate success of drug treatment interventions.
12. Drug testing must occur during treatment as relapses during treatment can happen. Knowing that drug use is being monitored can be a powerful incentive and very ‘holding’ for clients and can help clients withstand urges to use drugs. Drug and alcohol testing also provides an early indication of a return to drug use signaling a possible need to adjust an individual’s treatment plan to better meet their needs.
David is the Clinical and Development Director of Twin Rivers Rehab in South Africa and a UK Accredited Addictions Therapist with the Federation of Drug and Alcohol Professionals UK. Articles/Blogs are written with the assistance of researchers and other specialists in the field of addiction and the recovery process