The following treatment methods, when applied in combination with each other and when tailored to the individual’s needs, may lead to successful recovery:
Detox: In most cases, addiction treatment starts with medically assisted drug detoxification (when necessary), but detox alone does not change long-term drug and alcohol abuse patterns. Usually, detoxification must be followed by some form of behavioral therapy.
Behavioral Therapy: An important part of any recovery program, behavioral therapy includes group or individual counseling, psychotherapy, cognitive therapy, or contingency management. Counseling should deal not only with the individual’s chemical dependency, but also with the roots of his or her addiction. Behavioral therapy is essential for teaching patients to use coping mechanisms. Beyond the treatment itself, many addicts also find help in the encouragement of a support group, such as a 12-Step group.
Pharmacotherapy: Some treatment plans also involve the use of pharmacotherapies, like methadone and buprenorphine, which stabilize the patient and prevent relapse. Pharmacotherapies prevent withdrawal, reduce cravings, and often block the effects of illicit drug use. Medications are not yet available for all types of drug addiction. Currently, pharmacotherapies exist for heroin, nicotine and morphine addiction. Some replacement drugs work by reducing cravings, while others produce unpleasant effects when the illicit addictive drug is consumed. Pharmacotherapies should be medically monitored in an outpatient setting, and are most effective when combined with some sort of sustained behavioral therapy.
Residential treatment programs: An effective option for addicts, residential treatment programs typically have multiple resources for treating all the aspects of the addiction, and they can also play a vital role in healing the family of the addict. After the residential program is completed, many treatment facilities offer an extended care program, halfway house, or outpatient therapy options.
Other therapeutic options: Support groups (12-Step support groups are often helpful), family counseling, and mindfulness training, are available for the treatment of addiction. Above all, an effective treatment program will address the individual as a whole, teach coping mechanisms to prevent relapse, and help the individual to once again become a productive member of his family and of society.