Methods to Treat Addiction

The six steps that are included in many addition treatment programs are: detoxification, diagnosis, cognitive therapy, family therapy, medication and some 12-step type program. WebMD has an article examining Rehab’s Role in Treating Addiction

Experts now agree that addiction is a brain disease with a genetic component, Gordon says. But it’s also affected by behavior. This behavioral component makes addiction comparable to other chronic illnesses such as diabetes and high cholesterol. Medicine has not found a way to “cure” these diseases with a pill or an operation. Instead, they require a lifetime of treatment, coupled with lifetime behavioral changes.

While most addiction treatment programs set abstinence as a goal, a relapse isn’t a reason to give up on a patient as hopeless — just as you wouldn’t give up on a diabetes patient who goes on a sugar binge, says Michael Scott, MD of the Sierra Tucson treatment clinic in Tucson, Ariz. “Addicts have their ups and downs, but you can take that information and work with it to see how to do better,” Scott tells WebMD.

About 50% of patients at Butler Hospital’s programs remain clean and sober for a year after treatment, Gordon says. But many of those who relapse “don’t go into a black hole,” he says. Instead they return to treatment to build on the behavioral skills they learned the first time.

Studies show a connection between treatment success and the “length and intensity of treatment,” says Galusha. That usually means at least three weeks of treatment lasting several hours a day (whether as an inpatient or outpatient), followed by frequent attendance at AA or other group therapy for about a year.

How to find a good clinic? Ask your doctor or friends, suggests Berger. Look for a clinic that is staffed with addiction-certified counselors and medical staff, says Galusha. And look for a clinic with medical staff that can treat the psychiatric problems that so often accompany substance abuse, says Gordon. That usually means access to psychiatrists as well as counselors, he says.

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