Addiction affects parts of the brain involved in reward and motivation, learning and memory, and control over behavior, rendering the addict feeling helpless in coping with it. It takes a highly specialized approach to treat someone’s addiction. Addiction is a chronic problem and fixing it requires a long-term plan to stop using completely and recover their lives.
The goals for addiction treatment include getting the patient to stop using drugs, stay drug-free, and be productive in the family, at work, and in society.
An effective treatment program should identify addiction as being a complex but treatable disease and that the treatments need to be personalized, as no single treatment works for everyone. It is important to account for the fact that people need to have quick access to treatment. It needs to be a holistic program that effectively addresses all of the patient’s needs, not just the drug use. The program needs to be comprehensive, with a focus on counseling and other behavioral therapies. Medications are also necessary, especially when combined with behavioral therapies. Patients’ needs change, so the treatment plans must be reviewed often and modified to fit the current status.
Treatment should also address other possible coexisting mental disorders. Treatment sometimes has to be involuntary to be effective. Of course, drug use during treatment must be monitored continuously. It is also necessary to screen these patients for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases as well as educate them on ways to reduce their risk of contracting these illnesses. Following treatment, a long-term follow-up is necessary to prevent relapse. Follow-up care may include community- or family-based recovery support systems.
Medications and devices can be used to manage withdrawal symptoms, prevent relapse, and treat co-existing conditions. Detoxification is the first step of the treatment. When patients don’t receive treatment following detox, they are very likely to resume their drug use. While medications are the mainstay option in detox, recently FDA granted the use of an electronic stimulation device, NSS-2 Bridge, for use in helping reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms.
Medications are also helpful in relapse prevention. They can help to re-establish normal brain function and decrease cravings. They are especially helpful in opioid, tobacco and alcohol addiction treatment.
These medications are used for the following addictions:
Opioids: Methadone (Dolophine®, Methadose®), buprenorphine (Suboxone®, Subutex®, Probuphine® , Sublocade™), and naltrexone (Vivitrol®).
Nicotine addiction: bupropion (Zyban®) and varenicline (Chantix®).
Alcohol: Disulfiram (Antabuse®), Acamprosate (Campral®), Naltrexone have been FDA-approved for treating alcohol addiction and a fourth, topiramate, has shown promise in clinical trials.
Behavioral therapies can greatly help these patients be aiming to modify their attitudes and behaviors related to drug use and by trying to increase healthy life skills.
Most of the programs involve individual or group drug counseling and include cognitive-behavioral therapy, multidimensional family therapy, motivational interviewing, etc.
Inpatient or residential treatment can be necessary in some cases, especially for those with more severe problems. Licensed residential treatment facilities offer 24-hour structured and intensive care, including safe housing and medical attention, and aimed at helping the patient live a drug-free, healthy and productive lifestyle after treatment.