Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction

Drug addiction is characterized by chronic and compulsive/uncontrollable drug-seeking use, and this is in spite of potentially harmful consequences and changes in the brain. This is a relapsing disease, meaning that it can be difficult to avoid these behaviors, and returning to using is common.

Drug addiction begins with using/taking drugs voluntarily; over time, however, an individual loses the ability to choose not to do so. This is because drug addiction affects parts of the brain that are associated with reward and motivation, learning and memory, and behavioral control. 

What are the principles of effective treatment?

  • Addiction is multifaceted and complex, but it is treatable
  • There isn't a single treatment/technique that will work for everyone 
  • Effective treatment addresses issues surrounding the addiction, not just the drug use. This can include social relationships/dynamics, current stressors, reflecting on the past and future, etc.
  • Counseling and behavioral therapies are the most common forms of treatment 
  • Treatment is a fluid process that is adjusted as the client changes and has different experiences 

What are some of the treatments and techniques used?

  • Behavioral counseling
  • Medication 
  • Continuous evaluation and treatment for mental health issues that occur alongside the drug use and the recovery process, such as anxiety and depression 
  • Following up long-term in order to prevent relapse before it occurs 

How are behavioral therapies used to treat drug addiction?

  • Change attitudes related to drug use 
  • Adopt healthy life skills 
  • Adapt treatment to other forms, such as medication 
  • Outpatient behavioral treatment --- large variety of patients who visit a behavioral health counselor 
    • Cognitive-behavioral therapy; multidimensional family therapy; motivational interviewing; motivational incentives
  • Impatient or residential treatment --- good for those with more severe issues
    • Therapeutic communities; shorter-term residential residential treatment; recovery housing

Here at Madrigal, we are committed to addressing issues related to stress management in a holistic manner.

*This information was adapted from the National Institute of Drug Abuse. Click this link for more information.*