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10 Elements of Effective Treatment

Recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction takes commitment, time, and understanding. Much like an addiction usually doesn’t begin overnight, neither does recovery. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, effective treatment programs include common elements that help to motivate, educate, and transform those suffering from substance abuse. Recognizing the common denominator in effective treatment can help you choose the best help for yourself or someone you love.

1. All Addictions Are Treatable

Every effective treatment program recognizes addiction as a treatable condition in which the structure of the brain has been altered. Addicts suffer from changes within the brain that will persist long after the use of drugs or alcohol ceases. This places them at a substantial risk of relapse—effective treatment programs take the risk of relapse into consideration and offer quality aftercare programs designed to keep recovering addicts involved in continued counseling and care.

2. There is No One-Size Fits All Treatment Method

Depending on the characteristics of the patient, various methods of treatment and care can be effective. Quality treatment programs match each individual patient with appropriate levels of treatment, counseling, intervention, medical care and added services to aid in recovery. As needs change, treatment plans are modified to promote continued success in recovery.

3. Treatment Must be Available Immediately

Recognizing that an addict can change his or her mind on a dime, effective treatment programs do everything within their power to make treatment readily available. Uncertainty often results in ratification of a decision to get help—making treatment readily available when the individual seeks help ensures that potential patients aren’t lost due to “fear of the unknown.”

4. Patients are People, Not just Addicts

Effective treatment programs recognize patients as individuals; they have different needs, they have feelings and they are more than just an addiction. The best recovery programs offer support for all elements of the patient’s life including:

  • The substance abuse
  • Associated medical illness
  • Psychological illness
  • Social elements
  • Legal troubles

5. Treatment Takes Time

According to NIDA, while there is no predetermined length of time that it will take for an individual to recover, research shows that positive outcomes generally correspond with longer treatment times. Participation for at least 90 days is recommended and in many cases, longer stays in treatment are necessary to ensure recovery.

6. Medical Care is an Important Element of Treatment

Every quality treatment program will include medical care that ensures patient safety and comfort. While some poise themselves as being “natural” or “holistic” recovery programs, even these should include medical monitoring and support to ensure the overall health and wellness of the patient, especially if detox is taking place at the facility. Various medications may be incorporated into an effective treatment plan to assist in the recovery process.

7. Behavioral Therapy is Both Helpful & Recommended

Most treatment programs utilize various forms of behavioral therapy as the basis of individual, group and family counseling sessions. Behavioral therapies are adjusted to meet individual and changing patient needs but may include:

  • CBT
  • Motivational rewards
  • Incentive programs
  • Interpersonal relationship building
  • Problem solving
  • Peer support programs

8. Psychological Support is Necessary

Recognizing that more than half of all drug or alcohol-addicted individuals also suffer from a co-occurring mental illness such as depression or anxiety, effective treatment programs address psychological illnesses hand-in-hand with addiction. Treatment plans address both the addiction and the underlying mental health condition in order to provide the patient with the best possible chance for optimal recovery.

9. Monitoring and Accountability Take Place

Because addiction is a disease characterized by chronic relapse, patients must be held accountable for their actions and should be monitored to ensure continued abstinence. Not only does knowing that drug use is being monitored tend to influence some patients to remain abstinent, monitoring also provides treatment staff with an immediate glimpse into a potential problem and the need to modify a patient’s treatment plan.

10. Treatment Beyond Detox is Recommended

While detox is a necessary first step of the recovery process, it’s only the first step. Many additional steps must be taken to ensure continued success in recovery. Effective treatment programs provide patients with access to continued care which includes counseling, therapy, and support aimed at helping them to become more involved in their treatment and recovery.