Addiction Recovery: 4 Treatment Options

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Addiction Recovery: 4 Treatment Options

Addiction Recovery Options Addiction, also known as substance use disorder, is a common disorder that causes an inability to control the use of drugs and/or alcohol. People with substance use disorders continue to use drugs or alcohol despite the negative effects it has on their lives, relationships, and health. Addiction recovery is the process by which people stop using substances and begin to work through the underlying issues that caused them to use in the first place. Outlined below are some of the most effective treatment options for addiction recovery, along with their advantages and disadvantages.

Inpatient Rehab & Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs)

For those struggling with serious addiction that requires immediate, intensive treatment, inpatient rehab and intensive outpatient programs are often the best option. Each of these options may be preceded by a medical detox, in which patients are helped through withdrawal from drugs or alcohol with the help of medical professionals and medications.

  • In inpatient rehab, people in addiction recovery spend a period of time in a facility with others who have begun the process of recovery. In these settings, people attend individual and group therapy, 12-step meetings, and engage in activities that help them cultivate new interests aside from the substance they were using.
  • Intensive outpatient programs operate in similar ways to inpatient rehab facilities while allowing patients to mostly carry on with their daily lives. Patients continue to live at home and attend school and work, but attend programs to help with their addiction recovery during evenings and weekends. Advantages of inpatient rehab and IOPs:
  • Medical Assistance: These programs typically provide medical assistance to those in need of it.
  • Effectiveness: These programs provide intensive, consistent care for people at the beginning stages of addiction recovery.
  • Variety: These programs offer a variety of approaches to addiction recovery, including psychotherapy, 12-step programs, medical assistance, and a respite from daily life.
  • Sense of community: Time spent among others who are struggling with the same challenges can foster a strong sense of community, which is a huge benefit for those hoping to achieve addiction recovery. Disadvantages of inpatient rehab and IOPs:
  • Cost: Even with good healthcare coverage, these programs can be very expensive, especially in the United States.
  • Time Commitment: People attending inpatient rehab typically have to leave behind their families, friends, work, and/or school for a significant period of time – sometimes as long as 90 days. This can be very difficult for people with caregiving responsibilities and those who do not have paid leave from their jobs.
  • Difficult transition back to normal life: Especially following a course of inpatient rehab, it can be very challenging to reintegrate into normal life. This is a time when many people relapse without strong support.

Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics

Anonymous AA and NA have been options for people who want to begin the process of addiction recovery for nearly a century. AA was founded in 1935 in Akron, Ohio, while NA came later as a group to help people with drug addiction in the same way. The 12 steps of AA and NA recommend that followers surrender their egos, engage in deep reflection, make amends to those they have harmed during their time using drugs and alcohol, and connect with a "higher power." AA members work the steps with the help of a "sponsor" – a member who has completed all 12 steps and maintained their addiction recovery for at least one year. It is believed that done correctly, these steps can lead to lifelong sobriety. Advantages of AA and NA:

  • Convenience: AA and NA chapters exist all over the world, with meetings held at all times of the day and night.
  • Cost: Meetings are free to attend, with optional donations requested.
  • Access: All are welcome at AA and NA, the only requirement being a desire to engage in addiction recovery. There is no application form or interview. All you have to do is show up.
  • Inclusivity: AA and NA prioritize "principles over personalities," discouraging discussion of politics, religion, and other controversial topics among members.
  • Privacy: Anonymity is taken very seriously in AA and NA. Members are encouraged to protect the identities of their fellow members, and it is common for only first names to be used at meetings. Meeting attendance and member records are not kept.
  • Mutual Support: Community is the cornerstone of AA and NA. Connecting with others is known to be a powerful antidote for addiction. Disadvantages of AA:
  • Layperson-Run: AA runs on the volunteer work of its members. Meeting facilitators are fellow alcoholics in recovery, not medical or mental health professionals.
  • Unknown Efficacy: While adherents to the program's philosophy offer anecdotal evidence of its effectiveness, there is not sufficient data to demonstrate how effective it actually is for addiction recovery. Research studies on AA and NA are notoriously difficult because their members typically remain anonymous.
  • One-Size-Fits-All Approach: Some argue that the philosophical underpinnings of AA's approach may not be right for everyone. It has been suggested that the imperative to declare "powerlessness" and shed one's ego could be counterproductive for certain individuals.

Individual and Group Psychotherapy

Individual and group therapy can be helpful in achieving sobriety. A therapist providing individual therapy and/or group therapy can be an excellent source of support in a safe and controlled environment. However, individual and group therapy work in different ways when it comes to recovery. Individual Therapy: Individual therapy, also known as "talk therapy," is a highly effective way to get to the root of addiction or change behaviors that contribute to addiction. There are three types of individual psychotherapy:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This highly structured, time-limited, and goal-oriented therapy helps clients change specific behaviors in the short term.
  • Integrative Therapy: This therapy pulls from various therapeutic modalities, tailoring therapy to an individual's needs.
  • Psychodynamic / Psychoanalytic Therapy: These therapeutic modalities help individuals gain insight into the motivations behind their behavior. In addition to working through the issues that led to addiction and changing supporting behaviors, a good therapist can help connect patients with other addiction recovery resources. Group Therapy: Group therapy provides a safe and structured environment, under the guidance of a licensed mental health professional, for connecting with others struggling with addiction. Like individual therapy, group therapy is effective in tackling root problems and negative patterns that perpetuate addiction. The support and encouragement from fellow group members can be particularly effective in addiction recovery. Advantages of Therapy:
  • Evidence-Based: Regardless of the therapeutic modality used, there is evidence to support its effectiveness.
  • Professionally Facilitated: Therapists are highly educated professionals with years of training in their field. They are required to pass rigorous exams before being licensed to practice. Disadvantages of Therapy:
  • Cost: Therapy can be costly, even with health insurance. Some therapists do not accept health insurance.

Medication Assisted Treatment

The evidence in favor of medication-assisted treatment for addiction recovery is rapidly growing, but it remains controversial in some circles. Several medications, available by prescription, can be helpful in treating alcohol and drug addiction. Examples include:

  • Naltrexone (Vivitrol or Revia): Blocks opioid receptors in the brain, reducing alcohol cravings.
  • Buprenorphine (Suboxone or Naloxone): An opioid partial agonist that helps with withdrawal effects and reduces cravings.
  • Methadone: A long-acting opioid agonist that reduces cravings and physical withdrawal effects.
  • Acamprosate (Campral): Affects brain receptors to reduce alcohol cravings.
  • Disulfiram (Antabuse): Prevents the breakdown of alcohol, causing severe illness when alcohol is consumed. Managing cravings with medication can be highly effective in helping individuals remain clean and sober. Physicians, psychiatrists, or nurse practitioners can prescribe these medications and others indicated for addiction treatment. Advantages of Medication Assisted Treatment:
  • Fast-Acting: Medications can act quickly and be useful in emergency situations.
  • Evidence-Based: There is growing evidence that medication can be an effective part of a recovery plan. Disadvantages of Medication Assisted Treatment:
  • Cost: Cost can be a barrier to accessing medication-assisted treatment.
  • Short-Term: Medication can be effective but may not be a long-term solution to the underlying issues of addiction. While substance use disorders can be difficult to manage, addiction recovery is possible. These are just a few of the options available to those in need of help with their addictions.

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