Seeking help


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The goal of drug abuse treatment is to stop drug use and allow people to lead active lives in the family, workplace, and community. One continual challenge, however, is keeping patients in treatment long enough for them to achieve this goal. That is why finding the right treatment for a person's specific needs is critical. Drug abuse treatment is not "one size fits all." Treatment outcomes depend on the:

-- extent and nature of the person's problems;

-- appropriateness of treatment;

-- availability of additional services; and

-- quality of interaction between the person and his or her treatment providers.

Family and friends can play important roles in motivating people with drug problems to enter and remain in treatment. However, trying to identify the right treatment programs for a loved one can be a difficult process.
To help, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) created this brief guide containing five questions to ask when searching for a treatment program.

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Seeking help

  1. 1. EducationHealth TopicsSeeking help
  2. 2. 1OverviewThe goal of drug abuse treatment is to stop druguse and allow people to lead active lives in thefamily, workplace, and community. One continualchallenge, however, is keeping patients intreatment long enough for them to achieve thisgoal. That is why finding the right treatment for apersons specific needs is critical. Drug abusetreatment is not "one size fits all." Treatmentoutcomes depend on the:
  3. 3. 2Overview-- extent and nature of the persons problems;-- appropriateness of treatment;-- availability of additional services; and-- quality of interaction between the person andhis or her treatment providers.
  4. 4. 3OverviewFamily and friends can play important roles inmotivating people with drug problems to enterand remain in treatment. However, trying toidentify the right treatment programs for a lovedone can be a difficult process.To help, the National Institute on Drug Abuse(NIDA) created this brief guide containing fivequestions to ask when searching for a treatmentprogram.
  5. 5. 4Treatments vs. ScienceEffective drug abuse treatments can includebehavioral therapy, medications, or, ideally, theircombination.Behavioral therapies vary in focus and may involve:addressing a patients motivation to change;
  6. 6. 5Treatments vs. Scienceproviding incentives to stop taking drugs;building skills to resist drug use;replacing drug-using activities with constructiveand rewarding activities;improving problem-solving skills; and
  7. 7. 6Treatments vs. Sciencebuilding better personal relationships.Examples of Behavioral Therapies-- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Seeks to helppatients recognize, avoid, and cope with thesituations in which they are most likely to abusedrugs.
  8. 8. 7Treatments vs. Science-- Motivational Incentives. Uses positivereinforcement such as providing rewards orprivileges for remaining drug free, for participatingin counseling sessions, or for taking treatmentmedications as prescribed.-- Motivational Interviewing. Uses strategies toencourage rapid and self-driven behavior changeto stop drug use and help a patient entertreatment.
  9. 9. 8Treatments vs. Science-- Group Therapy. Helps patients face their drugabuse realistically, come to terms with its harmfulconsequences, and boost their motivation to staydrug free. Patients learn how to resolve theiremotional and personal problems without abusingdrugs.
  10. 10. 9Treatments vs. ScienceMedications are an important part of treatment formany patients, especially when combined withcounseling and other behavioral therapies.Different types of medications may be useful atdifferent stages of treatment: to stop drug abuse,to stay in treatment, and to avoid relapse.
  11. 11. 10Tailoring TreatmentNo single treatment is right for everyone. The besttreatment addresses a persons various needs, notjust his or her drug abuse.
  12. 12. 11Tailoring TreatmentMatching treatment settings, programs, andservices to a persons unique problems and level ofneed is key to his or her ultimate success inreturning to a productive life. It is important forthe treatment approach to be broad in scope,taking into account a persons age, gender,ethnicity, and culture. The severity of addictionand previous efforts to stop using drugs can alsoinfluence a treatment approach.
  13. 13. 12Tailoring TreatmentThe best programs provide a combination oftherapies and other services to meet a patientsneeds. In addition to drug abuse treatment, apatient may require other medical services, familytherapy, parenting support, job training, and socialand legal services.
  14. 14. 13Tailoring TreatmentFinally, because addictive disorders and othermental disorders often occur together, a personwith one of these conditions should be assessedfor the other. And when these problems co-occur,treatment should address both (or all conditions),including use of medications, as appropriate.Medications Available To Treat Drug Addiction
  15. 15. 14Tailoring TreatmentCurrently, medications are available to treat opioid,tobacco, and alcohol addictions:-- Methadone, buprenorphine (Subutex,Suboxone), and naltrexone (including the long-acting formulation Vivitrol) are used to treatpeople addicted to opiates (e.g., heroin,prescription pain relievers);
  16. 16. 15Tailoring Treatment-- Nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, nasal spray, andthe medications varenicline (Chantix) andbupropion (Wellbutrin) are used to treat tobaccoaddiction; and-- Disulfiram, acamprosate (Campral), naltrexone,and topiramate (Topamax) are used for treatingalcohol dependence.
  17. 17. 16Tailoring TreatmentMedical detoxification is a necessary first step inthe treatment of certain addictions, but by itselfdoes little to change long-term drug use.
  18. 18. 17Adaptation of TreatmentIndividual treatment and service plans must beassessed and modified as needed to meetchanging needs.A person in treatment may requirevarying combinations of services during its course,including ongoing assessment. For instance, theprogram should build in drug monitoring so thetreatment plan can be adjusted if relapse occurs.For most people, a continuing care approachprovides the best results, with treatment leveladapted to a persons changing needs.A patientsneeds for support services
  19. 19. 18Adaptation of TreatmentThe best programs provide a combination oftherapies and other services to meet a patientsneeds.
  20. 20. 19Duration of TreatmentRemaining in treatment for the right period of timeis critical.Appropriate time in treatment dependson the type and degree of a persons problems andneeds. Research tells us that most addicted peopleneed at least 3 months in treatment to reallyreduce or stop their drug use and that longertreatment times result in better outcomes. Thebest programs will measure progress and suggestplans for maintaining recovery. Recovery from drugaddiction is a long-term process that often requiressevera
  21. 21. 20Duration of TreatmentThe chronic nature of addiction means thatrelapsing to drug abuse is not only possible, butlikely, similar to what happens with other chronicmedical illnesses-such as diabetes, hypertension,and asthma-that have both physical and behavioralcomponents.And like these illnesses, addiction also requirescontinual evaluation and treatment modification ifnecessary.
  22. 22. 21Duration of TreatmentA relapse to drug use indicates a need to re-instateor adjust treatment strategy; it does not meantreatment has failed.
  23. 23. 2212-Step ProgramsSelf-help groups can complement and extend theeffects of professional treatment.
  24. 24. 2312-Step ProgramsThe most well-known programs are AlcoholicsAnonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), andCocaine Anonymous (CA), all of which are basedon the 12-step model. This group therapy modeldraws on the social support offered by peerdiscussion to help promote and sustain drug-freelifestyles.
  25. 25. 2412-Step ProgramsMost drug addiction treatment programsencourage patients to participate in group therapyduring and after formal treatment. These groupsoffer an added layer of community-level socialsupport to help people in recovery with abstinenceand other healthy lifestyle goals.