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Substance Abuse Treatment

Substance Abuse Treatment, Symptoms, Types, Programs, Process & MAT

What is Substance Abuse? 

Alcoholism and drug dependence, and addiction, known as substance use disorders, are complex problems. People with these disorders once were thought to have a character defect or moral weakness; some people mistakenly still believe that. However, most scientists and medical researchers now consider dependence on alcohol or drugs to be a long-term illness, like asthma, hypertension (high blood pressure), or diabetes. Most people who drink alcohol drink very little, and many people can stop taking drugs without struggling. However, some people develop a substance use disorder—the use of alcohol or drugs that is compulsive or dangerous (or both)[1]. Fortunately, there’s a lot of substance abuse treatment obtainable for all kinds of addiction.

Why Do Some People Develop a Problem but Others Don’t? 

Substance use disorder is an illness that can affect anyone: rich or poor, male or female, employed or unemployed, young or old, and any race or ethnicity. Nobody knows precisely what causes it, but the chance of developing a substance use disorder depends partly on genetics— biological traits passed down through families. A person’s environment, psychological characteristics, and stress level also play significant roles by contributing to alcohol or drugs. Researchers have found that using drugs for a long time changes the brain in important, long-lasting ways. It is as if a switch in the brain turned on at some point. This point is different for every person, but when this switch turns

on, the person crosses an invisible line and becomes dependent on the substance. People who start using drugs or alcohol early in life run a greater risk of crossing this line and becoming dependent. These changes in the brain remain long after a person stops using drugs or drinking alcohol. Even though your family member has an illness, it does not excuse the bad behavior that often accompanies it. Your loved one is not at fault for having a disease, but they are responsible for getting treatment.

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What are the Symptoms of Substance Use Disorders? 

One of the most important signs of substance addiction or dependence is the continued use of drugs or alcohol despite experiencing the serious negative consequences of heavy drug or alcohol use. Often, a person will blame other people or circumstances for their problems instead of realizing that the difficulties result from the use of drugs or alcohol. For example, your partner may believe he was fired because his bosses didn’t know how to run a business.

Or your daughter may believe she got a ticket for driving under the influence of alcohol because the police were targeting her. Perhaps your loved one has even blamed you. People with this illness really may believe that they usually drink or that “everyone” takes drugs. These false beliefs are called denial, and denial is part of the illness. Other significant symptoms of substance use disorders include:

There are a number of therapies used during addiction treatment to help those with a substance use disorder. 
There are a number of therapies used during substance abuse treatment to help those with a substance use disorder. 
  • Tolerance: A person will need increasingly more significant amounts of alcohol or drugs to get high. 
  • Craving: A person will feel a strong need, desire, or urge to use alcohol or drugs, will use alcohol or a drug despite adverse consequences, and will feel anxious and irritable if they can’t use them. Craving is a primary symptom of addiction. • Loss of control—A person often will drink more alcohol or take more drugs than they meant to, or may use alcohol or drugs at a time or place they had not planned. A person also may try to reduce or stop drinking or using drugs many times but may fail.
  • Physical Dependence or Withdrawal Symptoms: In some cases, when alcohol or drug use is stopped, a person may experience withdrawal symptoms from a physical need for the substance. Withdrawal symptoms differ depending on the drug, including nausea, sweating, shakiness, and extreme anxiety. The person may try to relieve these symptoms by taking more of the same or a similar substance.

What is Substance Abuse Treatment?

Addiction is a medical disease, and it can be cured only by seeking treatment. Treatment can take place in a variety of locations and for varying lengths of time. It can also involve several different therapeutic components. Some people require a 30-day stay at a drug rehabilitation center. For others, the process begins with outpatient counseling sessions. Treatment may or may not include maintenance medication depending on your alcohol or drug addiction type and severity. For treatment to be effective, you have to commit to counseling and therapy. Finding the correct kind of treatment for substance abuse is essential. With hard work, recovery is possible.

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Who Provides Substance Abuse Treatment? 

Many different kinds of professionals provide treatment for substance use disorders. The primary caregivers are specially trained individuals certified or licensed as substance abuse treatment specialists in most treatment programs. About half of these specialists are people who are in recovery themselves. Many programs have staff from several different ethnic or cultural groups. Most treatment programs assign patients to a treatment team of professionals. Depending on the type of treatment, teams can be made up of social workers, specialists, doctors, nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists, or other professionals.

The high rate of adolescent substance abuse in the United States makes the identification of effective treatment approaches a significant priority.
The high rate of substance abuse treatment in the United States makes the identification of effective treatment approaches a significant priority.

What Will Happen First During Substance Abuse Treatment?

Everyone entering treatment receives a clinical assessment. A complete evaluation of an individual is needed to help treatment professionals offer the treatment that best suits them. The assessment also helps program specialists work with the person to design an effective treatment plan. Although clinical assessment continues throughout a person’s treatment, it starts at or just before admission to a treatment program. 

The counselor will begin by gathering information about the person, asking many questions such as those about:

  • Kinds, amount, and length of time of substance or alcohol use 
  • Educational background and needs 
  • Current living situation and environment 
  • Employment history, stability, concerns, and needs 
  • Cultural issues around the use of alcohol or drugs 
  • Effects of drug or alcohol use on the person’s life 
  • Medical history
  • Family and social problems and needs 
  • Legal or financial problems 
  • School performance, references, and wants, if relevant 
  • Current medical problems or needs 
  • Current medications (including pain medication) 
  • Mental health issues or behavioral problems 
  • Previous treatment experiences or attempts to quit drug or alcohol use

What Types of Substance Abuse Treatment Programs are Available? 

The severity and type of addiction affect the kind of substance abuse treatment that’s most appropriate for you. Almost every person with an addiction requires some form of detox to clear alcohol and other drugs from the body. More severe addictions require inpatient or residential treatment. Partial hospitalization provides a moderate level of care, and outpatient treatment provides the lowest level of care.

Several Types of Substance Abuse treatment Programs are Available[2]: 
  • Inpatient Substance Abuse Treatment: provided in special units of hospitals or medical clinics, offers both detoxification and rehabilitation services.
  • Partial Hospitalization or Day Treatment: programs also may be provided in hospitals or free-standing clinics. In these programs, the person attends therapy for 4 to 8 hours but lives at home. These programs usually last for at least three months and work best for people who have a stable, supportive home environment.
  • Outpatient and Intensive Outpatient Programs: provide treatment at a program site, but the person lives elsewhere (usually at home). Outpatient treatment is offered in various places: health clinics, community mental health clinics, specialists ’ offices, hospital clinics, local health department offices, or residential programs with outpatient clinics.

  • Residential Substance Abuse Treatment Programs: provide a living environment with treatment services. Several residential treatment models (such as the therapeutic community) exist, and treatment in these programs lasts from a month to a year or more. The programs differ in some ways, but they are similar in many ways.
  • Methadone Clinics (also called opioid treatment programs): sometimes known as methadone clinics, offer medication-assisted outpatient treatment for people dependent on opioid drugs (such as heroin, OxyContin, or Vicodin). These programs use medication, such as methadone or LAAM to help a person not use illicit opioids. OTPs provide counseling and other services along with the medication. 

Programs, services, and treatments vary. We Level Up rehab center offers inpatient substance abuse treatment. Offering co-occurring treatments. We treat the entirety of addiction and behavioral health disorders including their secondary corresponding illnesses to improve long-term recovery outcomes. Get a free health assessment and find out what treatment options are most suitable for you. Call to learn more.

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What Happens in Substance Abuse Treatment Programs?

Although treatment programs differ, the essential ingredients of treatment are similar. Therefore, most programs include many or all elements presented below[1]. 

  • Medical Care: Programs in hospitals can provide this care on-site. Other outpatient or residential programs may have doctors and nurses come to the program site for a few days each week, or a person may be referred to different places for medical care. Medical care typically includes screening and treatment for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, tuberculosis, and women’s health issues.
  • A Treatment Plan: The treatment team and the person in treatment develop a treatment plan based on the assessment. A treatment plan is a written guide to treatment that includes the person’s goals, treatment activities designed to help him or she meets those goals, ways to tell whether a plan has been completed, and a timeframe for meeting goals.  
  • Group and Individual Counseling: At first, individual counseling generally focuses on motivating the person to stop using drugs or alcohol. Treatment then shifts to helping the person stay drug and alcohol-free.
  • Individual Assignments: People in treatment may be asked to read certain things (or listen to audiotapes), complete written assignments (or record them on audiotapes), or try new behaviors.
  • Education About Substance Use Disorders: People learn about the symptoms and the effects of alcohol and drug use on their brains and bodies. Education groups use videotapes or audiotapes, lectures, or activities to help people learn about their illness and manage it.
  • Life Skills Training: This training can include learning and practicing employment skills, leisure activities, social skills, communication skills, anger management, stress management, goal setting, and money and time management.
  • Testing for Alcohol or Drug Use: Program staff members regularly take urine samples from people for drug testing. Some programs are starting to test saliva instead of urine. They also may use a BreathalyzerTM to test people for alcohol use. 
  • Relapse Prevention Training: Relapse prevention training teaches people how to identify their relapse triggers, how to cope with cravings, how to develop plans for handling stressful situations, and what to do if they relapse. Motivation is anything that makes a person crave a drug. Triggers often are connected to the person’s past use, such as a person they used drugs with, a time or place, drug use paraphernalia (such as syringes, a pipe, or a bong), or a particular situation or emotion. 
  • Assessment: As we discussed earlier, all treatment programs begin with a clinical evaluation of a person’s individual treatment needs. This assessment helps in the development of an effective treatment plan. 
  • Orientation to Self-Help Groups: Participants in self-help groups support and encourage one another to become or stay drug and alcohol-free. Twelve-Step programs are perhaps the best known of the self-help groups. These programs include Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Cocaine Anonymous, and Marijuana Anonymous. Other self-help groups include SMART (Self Management and Recovery Training), Recovery, and Women for Sobriety. 

Substance Abuse Treatment Process

The addiction treatment process begins when you reach out to a rehab facility, hospital, or therapist for treatment. You may receive a brief assessment over the phone, but the full intake and assessment process happens in rehab. You may begin with inpatient detox and transition through the types of treatment, or you may start with outpatient detox. The course you take depends on the severity of your condition.

Treatment for substance use disorders can take many different forms and may be delivered in a range of settings varying in intensity.
Treatment for substance use disorders can take many different forms and may be delivered in a range of settings varying in intensity.
  • Admissions: During admissions, most admissions representatives will talk to you about your addiction, payment methods, and the services that their facility offers. If the facility has the appropriate types of services for your condition and you’re capable of paying for treatment, you’ll discuss how quickly you can begin treatment.
  • Intake: When you arrive at the facility, you’ll undergo a complete health assessment. Health professionals will ask about your history of substance abuse, relevant medical conditions, and family life during this stage. You’ll also undergo a brief orientation that introduces you to the facility’s rules and policies.
  • Length of Treatment: The length of rehab for substance abuse depends on the severity of your condition, the type of substances you’re addicted to, and the presence of any co-occurring mental health disorders. Opioid addiction may require a month of inpatient treatment and years of outpatient medication-assisted treatment. Minor alcohol addiction may require a few months of outpatient therapy.

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Complements to Treatment

Other types of therapeutic activities may aid in recovery from addiction. These complements to therapy may not directly address underlying causes of addiction or how to cope with cravings. But they may help you view situations from a different perspective or cope with stressors. Popular complements to traditional therapy include:

  • Animal-assisted therapy
  • Holistic treatments
  • Yoga and mindfulness

Some examples of holistic therapies that may benefit you during addiction treatment include art therapy and journaling.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medication-assisted treatment is a complement to behavioral therapy. Some medications can reduce symptoms of withdrawal during detox from certain drugs. Others can reduce cravings during the recovery process. No remedies are currently available for cocaine, methamphetamine, or marijuana addiction. Medications for alcohol or drug addictions include:

  • Acamprosate (Campral)
  • Methadone
  • Naltrexone (Vivitrol, ReVia)
  • Buprenorphine (Suboxone)
  • Disulfiram (Antabuse)

Where to Find Top-rated Substance Abuse Treatment?

Quality substance abuse treatment is available in a variety of health care settings. The best setting for you depends on the type of treatment you require and what’s available near you. Some rehab centers only provide inpatient detox or inpatient therapy. Private therapists usually offer outpatient counseling. Comprehensive treatment programs provide each type of treatment.

At We Level Up inpatient substance abuse treatment centers, top-rated programs provide world-class care with round-the-clock medical professionals available to help you cope. Make this your opportunity to reclaim your life. Call today to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our specialists know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.

We Level Up treatment center can help with inpatient therapy programs exclusively. Depending on the extent of secondary behavioral disorders such as addiction we can first help assess your condition and thereafter guide you to suitable treatment options. We do not provide outpatient and PHP services at this time. Call to learn more.

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[2] National Institute on Drug Abuse (2012, December). Types of Treatment Programs –

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