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Treatment Options for Substance Abuse


According to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health 21.5 million Americans (ages 12 and older) had suffered with substance abuse disorders. As professionals spread awareness through educational resources, more treatment options have become available. Medical research has led to the acknowledgement that addiction is in fact a disease. A disorder that is not simply based on lack of will power nor an issue of morality, addiction requires precise and multiple options for treatment and ultimately recovery.



12 Steps/Alcoholics Anonymous


The 12 Steps were created by the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. In earlier years, the goal of these founders was to help find a solution that worked for other addicts seeking recovery. AA has maintained the sanctity of this program by refusing to charge for the 12 Steps or membership. The 12 Steps provide a guide that ultimately leads the addict to identify past harms/traumas, fully admit their wrongdoings, make amends, identify unhealthy behaviors, create humility through connecting with spirituality/higher power, and cultivating hope through helping other alcoholics achieve sobriety. The fellowship and anonymity of AA and the 12 Steps have proven to be successful over the years for any addict pursuing sobriety.


Long Term Inpatient Vs. Intensive Outpatient Treatment


During long term inpatient rehabilitation, the patient is usually housed in a substance free facility for a substantial amount of time. This type of treatment provides around the clock therapeutic and medical care while temporarily keeping the patient away from potential triggers. Inpatient rehab has proven to be most beneficial for those dealing with chronic substance abuse disorder and co-occurring disorders.


Intensive outpatient treatment provides many of the same benefits as inpatient rehabilitation. Group therapy, behavioral therapy, as well as individualized therapy are often included in the program. Patients are not isolated and protected from triggers, however this treatment method has proven to be effective for those that must continue work to provide and care for their children or other family members. It is important to remember, any addict can stay sober by maintaining consistency in recommended treatment and establishing a strong support system.


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Vs. Dialectical Behavior Therapy


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a short-term psychotherapy that promotes problem solving skills. CBT primarily focuses on solutions rather than revisiting old problems. This method of therapy encourages development of new coping strategies, changing detrimental cognitive thinking, and problem solving skills. CBT has also been used in treating co-occurring disorders as well.


Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) works to address co-occurring disorders simultaneously. Enhancing behavioral skills, through mindfulness and emotional regulation, is the primary focus of DBT. This type of treatment encourages stress management, decreases impulsivity, and aims to strengthen self esteem through discipline and structure.


Mindfulness Meditation


The disease of addiction stems from a malady of the brain, a chemical imbalance like one commonly seen with other mental disorders. Mindfulness meditation helps individuals identify what is causing their intense cravings. Mindfulness meditation encourages inner calm and detachment from discomfort. Focusing on eliminating impulsivity by connecting the addict to their innermost self, this treatment method has proven to be successful in preventing future relapse and maintaining spiritual wholeness.


It is important to remember that before attempting any type of treatment, it is crucial for an addict to receive the proper medical treatment while detoxing. Prolonged use of any mood or mind altering substance substantially affects the individual mentally and physically. It is important for the addict and his/her support to remember there is no cure for addiction, but rather multiple options available to best suite the individual’s needs for treatment in hopes of achieving long term sobriety. The overall goal is to achieve long term sobriety, relapse prevention, and manage any mental/physical ailment with further treatment.