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What is Treatment?

Addiction is a chronic disease like diabetes or heart disease. It can be successfully treated, but not cured. People in treatment for drug and alcohol addiction generally receive a combination of services that may include education and awareness about the addictive disease process, behavioral therapies, life skills training, and medications to suppress cravings and the withdrawal syndrome. Behavioral therapies can include individual and group therapy, family counseling, and support groups. Life management skill building concentrates on the habilitation/rehabilitation of the individual and may include social and vocational training, educational services, parenting and coping skills training. Treatment services may also draw upon spiritual approaches found in 12-step programs such as Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous.

The ultimate goal of all drug and alcohol treatment is to enable the patient to achieve lasting abstinence, but the immediate goals are to reduce use, improve the patient’s ability to function, and minimize medical and social complications. The most successful treatment is based on individual needs which take into consideration personality, social environment, background, mental condition, and drug use experience. Treatment services can be offered in a variety of modalities and settings:

Detoxification: Programs requiring specialized care which are often a first step in the treatment process. Detoxification provides medical and supportive services to alleviate the symptoms and dangers of physical withdrawal from chemical dependence.

24 Hour Residential or Hospital: Programs in which the individual lives in the facility while participating in treatment processes. This is a restrictive, structured and protective type of program and is appropriate for those who have a serious substance abuse problem and do not have a stable social support system in the community. Inpatient treatment provides comprehensive services, constant support during the early stages of sobriety and close supervision. Typical residential treatment can last from 21 to 90 days.

Therapeutic Communities: Residential programs in which patients rely heavily on peer influence and may stay at a facility for up to 12 months. These programs provide a highly structured milieu, and clients must successfully move through a series of progressive stages. Each stage offers more freedom and demands more responsibility. This modality has been considered appropriate for hard-core drug users involved in criminal activity.

Outpatient and Partial Hospitalization: Programs designed to achieve and maintain abstinence while the individual remains in the community. These programs are most appropriate for individuals with stable living environments and social supports or as a follow-up to residential treatment. Partial hospitalization or day treatment involves participation in intensive treatment during working hours while returning home in the evening. Outpatient services allow individuals to work and live at home while receiving short treatment intervals. The course of outpatient treatment can be short or long-term.

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