There are many addictive drugs, and treatments for specific drugs
can differ. Treatment also varies depending on the characteristics
of the patient.
Problems associated with an individual's drug addiction can vary
significantly. People who are addicted to drugs come from all walks
of life. Many suffer from mental health, occupational, health, or
social problems that make their addictive disorders much more difficult
to treat. Even if there are few associated problems, the severity
of addiction itself ranges widely among people.
A variety of scientifically based approaches to drug addiction
treatment exists. Drug addiction treatment can include behavioral
therapy (such as counseling, cognitive therapy, or psychotherapy),
medications, or their combination. Behavioral therapies offer people
strategies for coping with their drug cravings, teach them ways
to avoid drugs and prevent relapse, and help them deal with relapse
if it occurs. When a person's drug-related behavior places him or
her at higher risk for AIDS or other infectious diseases, behavioral
therapies can help to reduce the risk of disease transmission. Case
management and referral to other medical, psychological, and social
services are crucial components of treatment for many patients.
(See Treatment Section for more detail on types of treatment and
treatment components.) The best programs provide a combination of
therapies and other services to meet the needs of the individual
patient, which are shaped by such issues as age, race, culture,
sexual orientation, gender, pregnancy, parenting, housing, and employment,
as well as physical and sexual abuse.
Drug addiction treatment can include behavioral therapy, medications,
or their combination.
Treatment medications, such as methadone, LAAM, and naltrexone,
are available for individuals addicted to opiates. Nicotine preparations
(patches, gum, nasal spray) and bupropion are available for individuals
addicted to nicotine.
Components of Comprehensive Drug
[Click to Enlarge]
The best treatment programs provide a combination of therapies
and other services to meet the needs of the individual patient.
Medications, such as antidepressants, mood stabilizers, or neuroleptics,
may be critical for treatment success when patients have co-occurring
mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety disorder, bipolar
disorder, or psychosis.
Treatment can occur in a variety of settings, in many different
forms, and for different lengths of time. Because drug addiction
is typically a chronic disorder characterized by occasional relapses,
a short-term, one-time treatment often is not sufficient. For many,
treatment is a long-term process that involves multiple interventions
and attempts at abstinence.
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Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment
A Research-Based Guide
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Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse
Booklet NCADI #BKD347