Medication and behavioral therapy, whether alone or as one program, are components of a complete therapeutic process that typically commences with detoxification, followed by main treatment and eventually, relapse prevention. Ongoing care centered on a tailor-made treatment program that targets every area of a person’s life – mental, physical, emotional, etc. – as well as follow-up alternatives (family-focused support, for example) can be key to the individual’s success in rebuilding a drug-free lifestyle.
A lot of medications have been developed to manage and treat withdrawal symptoms, and may be used to assist with other parts of the treatment process too. Two examples of medications known to help restore normal brain function, reduce cravings, and prevent relapse are methadone and buprenorphine. Both these medications, however, are used case-to-case, and never as a substitute for traditional behavioral therapy. Other treatment providers are inclined to use more natural means of helping drug abuse victims through recovery, like meditation and acupuncture.
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Behavioral therapy helps make patients more engaged in the treatment process, increasing their willingness to change their drug abuse-related attitudes and behaviors and build on their healthy life skills. Behavioral treatments can also boost medications’ effectiveness and help make people remain in treatment longer.
Outpatient behavioral treatment includes a large array of programs intended for patients who visit a center regularly. Majority of these programs involve group or individual drug counseling. Some programs also use other kinds of behavioral treatment, including:
> Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which helps patients avoid situations in which they may abuse drugs;
> Motivational Incentives (also called contingency management), where positive reinforcement is used in encouraging abstinence from drugs;
> Multidimensional Family Therapy, which identifies and addresses the different influences on the drug abuse patterns that exist among adolescents; and
> Motivational Interviewing, which is centered on the person’s readiness for behavior changes and treatment.
Residential treatment programs may also be effective, particularly for those dealing with more serious problems.Therapeutic communities (TCs), for instance, are highly structured programs that require patients remain to remain at a residence for around a year or half a year. Patients in TCs can be those who with relatively long drug addiction histories, criminal backgrounds, and individuals with seriously impaired social functioning. Such program is designed to re-socialize the patient and make his lifestyle drug and crime-free again.
Treatment within the criminal justice system is usually successful in keeping an offender away from crime, especially if he continues to be treated as he returns to his community. Based on studies, treatment can be effective, whether or not the person volunteered for it. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s findings suggest that treatment can reduce arrests by as much 64%, criminal activity by up to 80 percent and drug abuse overall by at least half.