Drug rehab is intended to aid addicted individuals stop compulsive drug seeking and use. Treatment can occur in a variety of settings, take many different forms, and last for different lengths of time. Because drug addiction is typically a chronic disorder characterized by occasional relapses, a short-term, one-time treatment is usually not sufficient. For many, treatment is a long-term process that involves multiple interventions and regular monitoring.
Components of comprehensive drug abuse treatment include assessment, treatment planning, pharmacotherapy, behavioral therapy, substance use monitoring, case management, support groups, and continuing care as well as child Care, vocational, mental health, medical, educational, HIV/AIDS, legal, financial, housing/transportation, and family services.
There are a variety of evidence-based approaches to treating addiction. drug rehab can include behavioral therapy (such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or contingency management), medications, or their combination. The specific type of treatment or combination of treatments will vary depending on the patient’s individual needs and, often, on the types of drugs they use.
Drug addiction treatment can include medications, behavioral therapies, or their combination.
Treatment medications, such as methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone (including a new long-acting formulation), are available for individuals addicted to opioids, while nicotine preparations (patches, gum, lozenges, and nasal spray) and the medications varenicline and bupropion are available for individuals addicted to tobacco. Disulfiram, acamprosate, and naltrexone are medications available for treating alcohol dependence,1 which commonly co-occurs with other drug addictions, including addiction to prescription medications.
Treatments for prescription drug abuse tend to be similar to those for illicit drugs that affect the same brain systems. For example, buprenorphine, used to treat heroin addiction, can also be used to treat addiction to opioid pain medications. Addiction to prescription stimulants, which affect the same brain systems as illicit stimulants like cocaine, can be treated with behavioral therapies, as there are not yet medications for treating addiction to these types of drugs.
Behavioral therapies can help motivate people to participate in drug rehab, offer strategies for coping with drug cravings, teach ways to avoid drugs and prevent relapse, and help individuals deal with relapse if it occurs. Behavioral therapies can also help people improve communication, relationship, and parenting skills, as well as family dynamics.
Many drug rehabilitation programs employ both individual and group therapies. Group therapy can provide social reinforcement and help enforce behavioral contingencies that promote abstinence and a non-drug-using lifestyle. Some of the more established behavioral treatments, such as contingency management and cognitive-behavioral therapy, are also being adapted for group settings to improve efficiency and cost-effectiveness. However, particularly in adolescents, there can also be a danger of unintended harmful (or iatrogenic) effects of group treatment—sometimes group members (especially groups of highly delinquent youth) can reinforce drug use and thereby derail the purpose of the therapy. Thus, trained counselors should be aware of and monitor for such effects.
Because they work on different aspects of addiction, combinations of behavioral therapies and medications (when available) generally appear to be more effective than either approach used alone.
What Happens During Drug Rehab?
STEP 1. Assessment
When you go to drug rehab, you will first sit down with a counselor or admissions staff and complete a series of written or verbal interviews. This immediate process of intake and assessment is essential to your stay in a rehab center. During this process, drug rehab personnel assess your current condition, define the nature of drug use/addiction and determine a specific treatment plan for you as an individual. This phase of drug rehab typically includes a drug test and interview(s) using a standardized questionnaire.
STEP 2. Medical detox
Medical detox is helpful for people who have become physically dependent on their drug of choice. It is best to go through withdrawal under medical supervision so that you can receive medicines or support for uncomfortable symptoms. While many inpatient drug rehabs offer medical detox, you may need to seek an outside clinic to detox before starting an outpatient drug rehab program.
During medical detox from drugs, you will experience withdrawal symptoms that will be monitored by medical staff. Medications may or may not be given and administered by staff to assist you with detox and withdrawal symptoms, depending on the severity of your condition. Drug rehab program staff will monitor and stabilize you 24-7 during the process of detox. Medical detox is usually supervised by a medical doctor or psychiatrist and shows best results when the next step of rehab follows immediately.
STEP 3. Psychotherapy, Behavioral Treatments, and Pharmacotherapy
Counseling and psychotherapy is one of the most important phases of drug rehab. This phase includes an analysis of your mental and emotional condition in order to make positive changes in thinking, feeling and behavior in order to prevent relapse. Psychotherapy is usually facilitated in group settings, although some time each week one-on-one meetings will be scheduled with an assigned psychotherapist.
Pharmacotherapy, or the use of prescription medications, will be based on individual need and may be started during medical detox. The decision about the use of medicines in the treatment of drug addiction is largely dependent upon the drug abused, the severity of dependence, and the diagnosis of co-occurring disorders. For example, medications are available for opiate/opioid maintenance therapies, with the intention of reducing craving and interrupting physical dependence. Likewise, antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications may be prescribed after long term use of stimulants.
STEP 4. Education
Education on theories of addiction is an important step during drug rehab, as it gives you knowledge about drug use and its effects. Education empowers you to stay clean and maintain long-term sobriety as you rationally understand more about the brain and the body, and how they related to drug use.
STEP 5. Supportive Services and Aftercare
Supportive services are offered during drug rehab and can include help with social services, financial planning, vocational training, or skills development. Supportive services can also be the final step of drug rehab, as you create a support network outside the drug rehab, including attendance at support groups, counseling, and aftercare services.
Finally, people who are addicted to drugs often suffer from other health (e.g., depression, HIV), occupational, legal, familial, and social problems that should be addressed concurrently. The best programs provide a combination of therapies and other services to meet an individual patient’s needs. Psychoactive medications, such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety agents, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotic medications, may be critical for treatment success when patients have co-occurring mental disorders such as depression, anxiety disorders (including post-traumatic stress disorder), bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. In addition, most people with severe addiction abuse multiple drugs and require treatment for all substances abused.