Treatment for a Patient
This page is designed for healthcare professionals who are assisting their patients in finding addiction treatment.
What to Know About Effective Drug Treatment
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has published a research-based guide outlining principles of drug abuse treatment. Here are the main principles:1
- Addiction is a complicated and chronic condition that affects the brain; however, it is treatable.
- No particular treatment method will work for every person.
- Treatment must be accessible.
- For treatment to be effective, it must address the many needs of an individual.
- Attending treatment for a sufficient period of time is essential.
- The most commonly used types of treatment are behavioral therapies.
- Medications can serve as an integral part of treatment, particularly in combination with counseling and therapy.
- The treatment plan must go through ongoing assessment and be modified to ensure it addresses the recovering individual’s changing needs.
- It is common for addicted individuals to have co-occurring mental disorders.
- Detox is only the first step in addiction recovery and will have little long-term benefit if unaccompanied by further treatment.
- Even involuntary treatment can be effective.
- Treatment requires continual monitoring due to the risk of relapse.
- Treatment programs should provide testing for HIV and other infectious diseases and provide risk-reduction counseling as well as a connection to treatment, should it be required.
If your patient is suffering from a substance addiction, there are a number of treatment programs for you to suggest and provide education on. It’s important that you outline the two types of recovery programs, inpatient and outpatient, and explain the specific options and therapeutic approaches so that he or she can make an informed decision.
- Inpatient treatment hospital.
- Inpatient rehab/recovery center.
- Medication and medical supervision.
- Individual therapy.
- Group therapy.
- Alternative approaches, such as yoga, equine therapy, and more.
- Luxury rehab.
- Executive rehab.
- Partial hospitalization.
- Intensive outpatient (IOP).
- Outpatient substance abuse program.
- Psychotherapy or counseling.
- Support groups.
Predictors of Success in Treatment
Dr. Don Meichenbaum, one of the founders of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), highlights 5 factors that predict success in addiction treatment 2. You may wish to encourage your patient to ask how potential treatment centers address theses 5 factors:
- The therapeutic alliance: The quality of the connection between clients and treatment staff.
- Client engagement: How engaged the client remains in treatment and how active he is in his recovery process.
- Perception: How the client believes his condition is improving during treatment.
- Relapse prevention and aftercare: Creation of a comprehensive aftercare/discharge plan to follow upon leaving treatment.
Individualized treatment and feedback: Design and continual adaptation of an individualized program based on moment-to-moment successes or struggles of the client and on evidenced-based outcomes of others who have previously attended the program.
Dr. Meichenbaum has also written a letter to treatment centers for consumers to use that incorporates specific questions about these elements of treatment.
Here are some example questions based on this letter that your patient can pose to treatment facilities:
- Can you describe how the therapeutic alliance is developed and monitored at your facility?
- How do staff members engage clients in goal setting and developing their long-term recovery plan?
- Are dual diagnosis patients treated at your facility? What does treatment for dual diagnosis look like?
- What does your aftercare/discharge planning look like? Are others (family, sponsors, etc.) involved in the plan?
- How effective has your treatment program been in helping clients become sober or reduce substance use? Do you have any data you can share?
Helping Your Patient Find a Treatment Center
Below are several avenues of finding treatment for your patient. It may be best to explore these programs collaboratively so that you can find an appropriate option based on your patient’s individual needs. Some questions you should ask your patient when searching for a suitable recovery center include:
- Do you have insurance? If so, do you know if it covers addiction treatment? If not, suggest financing options (marketplace insurance, healthcare credit cards, loans, etc.).
- Do you want to stay close to home or travel for treatment?
- Do you prefer a religious or evidence-based treatment model?
- Would you rather live at home or reside at the treatment facility?
- Do you have any known mental health conditions?
- Are you able to take time away from home, work, or school responsibilities for treatment?
- Would you like family members involved in your recovery process (i.e. family therapy, visitors, family education, and relapse prevention groups).
If your patient isn’t sure about what their insurance plan covers, advise them to contact their insurance company to learn about recovery options that are covered. Additionally, you can gather information by:
- Calling our 1-888-851-2649 Who Answers? to learn about different treatment options.
- Searching our directory for recovery programs.
- Looking for 12-step programs, such as Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous, in your patient’s area.
- Searching for alternative groups, such as SMART Recovery or Secular Organizations for Sobriety, that don’t integrate religion into recovery.
- Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide
- Principles of Adolescent Substance Use Disorder Treatment: A Research-Based Guide
- Step-By-Step Treatment Guides (for patients and concerned loved ones)
- Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction
- Seeking Drug Abuse Treatment: Know What to Ask
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (2012). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition).
- Meichenbaum, D. (2016, February). Treatment of Clients with Substance Abuse and Co-Occurring Disorders. Presented at 37th Annual Training Institute on Behavioral Health and Addictive Disorders, Clearwater Beach, FL.