What is Drug Addiction Treatment?

What is drug addiction treatment? The exact treatment methods may vary from facility to facility, but all drug treatment starts in the same place: detox. The body must be clean of the drug of abuse before any kind of recovery treatment can begin. This detox phase lasts as long as it needs to to complete the process, but it’s usually anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. It cannot be rushed. The body needs time to adjust, and withdrawal from alcohol and benzodiazepines can be dangerous if done too fast. Opioids produce severe withdrawal symptoms that will likely prevent the client from participating in recovery treatment anyway, so this also cannot be forced.

Medications to help with the withdrawal process depend on the drug or drugs involved but typically may include:

  • Methadone
  • Suboxone
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Clonidine
  • Sleeping aids
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Stomach medications like famotidine or Mylanta
  • Antidepressants
  • Non-opioid pain medications

Benzodiazepines are used for withdrawal from both benzodiazepines themselves and for alcohol withdrawal. These drugs cannot be suddenly stopped without risk of potentially fatal complications from grand mal seizures and lung aspiration of stomach contents. Delerium tremens in the case of alcohol detox is another risk factor. A long-acting benzodiazepine like diazepam is typically used for this purpose. Long-acting benzos tend to produce less of a subjective pleasant effect than shorter-acting ones do. This is one reason why Xanax is so much more popular and valuable as a street drug than diazepam, brand name Valium, is.

Management of stimulant withdrawal is nonspecific and focuses on reduction of symptoms as they appear. Opioid withdrawal is more specific because drugs like methadone and Suboxone directly treat the problem in the brain. These drugs bind to the same receptors as heroin, oxycodone, hydrocodone and fentanyl do but not in exactly the same way. Suboxone contains buprenorphine, a semi-synthetic partial agonist opioid that only partially activates the brain’s mu opioid receptor or MOR. It works on the receptor enough to ease cravings and reduce withdrawal symptoms but not enough to produce a high.

Methadone is a full agonist capable of fully activating the MOR, but it has a very slow onset of action. It can take two or three hours for methadone to reach its full effect. This slower action results in far less euphoria. In people tolerant to opioids, there is usually no euphoria at all. The person just feels normal, with no withdrawal symptoms or drug cravings at all.

Drug Recovery Treatment

After detox, there is therapy. This may consist of alternative types of treatment:

  • Equine therapy
  • Animal therapy
  • Art and music
  • Dance and creative writing
  • Water sports and ballet
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Massage
  • Spa and jacuzzi
  • Special nutritional support

The facility may have dogs and cats who live on the premises and offer comfort to the residents. Indeed, after your discharge, you may find that a therapy dog or cat will help you find focus and purpose in your life. Animals offer unconditional love and ask for very little in return.

Group and individual therapy are also evidence-based therapies. Evidence-based means it’s been proven to work. Some common drug treatment protocols include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Motivational Incentives (contingency management)

These therapies must be applied by therapists trained in their use. Not all therapists are necessarily qualified to do this. When choosing a facility, you must ask what kinds of therapy they offer and whether or not it’s evidence-based. Also ask if the place is accredited. This is not the same as licensed. All drug rehabs must be licensed to legally operate by the state in which they are located. Accreditation is a separate endorsement that means the facility has met the highest standards for drug treatment in the industry. Accreditation authorities include CARF and the Joint Commission, but there are others.

If alternative therapy is important to you, make sure the facility offers it. Many do not. Use common sense. If you want equine therapy, a facility located in a big city is unlikely to have that. Be prepared to travel to get the options and amenities you want.

Call us for Help

Call us anytime at 833-846-5669 for information and referrals to the best treatment facilities in your area. We’re here to offer help and hope. Please call.