Which Drug Rehabilitation Treatment is Most Effective?

Which Drug Rehabilitation Treatment is Most EffectiveIf you or your loved one suffer from substance abuse or addiction and you are asking yourself which drug rehabilitation program is most effective, you have already done two things right. First, you have recognized the need and expressed a desire for help to change.

Second, you recognize that drug rehabilitation is not a one-size-fits-all treatment. In fact, because there can be so many factors which underlie a person’s drug addiction, treatment needs to be totally personalized. It is essential that you research your options before choosing a treatment method or program.

Sadly, there are many people who either do not receive treatment or receive ineffective treatment and enter a lifelong cycle that takes them in and out of rehab centers. If you are seeking treatment for yourself or a loved one, you must first accept that there are no quick fixes for drug addiction.

Addiction is a brain disease which physically affects brain circuits involved in reward and motivation, learning and memory and inhibitory control over behavior, making it difficult to treat. Furthermore, treatment sometimes requires long-term continuous or intermittent interventions to support the recovering addict’s sobriety.

What Makes an Effective Program?

Effective programs typically incorporate many components, each directed to a particular aspect of the illness and its consequences. Effective treatment must help an individual do the following:

  • Stop using drugs
  • Maintain a drug-free lifestyle
  • Achieve productive functioning in the family, at work and in society

Fortunately, scientific research has helped improve treatment methods over the years. However, studies have shown that many facilities are not yet incorporating the most effective methods available. Interestingly, the rule “you get what you pay for” doesn’t necessarily apply to drug rehab programs. Findings have shown that often, low-cost, publicly-funded clinics have better qualified therapists and better outcomes than the high-end residential centers typically used by celebrities.

Finding the Right Program for You or Your Loved One

Science writer, Anne M. Fletcher, has dedicated much of her career to discovering what makes an effective drug treatment program. She claims that most people recover from drug addiction completely on their own by attending self-help groups and/or by seeing a counselor or therapist individually. These are five steps which she recommends for researching the right treatment program for you or your loved one.

  • Get an independent assessment of your need for treatment and the kind of treatment necessary. Use an expert who is not affiliated with the program you are considering.
  • Check out the credentials of the program’s personnel, which should include at least Masters degree level education. Physician therapists should be certified by the American Board of Addiction Medicine.
  • Choose a program which fits your beliefs and values.
  • Meet with the therapist to determine what your treatment plan will be. It should be individualized, one-on-one, and with a licensed addiction counselor.
  • Treatment should address the individual’s associated medical, psychological, social, vocational and legal problems, as any of these could be underlying problems which sabotage recovery.

As you meet with a prospective counselor, consider some of these key principles of effective treatment which are offered by the National Institute on Drug Abuse:

  • The treatment must tend to multiple needs of the individual, not just treat the drug addiction.
  • The patient must stay in treatment for an adequate amount of time.
  • Behavioral therapies such as individual and group counseling are the most commonly used treatments.
  • Medications can be effective when combined with other behavioral therapies such as counseling.
  • The treatment plan must be constantly evaluated and adjusted to meet the patient’s needs.
  • Treatment doesn’t always need to be voluntary to be effective.
  • Lapses can and do occur during treatment. Continued monitoring is necessary.
  • Treatment programs should include testing for infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C and tuberculosis.

According to the Genetic Science Learning Center at the University of Utah, the most effective methods used today are a combination of drug and behavioral therapy. With 40 to 70 percent of patients remaining drug-free, you can move forward with hope as you begin the treatment plan of your choice.

Hyrum Taffer

Hyrum Taffer

Hyrum is an experienced researcher, counselor. He hopes his experiences will help others find their way to recovery.
Hyrum Taffer

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3 Comments

  1. John says:

    Great Article. I work in the rehabilitation field and find that long term programs have a higher success rate.

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