CleanSlate Blog

Choosing the Best Treatment Path for Your Addiction

by Nasser Hajaig, M.D. | Oct 10, 2018

AdobeStock_202876359You’ve decided to seek treatment for your substance use disorder. Or you want to help someone you care about start treatment for their addiction. Congratulations on initiating the first step towards recovery.

Now the question is: what kind of treatment should you pursue?

The first thing to understand is that each person's journey to recovery will look a little different based upon his or her unique circumstances and needs. Drug and alcohol addictions are chronic diseases, meaning that they can be managed - like diabetes - but not cured.

However, these addictions can be treated, with the goal of stopping use, preventing relapse, and regaining control of one’s life. Knowledge is power, so understanding all of the available treatment options can help you find the best fit and maximize your chances of success.

Different treatment options

There are many treatment approaches to consider for opioid use disorder (OUD) and alcohol use disorder (AUD), including:

  1. Individual and group counseling

  2. Inpatient and residential treatment

  3. Intensive outpatient treatment

  4. Partial hospital programs

  5. Case or care management

  6. Medication

  7. Recovery support services

  8. 12-Step fellowship

  9. Peer supports

All of these forms of treatment offer tremendous benefits. CleanSlate collaborates with community partners across all of these different areas to provide a continuum of care for our patients being treated with medication. We have seen many patients thrive with the added support of these types of services and communities. Some of these forms of treatment are vital for the recovery of certain patients; for other patients, many of these services are unnecessary.

Collectively, every treatment path can create a network of support, but not all treatment approaches are equally effective on their own. Many of these forms of treatment should be considered complementary forms of support, not sole pathways to recovery.

Essential qualities of any treatment program

Again, the ideal path of treatment will vary from individual to individual. That said, experts have developed best practices around the most successful approach to treatment, based upon decades of research. The National Institute on Drug Abuse, which is part of the federal National Institutes of Health (NIH), states that successful treatment should include detoxification, behavioral counseling, medication (for opioid, tobacco, or alcohol addiction), evaluation and treatment for co-occurring mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, and long-term follow-up to prevent relapse.  

The NIH recommends that any effective treatment program recognize certain principles, including the following:

  • Addiction is a complex but treatable disease that affects brain function and behavior.

  • No single treatment is right for everyone.

  • People need to have quick access to treatment.

  • Effective treatment addresses all of the patient’s needs, not just his or her drug use.

  • Staying in treatment long enough is critical.

  • Counseling and other behavioral therapies are the most commonly used forms of treatment.

  • Medications are often an important part of treatment, especially when combined with behavioral therapies.

  • Treatment plans must be reviewed often and modified to fit the patient’s changing needs.

  • Treatment should address other possible mental disorders.

  • Drug use during treatment must be monitored continuously.

  • Treatment programs should test patients for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases, as well as teach them about steps they can take to reduce their risk of these illnesses.

Importance of including medication as treatment for opioid addiction

Medication-assisted treatment is the use of medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a “whole-patient” approach to the treatment of substance use disorders. Addiction medications, such as buprenorphine (Suboxone), methadone, and naltrexone (Vivitrol) manage withdrawal symptoms and prevent relapse. Medications can quickly help patients regain mental clarity and restore the capability they need to rebuild their lives. These medications have been increasingly recognized as a critical component of recovery for OUD and also extremely helpful in treating AUD, although the use of medication to treat alcoholism is less widely publicized. 

Click here to read our blog: "Why Aren't We Talking About One of the Most  Effective Treatments for Alcoholism?"

MAT has become the gold standard of care for opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment, recommended by the American Society for Addiction Medicine, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and many other top health organizations. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has recommended that all patients with OUD should be given access to addiction medications. SAMHSA is clear on this point: “It is not sound medical practice to deny people with OUD access to FDA-approved medications for their illness.”

The myths about MAT

Medication for opioid addiction has been in place for more than 50 years, and we have seen that the longer people stay in MAT, the more successful their recovery. But old myths and biases persist. Here is how the National Council for Behavioral Health counters these myths:

Myth v Fact MAT Infographic-2

Taking the first step

MAT can be the sole avenue of recovery for many patients or complement other forms of treatment. But MAT should be at least one component of treatment, because the absence of medication for addiction can be deadly. When people go through detoxification, their tolerance levels are greatly reduced and they’re at high risk of overdosing if they relapse. Detoxification alone is not a form of treatment and should only be seen as a bridge to ongoing medication management.

If you are seeking addiction treatment for yourself or someone you care about, CleanSlate’s care coordinators will help you evaluate any necessary treatment supports to consider in addition to medication-assisted treatment. Find the center nearest you at www.cleanslatecenters.com and call us or walk in today.


 

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Also read:

Recognizing The Signs Of Opioid And Alcohol Addictions

5 Steps To Take When Someone You Know Suffers From Addiction

Can I Afford Addiction Treatment?

Picture of Nasser Hajaig, M.D.

Nasser Hajaig, M.D.

Nasser Hajaig, M.D. is the Western Division Medical Director for CleanSlate, a leading national medical group that provides office-based outpatient medication treatment for the chronic disease of addiction, primarily alcohol and opioid use disorders.

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If you or someone you know suffers from the disease of addiction, please call 833-505-HOPE to speak with a professional.

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