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Treatment for Addiction

Addiction treatment exists to help individuals addicted to mood altering chemicals and/or experiences stop compulsive behaviors, drug seeking and substance abuse. It can take place in many different settings, using many different methodologies and approaches, for varying lengths of time and with varying intensity. Because addiction is typically a chronic and progressive disorder characterized by powerlessness, unmanageability and relapse, a single treatment episode is often not sufficient to completely arrest the progression of the disease. For many addicts, treatment is a long-term or even life-long process that involves multiple treatment interventions and consistent monitoring and support.

"You live like this, sheltered, in a delicate world, and you believe you are living. Then you read a book (Lady Chatterley, for instance), or you take a trip, or you talk with Richard, and you discover that you are not living, that you are hibernating. The symptoms of hibernating are easily detectable: first, restlessness. The second symptom (when hibernating becomes dangerous and might degenerate into death): absence of pleasure. That is all. It appears like an innocuous illness. Monotony, boredom, death. Millions live like this (or die like this) without knowing it. They work in offices. They drive a car. They picnic with their families. They raise children. And then some shock treatment takes place, a person, a book, a song, and it awakens them and saves them from death." - Anais Nin, 1903-1977

Treatment programs exist to treat addiction to any and all mood altering experiences and behavioral health conditions. Addiction treatment is not limited to the treatment of drugs and alcohol... There are both inpatient and outpatient treatment centers that treat:

  • drug addiction
  • alcoholism
  • sex addiction
  • gambling addiction
  • internet addiction
  • food addiction
  • eating disorders
  • dual diagnosis
  • mental health disorders

The most appropriate treatment for an individual usually depends on a number of factors. A treatment center that may work for one person will not necessarily work for another. A  treatment program needs to be matched to the individual's behavior and specific needs. This is critical to his or her success in re-entering society as a normal, functioning person. In order to be effective, treatment programs should address the individual's multiple needs, not just his or her drug use or compulsive behaviors. Our database of treatment centers contains thousands of addiction treatment centers that do just that.

Patients in addiction treatment centers may require a combination of treatments and services in order to be successful. Besides one-on-one therapy and counseling, he or she may need medication, family therapy or social and legal services. When addiction is coupled with mental health disorders, addicts require dual diagnosis treatment. Dual diagnosis treatment is available in a wide range of treatment programs and focuses on co-occurring drug addiction and mental health issues, and the role they play in an individual’s addiction. An individual's drug treatment program and treatment services received shoulder be continually assessed and modified to meet his or her needs, and change accordingly with the individual as he or she moves forward in the treatment program.

Depending on the drugs abused and severity of the addiction, different treatment methods are used. Different types of treatment programs include Narcot Agonist Maintenance Treatment, Narcotic Antagonist Treatment, Outpatient Drug-Free Treatment, Long-Term Residential Treatment, Short-Term Residential Programs, Medical Detoxification, and others. Different drug rehabilitation centers offer different combinations of these treatment programs. Let's look at the these programs and how drug addiction treatment is approached in each.

  • Medical Detoxification - This process treats a patient by systematically withdrawing him or her from the drug they have an addiction to. Medications are used, as in detoxification from opiates and other addicting substances such as alcohol and benzodiazepines. This type of treatment is not designed to address the issues of social, psychological and behavioral problems inherrent to addiction. It is most useful when incorporated with formal addiction assessment and subsequent drug addiction treatment.
  • Outpatient Drug-Free Treatment Program - This type of treatment is usually less costly than others. It may include drug education and admonition, intensive day treatment and group counseling. Some of these programs are also designed to treat an individual's medical or mental health problems in addition to their addiction.
  • Short-Term Residential Treatment Program - Providing intensive but brief treatment, these programs are often based on a modified 12-step approach.
  • Long-Term Residential Treatment Program - This type of treatment provides 24 hours of care a day, in a non-hospital setting generally. These require lengthy stays of 6-12 months. These focus on the re socialization of the addict. Treatment is highly structured and at times confrontational.
  • Partial Hospitalization (Day Treatment) Program - This treatment is similar to short-term residential treatment, but patients do not live at the treatment center. This treatment program includes counseling, medical care, group and individual therapy sessions. Patients are often taken to the hospital setting several times a week for their counseling and therapy sessions during the days and return to a group home in the evening.
  • Narcotic Agonist Maintenance Treatment Program - This treatment is generally used for opiate addicts and is often conducted in an outpatient setting. These are usually referred to as Methadone treatment programs. This treatment works by using a long-acting synthetic opiate medication, usually methadone or LAAM, and buprenorphine (Subutex, Suboxone). It is given orally for a period of time to prevent opiate withdrawal and decrease the person's craving for opiates.
  • Narcotic Antagonist Treatment Program - Using Nature for opiate addicts, this treatment is usually in an outpatient setting after medical detoxification in a residential setting. It is a long-acting synthetic opiate antagonist taken orally daily or up to three times a week for a period of time. The theory is that over time it will gradually break the opiate addiction.

Sex Addiction Treatment

Along with drug and alcoholism treatment, many treatment programs are equipped to address other addictions and disorders such as sex addiction. Sex addiction is a very dangerous compulsive disease that puts addicts at an increased risk for personal health problems as well as complications in the family circuit. The good news is that sex addiction can be treated. Unlike drug and alcohol addiction, there is no chemical or toxin to be removed from the physical body in the beginning sages of sex addiction treatment. This is purely a behavioral and mental health issue that most treatment centers are equipped to treat with many of the same treatment techniques employed in dual diagnosis treatment programs. For sex addicts in treatment, the treatment program will not only address the issues of sexual compulsion, but also the underlying, co-occurring mental health issues which commonly lead to the sex addiction in the first place. By undergoing this kind of dual diagnosis treatment, the probability for success in treatment is increased greatly. Not only is the surface issue being treated, but the underlying issues as well. This helps to treat the issues that trigger the compulsive sexual behavior, thus giving the addict a huge advantage in abstaining from the destructive behaviors in the future, after completing treatment. Many drug addiction and alcoholism treatment centers also treat sex addiction and there are several treatment centers dedicated entirely to the treatment of sex addiction. It is not necessarily always a guarantee of success for sex addiction to be treated in sex addiction treatment programs. It is always best to find the right treatment program for the individual, and for some sex addicts that treatment may not be available in programs which focus entirely on sex addiction.

Gambling Addiction Treatment

As with any other addiction, gambling addiction is a disease and it can be treated with an appropriate and quality addiction treatment program.  Similar to sex addiction, gambling addiction alone does not include the removal of any chemicals or toxins from the body.  However, many times gambling addiction is coupled with substance abuse problems, so often gambling addicts need to seek treatment for both their compulsive gambling addiction as well as their drug or alcohol addiction.  Most treatment centers have programs equipped to treat all of these issues.  Again, there are many treatment programs dedicated specifically to gambling addictions, but it takes extensive research into several treatment centers to determine if that is the best path to recovery for each individual addict.  Whether the treatment program is geared towards gambling addictions or all addictions, all treatment programs have one goal – to teach the addict new behaviors and patterns so they will have the necessary tools to abstain from the destructive compulsive behaviors that made their lives unmanageable.

Eating Disorders Treatment

Unlike most other addictions, eating disorders are entirely about mental health disorders and psychological issues relating to self image and self- esteem.  In most eating disorder cases, the sufferer has overwhelming feelings of not being good enough or not worthy of things producing feelings of pleasure, like food.  There are several kinds of eating disorders known to the medical community.  Anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, overeating, and compulsive eating are all very serious eating disorders plaguing millions of people worldwide.  Both men and women suffer from this disease, and because it is not an addiction, rather the result of self esteem issues, usually having to do with childhood abuse of some kind, the treatment for eating disorders tends to be more specified than treatment for drug, alcohol, sex, and gambling addiction.  For the effective treatment of eating disorders, it may be necessary to locate treatment programs that focus specifically on eating disorders, as these treatment programs are geared toward self esteem building exercises and important tools to teach sufferers healthy ways to control deal with their emotions, instead of hiding from them and trying to control their environments with food, or lack of it.  Effective treatment for eating disorders helps millions of men and women worldwide overcome this devastating disease and any treatment program, no matter what the condition of the sufferer, needs the complete determination of the patient for recovery to make the treatment program work.

There are a wide variety of diseases classified as addictions and eating disorders.  Just as wide are the variety of treatment centers and treatment programs with varying methodologies and philosophies.  Besides the numerous types of treatment, from inpatient residential to long-term treatment, different treatment centers employ a variety of philosophies.  Common is the traditional philosophy of the 12-step program, still utilized by many treatment centers world wide.  Nowadays, with the number of addicts growing and their individual needs varying, many niche treatment philosophies have been adopted, such as holistic, acupuncture, sauna treatment, religious based treatment, alternative lifestyles treatment, and meditative, yoga treatment.  Depending on the needs and lifestyle preference of the individual in need of treatment, there is a treatment center somewhere that can accommodate those needs.  For this reason, we cannot stress the importance of doing the necessary footwork to determine the appropriate treatment program.  We are here to facilitate that research and will do all we can to help you find the right quality treatment program for yourself or a loved one.  For more information on addiction and addiction treatment centers, please explore the rest of our links and feel free to email us or fill out our free and confidential assessment form if you have questions about a loved one or your own addictions, or call us.  We are here to help.

Drug Addiction Treatment Methods

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Features White House Drug Policy initiatives, programs, and resources. Find the Drug Czar's speeches, testimony and press releases. Outlines National Drug Control Strategy goals and objectives.

* Addiction is a disease and should be characterized as such whether or not it is alcoholism, the broad spectrum of chemical dependency, or sex addiction, and should not be construed as an addict's lack of will power, personal strength, inability to make informed decisions, or personal fault of character. Genuine will power to overcome an addiction by addicts is manifested in their daily (minute by minute) struggle - battle - to overcome their addiction and recover to lead satisfying and productive lives.  In general, residential, inpatient, rehab addiction treatment success is enhanced when the addicted individual stays in treatment more than 30 days and (s)he is farther away from the home environment, peer group, connections (for example, out-of-state) and, especially, the quality and type(s) of care received. For more information: Addiction and Genetics; Addiction Intervention and Interventionists; Club Drugs; and Dual Diagnosis.


  • Levels of Care
    Addiction treatment is a complex process, and is available in a variety of settings with varying levels of intensity.  Often addiction treatment will begin with detox or detoxification (physical  removal of the drug or alcohol from the addict's  body).  After detox, the more in depth treatment usually begins with a mixure of counseling, meetings and rehabilitative structure consitent with the methodology of each addiction treatment center, whether it is holistic, christian based, alternative, 12-step or anything else.  Because addiction is so  complex, it effects not only the addict, but also the familiy of the addict, as well as those close to the addict.  In doing so, addiction becomes a family disease as opposed to an individual disease and most addiction treatment organizations incorporate family resources and counseling in their treatment program.  Not only is the family involved  in the recovery process, but sober living is typically offered once treatment is completed,  All of these elements make the path to recovery from addiction a complex, but resourceful and helpful one as well.
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    Addiction is a debilitating disease which carries a huge social cost destroying lives, families, and entire communities. It is a social and socioeconomic problem, but first and foremost, it is a human problem - a disease like any other - chronic, progressive, and ultimately fatal, that must be treated on an individual level. It is our sincere hope that the information contained in the following articles can help educate the public, families, and addicts and alcoholics themselves about the methods and services available for treatment of addiction.

  • Alcohol Rehab and Alcoholism Treatment

    Alcoholism has been described as one of the most dangerous and deadly addictions known to modern society.  Alcohol, unlike illicit drugs, is generally socially acceptable and widely available, allowing the progression of the disease to take place inconspicuously. Alcoholism can cause severe physical and psychological damage, and detoxification from alcohol is an uncomfortable and often dangerous process.

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