Getting Help for Drug Misuse: Treatment Options

While the term drug abuse is still commonly used in a number of contexts to imply both the misuse of and addiction to substances that have psychoactive properties, it is no longer used in the formal diagnostic terminology of clinicians in the United States. The current term used to designate the presence of substance abuse or addiction is substance use disorder.1

This clinical term describes both drug/substance misuse and formal addictive behaviors. Because individuals with addictions will almost always display elements of substance misuse, this term is thought to more adequately describe the individual problem compared to older terms like substance abuse, addiction, substance dependence, and so forth.

Here we’ll cover how substance use disorders are identified and ways to get help with effective addiction treatment.

How Does Addiction Start?

This is a very difficult question to adequately address, as there is no one particular pathway to developing a substance use disorder.

In some cases, individuals develop a substance use disorder at a relatively young age; in other cases, individuals may develop the issue later on in adulthood. Typically, many people start using certain drugs, such as tobacco or alcohol, at some point in their adolescence.

There are a number of identified risk factors that are associated with a greater probability for the development of a substance use disorder.2 However, risk factors are not the direct causes leading to the development of a substance use disorder. Instead, these factors indicate behaviors or situations that increase the risk that a person will develop a substance use disorder.

Signs of a Substance Use Disorder: How to Recognize Addiction

Even though there is quite a bit of variability in the behaviors that individuals with substance use disorders display, there are some general signs and symptoms that may indicate that someone has such a disorder.

A person does not have to exhibit all of these signs; in fact, someone who exhibits three or four of these together may be displaying symptoms of a substance use disorder. However, substance use disorders can only be formally diagnosed by professionally trained and licensed mental health professionals.

The information that follows is designed to be used in an educational format. Anyone suspecting a substance use disorder should seek out a consultation with a licensed mental health professional who is trained and qualified in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of these disorders.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, the formal symptoms of a substance use disorder include:3

  • The person begins taking the substance in larger amounts than intended or over a longer time period than originally intended.
  • The person begins to spend a great deal of time trying to obtain the drug of choice, using it, or recovering from its use.
  • The person engages in a number of unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control drug use.
  • The person has cravings to use the drug of choice.
  • The person’s drug use leads to recurrent interpersonal or social problems.
  • The person begins to fail to meet required obligations at school, at work, within the family, and with friends as a result of the drug use.
  • The person begins to use drugs in instances where it is physically dangerous to do so, such as at work or prior to driving.
  • The person continues to use drugs despite knowing that the drug use is causing problems.
  • The person displays signs of physical dependence, such as tolerance and/or withdrawal symptoms when going without the drug.

What to Do if You’re Addicted to Drugs or Alcohol

If you are struggling with a substance use disorder, there are actions you can take to get help. Substance use disorder is a chronic disease that is treatable.4 Some steps you can take include:

  • Making an appointment with your physician or mental health professional.
  • Reaching out to an organization such as Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) that can guide you to helpful resources and support communities.
  • Attending 12-Step meetings at a local chapter of AA or NA.
  • Finding an addiction treatment center.

Finding a Rehab Center: What to Look for in an Addiction Treatment Center

It is extremely important to choose the treatment program that’s best for each individual. While there may be overall treatment protocols to follow, the specific plan should involve a tailored approach. There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for those affected by a substance use disorder.5

Appropriate treatment for a substance use disorder consists of a program that:

  • Delivers empirically validated treatment protocols (treatment approaches that have been supported in research literature).
  • Offers a variety of treatment services to address the whole individual.
  • Utilizes licensed mental health professionals who have specific training in treating substance use disorders.

The best approach to treating a substance use disorder is an approach that can address the issue from a number of different angles and offer various related interventions to assist the individual in recovery.

Things to Consider When Choosing Your Rehab

There are multiple factors to consider when choosing the right rehab for you. Some important aspects include the following:

  • Are evidence-based therapies employed?
  • Does the facility hold accreditations from organizations such as The Joint Commission and the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF)?
  • What levels of care are offered?
  • Are specialty programs available that specifically meet your needs?
  • How far away is the treatment facility from your home?
  • What amenities does the rehab offer?

Addiction Treatment Options

There are number of different treatment options that a comprehensive treatment program should offer. Types of addiction treatment options may include the following:

  • Medical detox: Individuals who have developed a physical dependence on a drug as a result of a substance use disorder may benefit from a physician-supervised medical detox program. This type of program allows the individual to experience the minimum level of discomfort possible during the withdrawal process.
  • Residential or inpatient treatment: 24-hour care is provided and patients attend structured treatment programming every day of the week.
  • Outpatient treatment: Patients continue to reside at home while they attend treatment sessions during the day at a rehab facility. Depending on individual needs, a partial hospitalization program (PHP) or intensive outpatient program (IOP) may be chosen.
  • Individual therapy, group therapy, or a combination of both: Patients may participate in individual therapy where they are treated on a one-on-one basis with a professional therapist or group therapy where they are treated in a group of their peers by one or more therapists.
  • Medically assisted treatment programs: Some individuals in recovery, even individuals who do not need to go through medical detox, need the assistance of a psychiatrist or addiction medicine physician during recovery. These mental health professionals can provide support and medical treatment for psychological issues, physical issues, and other complicating factors that require medical treatment.
  • Family therapy: In a number of cases, certain family dynamics can contribute or interact with the individual’s substance use disorder. These issues can be addressed in a special form of group therapy known as family therapy. Family therapy has been empirically demonstrated to assist in the treatment of substance use disorders in adults and adolescents.
  • Social support groups: A number of different types of social support groups are available that can be useful for individuals in recovery. Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and other variations are popular. These 12-Step groups have a long history of providing support and structure for individuals with substance use disorders.
  • Various interventions and complementary therapies: These might be utilized based on the specific needs of the client. Examples include vocational rehab, physical or occupational therapy, academic tutoring services, job placement services, and so forth. In addition, people in recovery may benefit from yoga, meditation, art therapy, music therapy, fitness regimes, or a bevy of other options.
  • Long-term aftercare: Since addiction is a chronic disorder, there is no cure; it’s a condition that must be managed on a long-term basis. Aftercare keeps individuals engaged and focused on recovery once the early stages of treatment are complete, and it comes in many forms.

Treatment Medications

There are several FDA-approved addiction treatment medications.5 Depending on each person’s individual needs, certain medications may be prescribed in combination with behavioral therapy to effectively treat substance use disorder.

Medications approved for the treatment of alcohol use disorder include:5

  • Acamprosate: Reduces long-lasting withdrawal symptoms, which may include anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, and feelings of unhappiness or feeling unwell.
  • Disulfiram: Deters drinking by interfering with how the body breaks down alcohol. Undesirable reactions occur if a person drinks alcohol, such as nausea, facial flushing, and irregular heartbeat.
  • Naltrexone: Prevents a person from experiencing alcohol cravings and the rewarding effects of drinking by blocking opioid receptors.

Medications for the treatment of opioid use disorder include the following:5

  • Buprenorphine: Relieves cravings and suppresses withdrawal symptoms.
  • Methadone: Suppresses withdrawal symptoms and relieves opioid cravings.
  • Naltrexone: Works at the opioid receptor sites in the brain to block the effects of opioids.

How Can I Pay for Rehab?

There are several ways to pay for addiction rehab. Many people use their health insurance coverage for rehab. Recovery First is in-network with many major health insurance providers. You can quickly check your insurance coverage by completing our confidential .

For those without insurance or whose insurance does not cover all costs, our drug rehab near Miami offers other ways to pay for rehab, including financing. Admissions navigators are available 24/7 to answer your rehab admissions questions and help you find flexible payment solutions that allow you to get the treatment you deserve. Call today to start your recovery journey.

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