Phases of Susbtance Abuse Treatment

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Substance abuse treatment is as complex a process as substance abuse itself. There are a variety of treatment methods and elements that can be used, but individualized treatment, timed appropriately is essential in providing effective treatment.

Detoxification and Stabilization Phase

The detoxification and stabilization phase is the first step of recovery and substance abuse treatment. This is the phase where the the substance is cleared from the body. You may have heard of withdrawal, this is the body’s reaction to the lack of alcohol or drugs in the body. Onset of withdrawal symptoms from most drugs is generally 8-12 hours following the last dose of the substance, so it is important to seek treatment immediately if you stop using the substance. Medical detoxification may include medication and therapy. The ultimate goal is patient abstinence with as little physical and emotional discomfort as possible. Medical detoxification on its own is unlikely to serve as an effective long-term substance abuse treatment. It should be viewed as preparation for the continued treatment. Medical detoxification can be an intense process and generally lasts a few days or a week, depending on the individual and the severity of his or her substance abuse.

Rehabilitation and Relapse Prevention Phase

The second stage of substance abuse treatment focuses on providing long-term recovery assistance. Treatment methods may include medication, cognitive behavioral therapy and individual counseling. The rehabilitation phase may last for weeks, months or even years depending on the individual.  Once an individual is out of the safety of a rehab facility, the individual is in relapse prevention. Substance abuse treatment is not a one time program, it requires a long-term commitment and lifelong relapse prevention planning.


Effective Components of Rehabilitation and Relapse Prevention

There are several patient related and treatment related factors that combine to make effective substance abuse treatment.

Patient-Related Factors:

Severity of substance abuse: Studies have shown that the length of time and substance abuse patterns are reliable indicators of treatment retention and relapse rates.

Mental Health Issues: Substance abuse disorders often co-occur with mental health issues. If these issues are not also adequately addressed the patient is less likely to achieve long-term recovery.

Internal Motivation: Substance abuse treatment is more likely to be effective if the patient is motivated and ready to begin treatment.

Social Support: The individual in treatment will need relationships readily available that support his or her abstinence.

Treatment-Related Factors:

Setting of Treatment: Studies have shown a significantly higher completion rate of 89% for inpatient treatment compared with 54% for outpatient day treatment.

Medications: This is the use of medication to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and control future cravings for the illicit substance. The medicinal therapy varies with the particular substance of abuse.

Counseling: Access to regular substance abuse treatment counseling is an essential component to an individual sustaining abstinence. The type of counseling varies from individual cognitive behavioral therapy to group support therapies. Substance abuse treatment professionals are in the best position to decide which type of counseling is appropriate for each individual.

Substance abuse treatment can be effective in helping people overcome addiction and drug abuse problems. There are many different types of treatment options available, however substance abuse treatment is most effective if individual is willing and ready to go into rehab.