Drug Addiction Treatment Methods

Where drug addiction treatment is concerned, the treatment method adopted for each individual will need to take several things into account.  These include: the drug(s) currently or recently being consumed, the history of the addiction(s), any co-existing mental or physical illnesses, previous treatments for drug addiction or related conditions and their effect.  The treatment method selected will take into consideration what accumulated research indicates about treatment effectiveness in relation to the patient’s profile. 

The model or method of addiction treatment selected will also depend on a comprehensive assessment evaluating the patient’s assets and deficits in terms of the personal and social resources they bring to the process of recovery.  Lastly but critically, it must also take into account what the patient aims to achieve, to what treatment method they are drawn and what makes most sense to them.

Two different approaches  – the same goal

The main two addiction treatment methods currently favoured fall broadly under the headings of abstinence-based recovery and medically managed (or medication-assisted) recovery; hitherto referred to as harm reduction. The former begins with the earliest possible, complete but safe withdrawal from drugs of addiction.  The latter concentrates on steadily reducing the harm being suffered by using medication to regulate the addicted state and to stabilise the patient’s health more generally. Division has arisen between these two approaches which is unhelpful to the patients they have in common.  In truth, some people may need to begin abstinent recovery in order to build themselves a new life, while others may need to start building themselves a new life before they can develop a sustainable long-term recovery. One addiction treatment method does not have to conflict with the other.

Informed consent

Patients will also need to give informed consent to whatever drug addiction treatment methods are proposed for them. This means ensuring that the patient has a thorough understanding of the benefits and risks as far as they are known of the treatment options available. It may prove important to repeat and expand on the information provided as patients in the very earliest stages of treatment are generally anxious, often finding it difficult to retain information, especially if they are undergoing withdrawal.

Immediate priorities – preserve life and stabilise health

All drug addiction treatment methods will take into account the fact that addiction is a life-threatening condition. For this reason, whatever the patient’s ultimate goal, immediate steps will need to be taken to reduce the risk of death, especially if the patient arrives for treatment in an intoxicated state. Their physical and mental state must be stabilised before they can begin to engage fully with psychotherapeutic and various other forms of psycho-social support.  This may require medication as well as food supplements since many patients admitted for addiction treatment will be in a depleted state. On the whole it is best to opt for an integrated model where medical management and psychological therapies work effectively together in complementary fashion.

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