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A Guide to Substance Abuse Treatment Programs

substance abuse treatment information

A substance use disorder (SUD) is a complex illness that affects a person’s mind, body, and behaviors – Informally, it is known as a drug addiction. When a person abuses addictive substances for a period of time, their brain and body become reliant on the substances to function. This is due to physical changes that happen in the brain’s chemical structure. It begins demanding the drug. It drives compulsive, uncontrollable cravings. The addiction takes over. And, as a result, it often requires professional and specialized treatment to overcome. 

While addiction is a debilitating and devasting disease, it is treatable. Substance abuse treatment programs are carefully designed to help individuals get healthy mentally and physically, and work to reverse the disruptive effects that the drugs have caused. The goal of substance abuse treatment is to help individuals:

  • Stop using drugs and alcohol
  • Maintain a healthy, drug-free life
  • Be productive – at work, school, and in life generally

Of course, for those struggling with addiction, the thought of going to treatment can be overwhelming. Recovery is a long-term journey, and deep-seated substance use disorders often require a period of time in treatment or a rehab setting. Whether you are facing a drug use disorder, or have a loved one struggling with substance abuse, you may have many questions about what treatment programs entail. For this reason, we’ve answered common questions about substance abuse treatment programs below. 

Can Substance Use Disorders Really Be Treated?

Yes. Substance use disorders, as noted above, are complex disorders of the brain. While treatment and recovery is entirely possible, it is not always simple. Because drugs change the way a person’s brain works (quite literally), it takes time and repeated, ongoing care to heal. This is why it is important to find a treatment program that is dedicated to helping you recover and break out of the addiction cycle. 

A substance use treatment program is not simply designed to help you get sober – it is designed to help you stay sober and develop the skills needed to live a healthy, drug-free, and productive life. The skills and tactics learned in an addiction treatment program are vital to a long-lasting recovery.

What are the Treatments for Substance Use Disorders?

Substance abuse treatment programs may enact several different modalities to help clients overcome addiction. The treatment methods chosen are completely individualized, depending on a person’s unique needs, circumstances, and substance(s) of choice. Evidence-based treatment methods that have been found to successfully treat substance addiction include:

  • Behavioral counseling (such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)
  • Medication-assisted treatment, particularly to help with withdrawal symptoms
  • Evaluation and treatment of co-occurring mental health disorders, like depression or anxiety
  • Relapse prevention therapies

Substance addiction treatment may include any of the above, or a combination of modalities in order to effectively treat the disorder(s).

What are the Different Models of Treatment Programs?

Substance abuse treatment programs can occur in a variety of settings. They may also take on different forms, structures, and schedules, and last for different lengths of time. The type of program that is right for you or your loved one will largely depend on individual needs. Therefore, it is important to consult with a clinician or treatment professional about your situation and options. Common types of treatment program models include:

  • Inpatient drug treatment, in which clients live at or nearby the treatment facility
  • Outpatient treatment, in which clients can come-and-go to therapy and meetings
  • Long-term treatment, which typically involves planned lengths of stay of about 6-12 months
  • Short-term treatment, typically around 90 days in treatment
  • Individualized drug counseling, in which a client receives regular therapy, sometimes outside of a traditional rehab setting
  • Group counseling and meetings, which help connect individuals in recovery

You can learn more about the various types of substance abuse treatment programs here.

It is important to underline that, because substance use disorders are complex and chronic, they do require longer-term and repeated care. Therefore, one-time or short-term bouts of treatment are not recommended for those struggling. Treatment should involve multiple interventions, regular monitoring, and longer-term commitments. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recommends at least 90 days of consistent treatment, though longer programs tend to result in better patient outcomes. This leads us to our next question.

How Long is a Substance Abuse Treatment Program?

The recommended timeline for substance abuse treatment is at least 90 days. However, longer-term treatment is advised for those with more severe substance use disorders or co-occurring mental heath issues. This is due to the more complex changes that have occurred in the brain.

Of course, anyone can benefit from long-term drug treatment. According to the NIDA, “Good outcomes are contingent on adequate treatment length… Generally, for residential or outpatient treatment, participation for less than 90 days is of limited effectiveness, and treatment lasting significantly longer is recommended for maintaining positive outcomes.” At Turnbridge, we found that clients achieve the best recovery outcomes with at least 270 days in treatment.

What Makes Substance Use Treatment Effective?

Substance abuse treatment is not one-size-fits-all, and must be tailored to each person in order to be effective. This is one of the key principles of the NIDA’s Principles of Effective Treatment, that treatment services are individualized based on a client’s current circumstances and challenges. With this in mind, however, there are key aspects that make a substance abuse treatment program effective. These include:

  • The use of evidence-based treatments and therapies
  • Treatment is readily available and accessible for clients in need
  • Any co-occurring mental health disorders are also addressed in treatment
  • Continuous monitoring and management of substance use
  • Program length meets the recommended standards for substance use disorders
  • Medications, counseling, and other therapies are integrated for the best possible outcomes

Do I Really Need Treatment?

When facing a problem with drug or alcohol use, many people will wonder if it’s “significant enough” to require professional treatment. Many assume that they need to hit their rock bottom in order to seek out help. The truth is, it’s never too early to enroll in an addiction treatment or rehab program. 

There are many reasons that can lead a person into treatment. Common signs it’s time include:

  • Drinking and drug use is a compulsion, not a choice
  • You’re experiencing mental health issues, such as anxiety, paranoia, and depression
  • Your relationships are not healthy, or you’re withdrawing from loved ones
  • You are in trouble financially, legally, or even socially due to substance use
  • Drugs and alcohol have consumed your life
  • You are showing physical signs of addiction
  • You have a dependence, or built a tolerance, to your drug of choice
  • You are experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you are not using
  • You spend much of your time seeking, using, or recovering from substance use

Where Can I Find More Information?

Although it is a hard step to take, seeking out a drug treatment program can be life-saving. If you are interested in learning more about professional treatment programs, or you have more questions, you can always reach out to Turnbridge for guidance.Turnbridge is a recognized treatment center for those struggling with substance use and mental health disorders. We offer an array of individualized, evidence-based treatment programs to meet the needs of every young man, woman, and teenager that walks through our doors. To learn more, call 877-581-1793. You may also explore our programs online.