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Drug Abuse Treatment

Drug abuse treatment should be catered to the individual.

Addiciton to prescription medication can be a serious problem. [© Shutterstock, 2010]
© Shutterstock, 2010
Addiciton to prescription medication can be a serious problem.

Drug Abuse Treatment

Drug abuse treatment is intended to help addicts control and end drug use, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Treatment can occur in a variety of different settings and forums and can last for varying periods of time.

NIDA believes that drug abuse is a disease affecting both the mind and behavior, and those biological and environmental factors contribute to its progression. Having a drug addiction often requires long-term treatment combined with continuing care in order to ensure abstinence. Treatment may also vary based on the type of drug use.

Types of Drug Abuse Treatment

Unfortunately, there is no one universal type of drug abuse treatment that is an absolute cure for everyone. Finding effective treatment settings, interventions and the best ways to meet individual needs are important in determining success.

Reports from NIDA reveal that there are several considerations to keep in mind regarding effective drug abuse treatment:

  • Treatment needs to be readily available, immediate and accessible
  • Treatment has to address multiple needs -- medical, psychological, social, vocational and legal -- not only the drug abuse
  • It is critical that individuals remain in treatment for an appropriate period of time -- one-time or short-term treatment is not typically enough


Counseling (individual or group), behavioral therapies, medical treatment and peer support groups are the most common types of drug abuse treatment. Another type is risk-reduction counseling, which focuses on assessing patients for HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B and C, tuberculoses and other infectious diseases. Peer support groups like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are often helpful. They offer a number of services -- resources, literature and reports -- as well as opportunities for group participation.

Individuals may require a combination of treatment options. Specific needs may vary from one person to another depending on race, gender and culture, as well as other contributing factors including abuse history and depression. Like other chronic conditions, an addiction to drugs can be managed with the appropriate drug abuse treatment. Relapses should be expected; treatment should not be discontinued just because of a relapse.

While undergoing treatment, individuals progress at different rates, but a minimum 90-day treatment is suggested. Ongoing intervention and mentoring on a long-term basis is generally required.

Physical and Mental Aspects of Treatment

Drug abuse treatment can impact many areas of life including family, home-life and career and community involvement. The appropriate treatment can help those in recovery maintain healthy, productive lifestyles. NIDA suggests that medical detoxification may be necessary for those who demonstrate physical symptoms of withdrawal. For some drug users, this is the first step in the process of obtaining long-term care.

Often, those who have a problem with drug abuse or addiction also suffer from other mental illnesses. A professional can determine if there are any other existing conditions or problems by performing a thorough evaluation.

Research indicates that voluntary participation is not necessary for drug abuse treatment to be effective. However, drug use should be monitored continually throughout the treatment. Treatment should also be assessed regularly to guarantee that individuals are receiving the maximum benefits.

Completing drug abuse treatment demonstrates personal benefits in a number of ways in addition to ending the drug abuse itself. Undergoing behavioral therapy will often teach those in treatment how to communicate better and how to cultivate relationships.

Where to Go for Help

Local doctors offices, medical directories and telephone books can help individuals find helpful treatment centers and resources. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is one resource that provides individuals with information on how to locate a treatment center. Its website contains a searchable directory of drug and alcohol treatment center facilities and also includes more than 11,000 addiction treatment programs, including residential treatment centers, outpatient treatment programs and hospital inpatient programs for drug addiction and alcoholism.

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America is a nonprofit organization that unites parents, scientists and other medical experts to help families raise drug-free children and teens. The Partnership is focused on educational programs that help to prevent drug use in children by equipping parents with the necessary tools and resources.

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