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Substance Abuse and Addiction - Treatment Overview

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Do you need detox?

Your doctor may decide you need detoxification, or detox, before you start treatment. You need detox when you are physically addicted to alcohol. This means that when you stop drinking, you have physical withdrawal symptoms, such as feeling sick to your stomach or intense anxiety.

Detox helps get you ready for treatment. It doesn't help you with the mental, social, and behavior changes you have to make to get and stay sober.

Whether you need detox and whether you can go through it at home or need to go to a clinic or other facility depends on how severe your withdrawal symptoms are. Most people don't need to stay at a clinic but do need to check in with a doctor or other health professional. Whether you need to spend time in a clinic (called inpatient care) also depends on other problems you may have, such as a mental health problem.

Your doctor may give you medicines to help reduce withdrawal symptoms.

What's the best treatment program for you?

Your doctor can help you decide which type of program is best for you.

  • In outpatient treatment, you regularly go to a mental health clinic, counselor's office, hospital clinic, or local health department for treatment.
  • In inpatient treatment, you stay at a facility and have treatment during the day or evening. This usually lasts 1 to 6 weeks. You most likely will then go to outpatient treatment.
  • In residential treatment, you live at the facility while you recover. These programs may last for months. This may be a good option if you have a long history of alcohol or drug use, have a bad home situation, or don't have social support.

If you are thinking about going into a treatment program, here are some questions to ask.

What does a treatment program include?

Counseling

Treatment programs usually include counseling, such as:

  • Individual and group therapy, where you talk about your recovery with a counselor or with other people who are trying to quit. You can get support from others who have struggled with alcohol.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), where you learn to change thoughts and actions that make you more likely to use alcohol. A counselor teaches you ways to deal with cravings and avoid going back to alcohol.
  • Motivational interviewing (MI), where you resolve mixed feelings about quitting and getting treatment. A counselor helps you find personal motivation to change.
  • Motivational enhancement therapy (MET), which uses motivational interviewing to help you find motivation to quit. It usually lasts for 2 to 4 sessions.
  • Brief intervention therapy, which provides feedback, advice, and goal-setting in very short counseling sessions.
  • Couples and family therapy, which can help you become and stay sober and keep good relationships within your family.
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