Treatment for drug abuse or dependence usually includes group therapy, one or more types of counseling, and drug education. A 12-step program is often part of treatment and continues afterward as part of your recovery.
Treatment doesn't just deal with drugs. It helps you take control of your life so you don't have to depend on drugs. You'll learn good reasons to quit drugs. Staying drug-free is a lifelong process that takes commitment and effort.
You might start with your family doctor, or your doctor may recommend that you enter a treatment facility. A friend could bring you to a self-help group, such as Narcotics Anonymous, or you might walk into a clinic that deals with drug abuse.
You may have a treatment team to help you. This team may include a psychologist or psychiatrist, counselors, doctors, social workers, nurses, and a case manager. A case manager helps plan and manage your treatment.
You may be asked questions about your drug use, health problems, work, and living situation. Be open and honest to get the best treatment possible. Your team may write a plan, which includes your treatment goals and ways to reach those goals. This helps you stay on track.
Your doctor may decide you need medical care to manage withdrawal symptoms when you first quit using drugs. This is sometimes called detoxification, or detox.
People who are dependent on drugs often have to go to a hospital or treatment facility. Detox usually is done under the care of a doctor, because withdrawal can be dangerous without medical care. A doctor may prescribe medicines to help with withdrawal symptoms.
Treatment for a drug problem usually involves one or more types of therapy.
- In group therapy, you talk about your recovery with other people who are trying to quit.
- In cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), you learn to change the thoughts and actions that make you more likely to use drugs.
- With motivational interviewing (MI), you resolve mixed feelings you have about quitting and getting treatment.
- Motivational enhancement therapy (MET) uses motivational interviewing to help you find motivation to quit and get you started toward recovery.
- Couples or family counseling can help you to stop using drugs, stay drug-free, and improve your relationships with your partner and family.
Treatment usually includes going to a support group, such as going to Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings. Your family members might also want to attend a support group such as Nar-Anon.
You may take medicines to help you quit or to help you overcome withdrawal symptoms. Medicines often are used for addiction to opiate drugs like heroin or certain painkillers. Medicines that can help you include methadone (such as Dolophine) or naltrexone (such as ReVia).
Treatment programs can be outpatient, inpatient, or residential. They offer similar therapies. Your treatment team can help you decide which type of program is best for you.
- In outpatient treatment, you regularly go to a mental health clinic, a counselor's office, a hospital clinic, or a local health department for treatment.
- In inpatient treatment, you stay at a hospital and have therapies during the day or evening. You most likely will then go to outpatient therapy.
- Residential treatment provides a place for you to live for 6 months or more while you recover. You get therapy and 24-hour care.
Some treatment programs give rewards, called vouchers, when you stay off drugs. The rewards may get bigger when you go for a long time without drugs.
Many programs give regular drug tests while you go through treatment. Knowing that you will be tested can make you more likely to resist your cravings.
What to think about
People with drug problems often have other problems. They may need other treatments, or other resources may be available to help them with the drug problem.
- If you have a drug problem and a mental health problem, you will need treatment for both problems. Doctors call this a dual diagnosis.
- Older adults also may have drug problems because of misuse of prescription medicines such as painkillers or sleeping pills.
- Drug abuse in the military is like drug abuse in the general population. But there may be other concerns, such as post-traumatic stress disorder or military sexual trauma.
- Some people are sent to drug treatment because of a court decision. This may happen if you have a drug problem and you commit a crime. A court may require treatment and then keep track of your progress. Treatment often is available in prison.