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Substance Abuse and Addiction Health Center

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Drug Abuse and Dependence - Treatment

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.

Seeking treatment

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.

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