If you or a loved one suffers from substance abuse or addiction and you are asking yourself which drug rehabilitation program will be most effective, you have done two things right. First, you have recognized a need and expressed a desire to help with change.
Second, you recognize that drug rehabilitation is not a one-size-fits-all treatment. In fact, because there are so many factors underlying a person’s addiction, the treatment must be strictly individualized. It is important that you research your options before choosing a treatment method or program.
Unfortunately, there are many people who do not receive treatment or receive ineffective treatment and enter a lifelong cycle that takes them in and out of rehabilitation centers. If you are seeking treatment for yourself or a loved one, you must first accept that there are no quick fixes for drug addiction.
Addiction is a brain disease that physically affects brain circuits involved in reward and motivation, learning and memory, and the inhibitory control of behavior, making it difficult to treat.
In addition, treatment sometimes requires continuous or intermittent long-term intervention to support the addict’s recovery of sobriety.
What Makes a Program Effective?
Effective programs usually incorporate multiple components, each directed toward a specific aspect of the disease and its consequences. Effective treatment should help a person do the following:
- Stop using drugs
- Maintain a drug free lifestyle
- Achieving productive functioning in the family, at work and in society
Fortunately, scientific research has helped improve treatment methods over the years. However, studies have shown that many facilities have not combined the most effective methods available. Interestingly, the “you get what you pay for” rule doesn’t always apply to drug rehabilitation programs.
Findings have shown that oftentimes, low-cost, publicly funded clinics have more qualified therapists and better outcomes than the high-end residential centers typically used by celebrities.
Finding the Right Program for You or a Loved One
Science writer, Anne M. Fletcher, has dedicated much of her career to discovering what makes drug treatment programs effective. He claims that most people recover from drug addiction entirely on their own by attending self-help groups and/or by seeing an individual counselor or therapist. These are the five steps she recommends for researching a treatment program that’s right for you or your loved one.
- Get an independent assessment of your need for treatment and the type of treatment needed. Use an expert who is not affiliated with the program you are considering.
- View program personnel credentials, which must include at least a master’s level education. Physician therapists must be certified by the American Board of Addiction Medicine.
- Choose a program that matches your beliefs and values.
- See a therapist to determine your future treatment plan. It has to be individual, one-on-one, and with a licensed addiction counselor.
- Treatment must address the medical, psychological, social, vocational, and legal problems associated with the individual, as these can become underlying issues that sabotage recovery.
When you meet with a potential counselor, consider some of the key principles of effective treatment offered by the National Institute on Drug Abuse:
- The treatment must address individual needs, not just treat drug addiction.
- The patient must remain under treatment for a sufficient amount of time.
- Behavioral therapy such as individual and group counseling is the most commonly used treatment.
- Medications can be effective when combined with other behavioral therapies such as counselling.
- The treatment plan must be continuously evaluated and adjusted to meet the patient’s needs.
- Treatment does not always have to be voluntary to be effective.
- Oddities can and do occur during treatment. Continuous monitoring is required.
- Treatment programs should include testing for communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C and tuberculosis.
According to the Center for Learning the Genetic Sciences at the University of Utah, the most effective method used today is a combination of drug and behavioral therapy. With 40 to 70 percent of patients remaining drug-free, you can move forward with hope as you begin your chosen treatment plan.