Treatments for Substance Use Disorders


Treating substance abuse disorders can be challenging but, with the right treatment methods, sobriety is possible. Finding the right treatment is one of the most important decisions you will make during your recovery. There are several programs and methods to choose from, and you must choose a treatment program that is the most beneficial for you. It can mean the difference between maintaining sobriety and relapsing. There are two types of treatments for substance use disorders: biological and psychosocial.

Biological Treatments Help the Body

Biological treatments are beneficial for not only your mind but your body as well. These treatments are primarily used during the detox phase of treatment. Some medications can help you wean yourself off of a substance to avoid the development of additional health problems.

Medications such as benzodiazepine, antidepressants, and methadone are commonly used to ease the symptoms of withdrawal and reduce the desire for substances and maintain your use at a controlled level. A methadone maintenance program is a treatment used to help you gradually withdraw from heroin. Biological treatments are especially important because they can be life-saving. Self-detox can be dangerous and even deadly for heavy users, so you must consider biological treatments to maintain your health and safety during the detox process.

Psychosocial Treatments and Therapy

The techniques that are learned in psychosocial treatment have proven to be effective when treating substance use disorders. Behavior and cognitive techniques typically have treatment goals that you and your therapist will collaborate to achieve. One goal is to motivate you to stop using the addictive drug. Another goal is to equip you with coping skills that enable you to replace the use of substances to cope with stress and intrusive thoughts.

Psychosocial treatments also seek to change the reinforcements for using substances. You will learn how to disengage from social circles and avoid environments that trigger drug and alcohol use. Psychosocial treatments also provide you with individual support and teach you how to ask for support from non-using friends and family members. Behavioral treatment, cognitive treatment, motivational interviews, relapse prevention, and 12-step programs are all considered to be effective psychosocial treatment methods.

Behavioral Treatments Can Help

Behavioral treatments, such as classical or operant conditioning, can be used alone or in combination with biological or psychosocial therapies. The primary goal is to learn to avoid drugs and alcohol to avoid adverse responses. This type of treatment will teach you how to say no when you are offered drugs or alcohol by employing techniques that deal with social pressure.

Cognitive Treatments Change Perceptions

Cognitive treatments are interventions that challenge your thoughts and perceptions about drinking and drug use. They also help you identify environments, people, or situations that cause you to use substances. A therapist will help you learn how to handle stressful situations in adaptive ways by doing things like reaching out to your support system or practicing effective problem-solving techniques. Cognitive-behavioral approaches have proven to be effective methods of treatment for substance use and dependency.

Motivational Interviewing Has a Different Structure

Motivational interviewing is a unique method of treatment because it is structured much differently than other psychosocial treatments. Interviewers use empathy to solidify your commitment to changing your substance use behaviors. Motivational interviewing theorizes that without motivation to change your substance use, habits you will not be able to benefit from any type of treatment, and the risk of relapsing is higher. Interviewers use what you disclose in the interview to draw out your desire and commitment to change.

Relapse Prevention Is an Important Key

Relapse prevention programs train you to view slips in sobriety as temporary and situationally caused. It explores reasons for relapsing and helps you develop coping strategies to maintain abstinence. Relapse prevention also addresses the guilt and shame that you may experience in the event of a relapse. You will learn how to identify risky situations that can lead to relapsing so you can successfully avoid them.

12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) have been extremely effective in treating substance use disorders. AA was founded in 1938, and since then it has produced several spin-off groups such as Narcotics Anonymous and Nicotine Anonymous. The 12 steps utilize guiding principles to help those in recovery from addiction, compulsion, and other behavioral issues or concerns.

A 12-step program encourages you to seek help from a higher power, acknowledge your weaknesses, ask for forgiveness, and encourage complete abstinence from substances. They normally take place within a group setting. One of the benefits of this method of treatment is that it provides you with moral and social support from the group as a whole and from individual members that are usually referred to as sponsors.

There are a lot of options when it comes to treating substance use disorders. Deciding which treatment is right for you can seem daunting given the fact that there are so many options. However, there is a method of treatment or combination of treatments that are perfect for you. Finding the right treatment for substance use disorder is the first step in becoming a healthier, sober you. Here at Valiant Living, we can help get your life back on track and get you into recovery. Valiant Living provides a variety of services for men who are struggling with addiction in an environment where you feel safe. We also treat any co-occurring mental illness which may be contributing to your substance abuse. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction or would like more information on our services, call to speak to a caring, trained staff member at (303) 952-5035.