If you’ve made the bold decision to seek help with a substance or alcohol use disorder, you may be wondering how to choose the right treatment program. How can you tell if an addiction treatment program or facility is effective? What are the components and parts of programs that get the best results?
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), your first step should be to speak to your primary care doctor, who can assess the severity of your substance or alcohol use disorder, recommend a treatment plan, determine if medication is needed and review your general one Health...
If your doctor recommends a treatment program, you should carefully review the programs to ensure that they offer effective treatments and that they fit your needs well. The NIAAA suggests asking the following questions:
- What type of treatment does the program or provider offer?
- Is the treatment tailored to the individual?
- What is expected of the patient?
- Is the success of the treatment measured?
- How does the program deal with relapses?
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use or addiction problems, contact the National Drug Abuse and Mental Health Authority (SAMHSA) helpline at 1-800-662-4357 Information about support and treatment facilities in your area.
Additional mental health resources can be found in our National Helpline Database.
Treatment of substance use disorders: what to look for
While there is no one-size-fits-all or exact formula for effective substance use disorder treatment, according to SAMHSA, there are five key signs of quality treatment, according to SAMHSA...
Accreditation and Employees
According to SAMHSA, it is important to ensure that the facility and staff are state licensed or certified to treat substance use and mental disorders. Likewise, a reputable facility should have satisfaction surveys that have been rated by other people who have used their services.
Many experts say that a high staff-to-patient ratio is also important, as more staff often translates into more supportive, personalized care.
Medical treatments cannot “cure” drinking problems, but they can be combined with other interventions and therapies to provide effective treatment. Drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of alcohol addiction and substance use disorders include:..
- Revia, Depade, Vivitrol (naltrexone): Reduce alcohol cravings and block opioid receptors
- Campral (acamprosate): Reduces post-acute withdrawal symptoms in the early stages of alcohol abstinence
- Antabuse (disulfiram): Causes unpleasant symptoms such as flushing, nausea, vomiting, and headache when drinking alcohol
- Suboxon (buprenorphine):: works by blocking the opioid receptors in the brain, preventing opioid withdrawal symptoms
- Methadone: alters the effects of pain on the nervous system without the euphoria and sedation associated with heroin and opioids
In addition to drug treatment therapies, an effective substance use or alcohol disorder program should offer a variety of proven addiction treatments, including:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Drug and alcohol counseling
- Education about the risk of alcohol abuse
- Motivational therapy
- Support from friends
- Treatment of concurrent mental disorders
SAMHSA recommends finding a treatment facility that includes family therapy techniques in their treatment protocol..Family therapy The aim is to help families become aware of their own needs and prevent substance abuse from passing from one generation to the next.
Recovery from addiction is an ongoing process. Therefore, it is important that your treatment program provides support at every step of the journey, including:..
- Ongoing advice
- Recovery coaching and support
- Sober living
- Employment support
- Continuation of the family commitment
Other important treatment components
In a report titled “A Solid Investment: Identifying and Treating Alcohol Problems,” researchers at George Washington University Medical Center consulted treatment and rehabilitation industry professionals to identify agents for effective alcohol management, including:
- Contract with patient: Also known as an emergency management or behavioral contract, this approach uses a formal written contract between a client and a therapist (or parent or teacher) that describes behavior change goals, reinforcements, rewards, and punishments. Emergency contracts can be very effective in changing behavior as the rules are clearly formulated and both parties cannot keep their promises.
- early detection: Screenings and brief interventions (for non-dependent problem drinkers) aim to trick the person into reducing their alcohol consumption or changing their harmful drinking patterns.
- Long stays: While there is no magic number, numerous studies have found that treatment for at least 90 days leads to better results and a lower risk of relapse...
- Training of social skills: As a type of behavioral therapy, social skills training can help people with alcohol use disorders identify stressful situations where their drinking has been a problem in the past and teach them skills to cope better with those situations.
- Specialized services: Medical, psychiatric, work, or family problems can make recovery more difficult. Treatment programs should be tailored to specialized services tailored to the patient’s individual needs through “problem-to-service matching”.
- Support groups: Participating in support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous or SMART Recovery can be an active part of treatment both during and after professional intervention so that you stay on track when your life returns to normal.
The ASAM criteria
According to the ASAM criteria established by the American Society of Addiction Medicine, the following principles should be used to determine the placement, continued stay, transfer, or discharge of patients with addiction and concomitant disease...
- Look at the entire patientincluding all of their areas of life as well as all risks, needs, strengths and goals.
- Design treatment for the individual. There is no single addiction treatment, but different plans from person to person, depending on the type or intensity of care.
- Offer individual treatment stays, depending on individual progress and changing needs.
- Do not use “errors” from handling as an indicator of proper care.
- Offer a range of servicesincluding early intervention, outpatient services, intensive outpatient services, inpatient / individual services, medically administered intensive impatient services.
- Show addiction as “a treatable, chronic medical disease that involves complex interactions between brain circuits, genetics, environment and life experiences of an individual.”
A word from Verywell
Beginning treatment for an alcohol or substance use disorder is a big step that requires research and investigation to ensure that you are making a treatment decision with confidence. If you’re not sure where to start, don’t just postpone the help you need. Turn to a trusted doctor and / or loved one for help as you begin your journey to a better, more sober life.