Principles of Effective Treatment
Understanding the illness and the necessary treatment
Alcoholism and drug addiction has so many dimensions and disrupts so many aspects of an individual’s life, treatment for this illness is never simple. Drug treatment must help the individual stop using drugs, and maintain a drug-free lifestyle, while achieving productive functioning in the family, at work, and in society. Effective drug abuse and addiction treatment programs typically incorporate many components, each directed to a particular aspect of the illness and its consequences.
Research by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) shows that addiction is clearly treatable. Through treatment that is tailored to individual needs, patients can learn to control their condition and live relatively normal lives.
Treatment can have a profound effect not only on alcohol and drug abusers, but on society as a whole by significantly improving social and psychological functioning, decreasing related criminality and violence, and reducing the spread of AIDS. It can also dramatically reduce the costs to society of drug abuse.
More than two decades of scientific research have yielded a set of fundamental principles that characterize effective drug abuse treatment. NIDA has outlined these 13 Principles, which are summarized below, with added information pertinent to Willamette Family programs
- No single treatment is appropriate for all individuals. Matching treatment settings, interventions, and services to each individual's particular problems and needs is critical to his or her ultimate success in returning to productive functioning in the family, workplace, and society.
- Treatment needs to be readily available. Because individuals who are addicted to drugs may be uncertain about entering treatment, taking advantage of opportunities when they are ready for treatment is crucial.
- Effective treatment attends to multiple needs of the individual, not just his or her drug use. To be effective, treatment must address the individual's drug use and any associated medical, psychological, social, vocational, and legal problems.
- An individual's treatment and services plan must be assessed continually and modified as necessary to ensure that the plan meets the person's changing needs. A patient may require varying combinations of services and treatment components during the course of treatment and recovery. It is critical that the treatment approach be appropriate to the individual's age, gender, ethnicity, and culture.
- Remaining in treatment for an adequate period of time is critical for treatment effectiveness. The appropriate duration for an individual depends on his or her problems and needs. Research indicates that for most patients, the threshold of significant improvement is reached at about 3 months in treatment. Because people often leave treatment prematurely, programs should include strategies to engage and keep patients in treatment.
- Counseling (individual and/or group) and other behavioral therapies are critical components of effective treatment for addiction. In therapy, patients address issues of motivation, build skills to resist drug use, replace drug-using activities with constructive and rewarding nondrug-using activities, and improve problem-solving abilities. .)
- Medications are an important element of treatment for many patients, especially when combined with counseling and other behavioral therapies. Buprenophone is an FDA approved drug that has been proven effective in preventing the need to continue heroin/opiate use and in helping people to withdrawal safely from heroin, opiates and prescription pain medications.
- Addicted or drug-abusing individuals with coexisting mental disorders should have both disorders treated in an integrated way. Because addictive disorders and mental disorders often occur in the same individual, patients presenting for either condition should be assessed and treated for the co-occurrence of the other type of disorder.
- Medical detoxification is only the first stage of addiction treatment and by itself does little to change long-term drug use. Medical detoxification safely manages the acute physical symptoms of withdrawal associated with stopping drug use. While detoxification alone is rarely sufficient to help addicts achieve long-term abstinence, for some individuals it is a strongly indicated precursor to effective drug addiction treatment.
- Treatment does not need to be voluntary to be effective. Sanctions or enticements in the family, employment setting, or criminal justice system can increase significantly both treatment entry and retention rates and the success of drug treatment interventions.
- Possible drug use during treatment must be monitored continuously. Lapses to drug use can occur during treatment. The objective monitoring of a patient's drug and alcohol use during treatment, such as through urinalysis or other tests, can help the patient withstand urges to use drugs.
- Treatment programs should provide assessment for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases, and counseling to help patients modify or change behaviors that place themselves or others at risk of infection. Counseling can help patients avoid high-risk behavior. Counseling also can help people who are already infected manage their illness.
- Recovery from drug addiction can be a long-term process and frequently requires multiple episodes of treatment. As with other chronic illnesses, relapses to drug use can occur during or after successful treatment episodes. Addicted individuals may require prolonged treatment and multiple episodes of treatment to achieve long-term abstinence and fully restored functioning. Participation in self-help support programs during and following treatment often is helpful in maintaining abstinence.
Willamette Family provides the services that have been proven to work effectively in treating alcohol and drug abuse. Treatment is effective when offered by qualified professionals and Willamette Family has been addressing these needs in our community for over 40 years.