Drug and Alcohol - Addiction Recovery

5 Proven Ways of Treating Drug & Alcohol Addiction

How is drug and alcohol addiction treated? Here’s 5 proven ways substance abuse treatment works. Learn more in our blog!

5 Proven Ways of Treating Drug & Alcohol Addiction

Table of contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

January 10, 2023

The Forge Recovery Center

Drug addiction has become a prevalent issue all across the world. As cited on the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) research sheet, around 20.4 million people in the US have fallen prey to Substance Use Disorder (SUD).

Drug addiction disrupts both the mental and physical well-being of an individual to the level that affects their functional ability. Hence, one must seek proper treatment before it takes a toll on one's well-being. The treatment procedure will vary based on the needs of the patients.

To get better clarity on the treatment methods, read on.

What is Drug Addiction?

Drug addiction is a grave neuropsychological brain disorder marked by a persistent and uncontrollable urge to use or consume substances, or engage in a kind of behavior leading individuals toward facing harmful consequences. It is a chronic disorder that prompts individuals to seek drugs despite their detrimental side effects.

Continuous usage of drugs alters brain function that triggers cravings and tampers with one's self-control. Hence, this disorder is also characterized as a relapsing disease as it prompts individuals to

In addition, long-term consumption can damage organs, which can escalate to death. There are several risk factors that are associated with drug consumption, including aggressive behavior, mental disorders, past trauma, and so on.

Can Drug Abuse be Treated Successfully?

Yes, with the enhancement of medical facilities, it has become feasible for one to seek effective treatment for drug addiction. However, the treatment procedure varies; patients might need long and continuous care to come out of it ultimately.

5 Effective Ways to Treat Drug Addiction

There are many effective means by which an individual can treat drug addiction.

#1: Detoxification

The first and the most effective way to treat drug addiction is opting for medically assisted drug detox. Detoxification detaches the body from addictive substances. Addictive substances alter the chemicals in the brain and change the way it responds to pleasures.

Though detoxification is not effective to cure underlying behavioral causes of drug addiction, it will show noticeable results when implemented with other therapies and when performed under professional care.

#2: Counseling and Behavioral Therapies

Counseling for drug addiction is also effective in treating addiction. Individuals can reach out to a counselor and get the necessary support. Counselors often set short-term goals that will help them fight their addiction. The process to cure drug addiction might seem challenging, but with the prompt assistance of a counselor, one can heal from it.

Behavioral therapy for drug addiction changes one’s attitude and behavior and uplifts healthy life skills. Several therapy sessions are implemented based on the patient's mental and physical condition to help them come out of the drug addiction trap.

Multi-dimensional Family Therapy

Multi-Dimensional Family Therapy (MDFT) is designed to improve how a family functions around a patient who has fallen into drug addiction. This therapy includes the family of the individual, which will help treatment providers to understand the several effects of an individual's drug abuse pattern.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is another effective drug addiction treatment therapy. Individuals can identify the unhealthy and irrational changes in their behavior alongside helping them note the triggers point and strive for efficient coping skills. Individuals can understand their triggers and opt for them with other therapeutic techniques.

Contingency Management

Contingency Management is an effective way to treat drug addiction and combat drug relapse. It involves giving out tangible rewards that will motivate patients to be consistent with the treatment procedure.

#3: Medication

Medication plays an important role in curing drug addiction. Especially when it is combined with behavioral therapies, it proves effective in reducing addictive behaviors and cravings. It also leads to the enhancement of mood.

Lofexidine is one approved medicine that is generally used to curb cravings and manage withdrawal symptoms. Besides getting different ways of drug treatment, patients can also opt for different options for care. For example, they can preferably opt for outpatient treatment, inpatient treatment, etc.

Residential or inpatient treatment is for individuals who are suffering from severe problems resulting from substance use disorders (SUDs). Residential treatment includes therapeutic communities, recovery housing, and short-term residential treatment.

In such treatment, patients are treated in a licensed residential medical facility and kept under the supervision of specialized doctors. Furthermore, several therapeutic approaches are incorporated to help patients lead a drug and crime-free life.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medication-Assisted Treatment or MAT, also known as drug replacement therapy, involves the use of medication to treat drug addiction. It is an effective and safe way to sustain recovery and also goes a long way in preventing drug overdose.

MAT medicines enable individuals to replace their negative experiences of drug usage. It also helps reduce cravings and provides a simple solution to withdrawal symptoms. Some medicines that are given under MAT are as follows.


Buprenorphine is an FDA-approved opioid painkiller used to cure disorders and chronic pain that results from the use of opioids. It produces a low to moderate sensation of euphoria or respiratory depression.

This medicine is prescribed as a component of a comprehensive treatment plan that helps in getting away with the consequence of dependency on opioids, diminishing withdrawal symptoms, and saving one in case of overdose.


Naltrexone is another medication used to treat alcohol addiction and opioid dependency. This opioid agonist curbs withdrawal symptoms and cravings and lowers the feeling of euphoria. It is sold under the name Revia and Vivitrol. This medicine is available both as pills and injections.

#4: Prevention of Relapse

Medication-based treatment is provided to drug abusers for the re-establishment of normal brain functioning and also to reduce drug cravings. Medications like methadone, bupropion (Zyban®), Naltrexone, etc. are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agency for treating opioid, tobacco, and alcohol abuse problems.

Furthermore, drug abusers who use more than one particular drug, need specific treatment targeted to all the drugs they use. Researchers are working on developing relapse-prevention medication for other drugs like cocaine, meth, and cannabis.

#5: Dual Diagnosis Treatment: Co-occurring Mental Health Issue

Often drug abusers remain at risk for the development of chronic diseases and display co-occurring disorders. This is especially true when both Substance Use Disorder (SUD) coexists with mental illnesses in people. As per the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2018, 9.2 million US netizens showcased co-occurring disorders.

Anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, conduct disorder, major depressive disorder, etc. are a few common mental illnesses witnessed in such cases.

Integrated treatments for these cases have shown to have the best results. Integrated treatments or dual diagnosis treatment combines mental illness and drug addiction intervention methods by linking abusers to personalized service providers who help treat the emotional and physical aspects of drug abuse.

The professional service providers function on delivering care to co-occurring disorders, based on 3 models:

  • Coordinated care

  • Co-located care and

  • Completely integrated care

Via integrated care, a comprehensive recovery of patients is possible.

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What Are Co-occurring Mental Health Disorders?

Co-occurring mental health condition is common in individuals suffering From Substance Use Disorder (SUD). Symptoms of a co-occurring mental disorder may include anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, etc.

There is a significant correlation between drug abuse and mental health. Overconsumption of drugs leads individuals to several mental health problems. Current statistics reflect that around 37.9% of people have developed mental illnesses with SUDs. The most effective treatment that will help individuals treat these conditions is to opt for dual-diagnosis care.

In order to cure co-occurring conditions, prevent relapse, and tackle withdrawal symptoms, different kinds of medication and devices are put to use.

What Medications and Devices Help to Treat Drug Addiction?

For proper management of withdrawal symptoms, to treat co-occurring disorders, and to prevent relapse, the FDA has approved the combined usage of devices and medications in treatment.

For preventing relapse

Proper medication helps patients gain stable brain function and stop them from the compulsive urge to seek drugs. The medication differs depending on the addictive substances that individuals consume.

For instance, buprenorphine, methadone, naltrexone, etc., are used to cure opioid addiction. Naltrexone must be used only after patients have undergone detoxification.

For treating withdrawal symptoms

Medical professionals seek refuge in several medications and devices to suppress and reduce drug withdrawal symptoms. An electronic stimulation device granted by Food and Drug Administration will be used to manage the opioid withdrawal symptoms. Even the non-opioid medicine, lofexidine, also proves beneficial.

What are the Barriers to Drug Addiction Treatment?

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) states, around 15.4% of adult Americans suffer from substance use disorder annually. Though drug addiction is treatable, according to NIDA collected data, several potential barriers are noted, stopping one from receiving treatment.

The barriers include:

  • Individuals are generally in denial, and they are not willing to stop using or consuming addictive substances

  • Many of the individuals are not financially stable enough to bear the cost of treatment

  • They are concerned regarding the response that they will receive from society

  • A certain percentage of people fear losing their job, which is a hindrance in their path of recovery from drug addiction.

  • Individuals feel directionless regarding receiving the right help.

  • Some of them stated that they are not getting the type of treatment that they are looking for

Drug addiction is a mental health condition that hampers one's personal and professional life. However, it can be treated with proper therapy and medications alongside prompt assistance from professional help.

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We’re here to help you find your way

Do you have more questions about mental health or drug addiction? Reach out.

The Forge Recovery Center Provides Expert, Evidence-Based Care for Drug & Alcohol Addiction.

At The Forge Recovery Center, we believe in the power of good relationships. Our treatment modalities include a dual diagnosis program, EMDR, DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy), etc. All these treatments are carried out in a highly regulated environment, helping patients come out victorious from drug addiction. Substance use disorder affects overall well-being and strains relationships. If you or a loved one is struggling, contact The Forge Recovery Center today.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Mental Health Disorders stem from drug and alcohol addiction?

It is difficult to state whether drug addiction is a major cause of mental illnesses or if people with mental health disorders turn to prescription-based drugs for self-medication treatment. However, some genes and sections of our brain are involved in both brain disorders and drug addiction.

How does Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) help to cure drug addiction?

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is an effective way to treat drug addiction that lays a strong emphasis on the patient's beliefs. It helps individuals realize their negative thoughts, changing the way they behave or reach out.

What are the most commonly accessible and widely consumed drugs?

Marijuana, tranquilizers of two types, benzodiazepines and barbiturates, stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall, cocaine, hallucinogens, inhalants, heroin etc., are some of the most commonly accessible and consumed drugs.

What are the symptoms of prolonged use of cocaine?

Individuals who take cocaine generally are hypersensitive to light and touch and are highly energetic. However, those who are consuming it on a large scale show cardiovascular irregularities and erratic behavior.

What is the difference between Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and addiction?

Substance Use Disorder (SUD) turns out to be mild, moderate, and severe depending on the consumption and usage of the addictive substances. However, addiction is considered to be a severe form of SUD.

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