There are two main treatment types that are effective for almost any addiction syndrome: medication and behavioral therapy. However, medication that treats addiction directly is not always available, so in this case, behavioral therapy is always an option that is effective and beneficial to patients.
Medication and Its Availability
For substances like nicotine, opioids, and alcohol, medications are available that are particularly beneficial to the needs of addicts. These medications, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, are effective at:
- Treating withdrawal and the symptoms it can cause, “including depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders, as well as restlessness or sleeplessness”
- Allowing the individual to stay in treatment longer by helping the brain adapt to the absence of the drug the individual once abused (minimizing cravings, etc.)
- Preventing relapse by minimizing stress and interfering with other triggers
Unfortunately, for other drugs of abuse, a specific medication has not been approved by the FDA to treat these issues and minimize relapse. Other medications may be used in this sense, but they are not direct treatments for addiction. Medication can be an extremely helpful option to many individuals, but it often depends on a case-by-case basis which medications are appropriate and whether or not they can be helpful to the patient.
Behavioral Therapy: Universally Available and Effective
The NIDA states, “Counseling and other behavioral therapies are the most commonly used forms of treatment.” This is because they can be easily tailored to meet the needs of each individual patient, and they do not need to be approved individually for each drug of abuse, as many of them are effective for multiple abuse syndromes. Programs like cognitive-behavioral therapy, contingency management, group therapy, and family therapy have all been found to be effective for a number of addiction syndromes and individuals, to the point where they are considered the most effective treatments for any addiction.
In some cases, especially in the case of adolescent addiction treatment, certain individuals may not be comfortable beginning with behavioral therapy because the talking aspect is not agreeable to them. In this instance, different types of therapy may be pertinent, such as art or dance therapy, but for the most part, behavioral therapy is the most effective treatment program across the board for any type of addiction and patient.
Combining the Two
Addiction treatment is at its most effective when medication and behavioral therapy are combined for the good of the patient. While this isn’t always possible, this has been found to be the most universally effective program for addicts of all ages, genders, backgrounds, and needs. Still, though, it is important to ensure that every individual receives an addiction treatment program that is catered to their specific situation and takes into account their specific needs for a treatment program.