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American Addiction Centers National Rehabs Directory

A Guide to Drug Abuse Help and Treatment

The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines drug abuse as a disease that causes users to continue taking drugs despite the harmful effects of doing so. Because addiction is a disease, there are many sources of drug abuse help available. Drug abuse treatment is tailored to the individual, as no two cases of abuse have the same causes and effects. With the right tools and support, drug addicts have the potential to make positive changes in their lives.

Outpatient vs. Residential Treatment

Residential drug treatment is when an addict lives at a rehab facility for a certain length of time. These facilities are staffed with psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, social workers, and other people who have experience helping people overcome the physical and psychological aspects of drug addiction. Research shows that drug abuse treatment can help patients get their lives back. There are several key principles that should be used for any effective treatment program. These principles include the following:

  • Treatment should be readily available to addicts.
  • Effective treatment involves attending to the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the addict.
  • Addicts need to remain in treatment for an adequate period of time to improve the chances of success.
  • Not everyone will respond well to the same treatment.
  • Counseling should be used as a treatment method for any type of drug abuse.
  • Medications can improve the outcomes of drug abuse treatment.
  • Drug treatment programs should assess patients for communicable diseases and teach people to modify risky behaviors.

drug abused man holding hands on the head The first step is detox, which is when the drug addict begins to withdraw from drugs. Drug withdrawal causes physical and psychological effects, so it is important to go through this process under the watch of experienced professionals. Staff members may give the addict medications to help cope with the physical symptoms of withdrawal. Some facilities do not provide detox support, so it is important to compare facilities before making a treatment decision.

Education is another important component of drug abuse treatment. Trained professionals help addicts realize that they have an addiction and provide support for making better decisions. When addicts first enter treatment, they may be in denial about their problems. Educational programs help addicts overcome denial and start taking the steps needed to live a sober life.

Individual and group counseling sessions are designed to teach addicts coping skills to help them overcome their addictions. During individual sessions, the patient meets with a counselor and discusses ways to avoid drugs and alcohol. These sessions may also help addicts develop positive coping mechanisms for stress. Several addicts meet with a facilitator during group counseling sessions. Group sessions are beneficial because participants support and empathize with one another. These sessions help addicts learn to seek support for their problems instead of using drugs to cope. If you need more information on finding a facility that offers addiction counseling, call our confidential helpline at .

Did you know?

Luxury drug rehab facilities offer lower staff-to-client ratios and amenities such as saunas, art therapy, aromatherapy, yoga, rock climbing, hiking, and massage therapy.

Family counseling sessions are designed to improve the recovery process. These sessions help family members learn about addiction and find out how they should support addicts in their recovery. Family members also explain how they have been affected by drug abuse, so addicts are able to understand that their addiction affects everyone around them. Family sessions also help family members stop enabling addicts and start providing support within specific boundaries.

Motivational incentives are used to help addicts abstain from drugs. The incentives are positive things that help people shift their focus from drugs to positive things like having a pet or improving academic performance. Also known as contingency management, motivational incentives are an important part of any residential or outpatient treatment program. There are seven major principles associated with the use of motivational incentives. They are as follows:

  • The incentives must focus on a target behavior.
  • Therapists need to choose incentive audiences carefully, as some addicts do not respond to this treatment method.
  • Therapists need to choose incentives carefully, as not all addicts respond to the same things.
  • Therapists must also provide an appropriate level of reinforcement.
  • The frequency of incentive distribution plays an important role in the success of using motivational incentives.
  • The timing of each incentive distribution must be carefully planned.
  • Therapists should discontinue providing incentives once an addict has internalized the recovery process.

Inpatient programs typically last for four weeks. Once someone is ready to leave residential drug abuse treatment, it is time for after-care and support. Outpatient treatment options include attendance at 12-step meetings, living in a halfway house, meeting with a counselor, and attending family therapy sessions. Before an inpatient rehab program ends, counselors help addicts develop individualized recovery plans. Having individualized plans helps addicts control their impulses and improves the chances of recovery.


Narcotics Anonymous has a significant presence in the United States. There are more than 2,000 NA meetings per week in the New York metro area alone.

Pharmacological Treatment

Detox may cause anxiety, insomnia, sweating, muscle aches, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. There are medications available to ease these symptoms and make the detox process easier. Buprenorphine is a drug used to help people withdraw from opiates. In some cases, it shortens the length of time it takes someone to detox from drugs. The most common side effects of this drug include constipation, nausea, and vomiting. It can also produce side effects that mimic those of drug withdrawal. These side effects include diarrhea, sweating, crying, distress, insomnia, drug cravings, irritability, muscle cramps, and dilation of the pupils. If you would like more information about getting help for detox and drug addiction, call us at .


Some facilities require addicts to complete the detox process before enrolling in a rehab program.

After detox, some medications may help chemical levels in the brain return to normal. The action of these medications reduces cravings and prevents relapse. The type of medication given depends on the type of drug a person abuses. Opioids are synthetic drugs that act in the same way as opiates such as morphine and heroin. The drugs used to help with opiate addiction also relieve cravings for opioid drugs. Naltrexone is a drug that blocks the effects of opiates and opioids, but it should only be used in those who have gone through the detox process.

Some facilities even offer anesthesia-assisted withdrawal. This is when a physician administers anesthesia along with large doses of drugs that affect the drug receptors in the brain. The aim of this type of treatment is to reduce the length of time it takes a person to detox. More research is needed to determine the effects of anesthesia-assisted detox, as it can have serious side effects.

Medical Treatment

“Persistent drug abuse takes a toll on the body as well as the mind.”
Persistent drug abuse takes a toll on the body as well as the mind. Getting drug abuse help is a good way for addicts to get help for the physical effects of drug abuse. These effects vary based on the type of drug a person uses. Amphetamines increase blood pressure and cause headaches, blurred vision, rapid breathing, shaking, and sweating. Those who smoke marijuana may experience lung problems as a result of inhaling smoke. Inhalant abusers may experience headaches or nosebleeds. Getting help for these issues is an important part of the recovery process.

12-Step Programs

Twelve-step programs are an essential component of addiction recovery. These programs provide support and resources for those going through drug abuse treatment. Each program has a set of 12 guiding principles used to recover from addiction and compulsive behavior. The 12-step process requires an addict to do the following:

  • Admit that he or she cannot control the addiction
  • Work with a sponsor to examine past errors
  • Learn new behaviors
  • Make amends for errors committed against others
  • Help other addicts

The 12 steps of this program serve to help addicts learn positive ways to control their impulses. The first step is admitting that life has become unmanageable due to drug addiction. The second step is believing that a higher power can help overcome addiction. Step three is deciding to turn life over to God. The fourth step requires addicts to take a moral inventory and assess the wrongs they have committed. Step five is admitting wrongdoing, which is followed by asking God to eliminate these character flaws.

Step seven entails asking God to get rid of any shortcomings. The eighth step consists of making a list of people who have been hurt by the addiction. The ninth step is one of the most important, as this is the step that requires addicts to apologize and make amends to those they have harmed. Step 10 involves taking personal inventories on a regular basis and promptly admitting to misdeeds. The eleventh step aims to improve connection with God through prayer and meditation. The twelfth and final step is to help other addicts practice these principles.

Providing Support

How to Help an Alcoholic or Addict

Help for alcoholics and addicts can be found through hospitals, clinics, interventions, and therapies, as well as through groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Read More

A positive support system is essential for anyone who needs drug abuse help. One of the most supportive things friends and family members can do is to learn about the nature of addiction. Telling the addict that he or she should be able to stop at any time is not supportive or helpful. Since addiction is a disease involving chemicals in the brain, addicts truly do not have total control over their drug habits. When friends and family members commit to recognizing the chemical aspects of addiction, they are more likely to be able to offer proper and helpful support and encouragement. To learn more about providing support for a drug addict, click here to contact us or call our 24/7 confidential hotline at .

Avoiding judgmental comments and behavior is also important for those who want to help someone undergoing drug abuse treatment. Making comments about addictive behavior will not stop someone from taking drugs. In some cases, these comments actually make the problem worse. Use positive language in your interactions with the addict, as this will help prevent conflict.

Refusing to enable an addict is an important part of the recovery process. Enabling is a process that serves to reinforce negative behaviors or to make an addiction worse. When you do things that addicts should be able to do on their own, you are enabling them to continue with their addictions. If you want to offer drug abuse help to a loved one, the following are some of the things that you should stop doing:

  • Calling in sick for the person when he or she is too sick to go to work
  • Making excuses for the addict’s behavior
  • Lying or covering up the addictive behavior
  • Bailing the addicted person out of jail
  • Paying legal fees for someone charged with drug possession
  • Taking the blame for someone else’s addictive behavior
  • Avoiding the problem by discussing other topics
  • Paying bills that the addict should be paying
  • Loaning the addict money
  • Finishing projects that the drug addict should be finishing

All of these enabling behaviors help addicts avoid the consequences of their behavior. Getting help for your enabling behavior is one of the keys to providing drug abuse help to a loved one. There are organizations and treatment programs that help the family members and friends of drug addicts learn how to set boundaries and handle conflict.

How to approach someone with an addiction will depend on his or her state of mind. Someone who is in total denial about an addiction may not listen to your concerns. When dealing with this type of person, setting realistic boundaries can keep the relationship intact. You should also let the addict know that you will not support the addiction with money or other resources.

Someone who acknowledges having a drug problem will be more inclined to listen to what you have to say. In many cases, addicts realize they need help, but they are afraid of making a life-changing decision. Consider your words carefully before offering advice. Your helpful and supportive behavior can help an addict make the decision to seek drug abuse help and treatment.

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