An Overview of Addiction Treatment Modalities

Addiction is one of the most challenging diseases to treat. Those suffering from substance use disorders live the rest of their lives fighting their addiction, and around 37% of patients in one study experienced a relapse within three months of attaining sobriety. However, some addiction treatments have been scientifically proven to be effective.

Evidence-based addiction treatment is critical in fighting the addiction epidemics plaguing our world. Read on to learn about some of the most effective treatment modalities for addiction, both behavioral and medical.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy 

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most popular forms of treatment for addiction and a variety of other mental illnesses. This treatment modality is especially effective in treating alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, and nicotine addictions. In fact, CBT was initially developed as a way to combat alcoholism.

CBT focuses on changing learned behavioral patterns in patients. Individuals suffering from addiction who go through this treatment method learn to identify the behaviors that lead to abusing drugs and develop better coping strategies in those situations. They also learn to monitor themselves for signs of cravings and evaluate high-risk situations.

Contingency Management Interventions

Contingency management interventions (CMI) focus on rewarding individuals for positive behavior, particularly for staying clean. These programs can effectively treat addiction to alcohol, stimulants, opioids, marijuana, and nicotine. There are two types of CMI programs: voucher-based reinforcement (VBR) and prize incentives.

Voucher-based reinforcement provides patients with a voucher each time they have a clean drug test. They can then exchange this voucher for food, movie passes, and other sober goods and services. Effectively, they get paid to stay clean.

Prize incentives CMI programs use raffle tickets in place of vouchers. Each time a patient has another clean drug test, attends therapy, or completes a goal, another ticket is added to the drawing. Prizes are usually cash, and the longer a patient stays sober, the better their chance of winning.

Community Reinforcement Approach 

Community reinforcement approaches (CRA) focus on helping people suffering from addiction build a life that rewards them for staying sober. There are two primary goals in CRA programs. The first is for patients to stay sober long enough to learn new life skills, and the second is to reduce alcohol use in patients whose drinking is associated with cocaine or other drug use.

Patients in CRA programs attend one to two counseling sessions per week to learn to rebuild their family relationships. They also develop new social networks, practice sober recreational activities, and get vocational counseling. CRA may also be combined with VBR programs to reward patients for creating a sober life.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy 

Motivational enhancement therapy (MET) is designed less to treat addictions and more to motivate patients to get clean. MET is based on the idea that the first step in any change is the individual deciding that they want to change. This kind of motivation can then be used later in treatment when the going gets tough.

MET programs mainly focus on a motivational interviewing strategy that gives patients the drive to begin treatment. They may plan for recovery and cover some coping strategies for high-risk situations. As the patient moves into their treatment program, their MET counselor will check in and provide motivation and coping tools as needed.

The Matrix Model

The Matrix Treatment Model is specifically geared toward patients addicted to stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine. Matrix Model therapists focus on building solid and trusting relationships with their patients and reinforcing positive change through that relationship. They focus on building patient self-esteem, self-worth, and dignity.

The Matrix Model also focuses heavily on educating patients about addiction and relapse so they have the tools to handle their conditions. It also reaches out into other areas of the patient’s life, including family therapy, group therapy, and self-help programs. They may have a treatment manual that gives them detailed worksheets for each method.

Twelve-Step Therapy

Twelve-step programs are some of the best-known addiction treatment programs for good reasons. These programs focus on community and acceptance of responsibility to help participants build new, sober lives. And, as the name suggests, patients proceed through twelve steps of recovery to help them stick with the program.

There are a few ideas that dominate most twelve-step programs. First, the individual must accept that their problem has gotten out of control and that abstinence is their only choice. Then, they must surrender personal power to a higher power and the group’s support, and then agree to stay involved in the group.

Family Behavior Therapy

Frequently, addiction is intertwined with problems that occur within the patient’s family. The addiction could have started as a coping mechanism to deal with the domestic issues, or the problems may have started because of the addiction. In any case, family behavior therapy works alongside other treatment methods to repair the family unit.

Therapists teach families healthier behaviors to use at home with their loved ones and help them set goals for recovery. When they meet these goals, they get rewards from their family members, especially in the case of the patient suffering from substance use disorder. Patients can choose strategies that work best for their situation, collaborating among the therapist and the family.

Behavioral Therapy for Teens 

Unfortunately, not all individuals who struggle with substance use issues are adults. Teenagers have unique needs, especially when it comes to addiction treatment. Often, they aren’t in as much control of their lives, and since their brains aren’t fully developed, recovery can be more challenging for them.

Most therapy techniques aimed at teenagers focus on family efforts. Multi-systemic therapy deals with factors that cause teenagers to become antisocial. Multidimensional family therapy works to change family influences to prevent teenagers from substance abuse. Brief strategic family therapy focuses on specific family behaviors that can cause or exacerbate drug abuse.

Opioid Addiction Medications

In addition to the therapeutic techniques we’ve discussed, doctors can also use medications to help manage drug addiction. Most of these medications ease withdrawal symptoms, making them easier and safer for patients. In the case of opioid addiction, several medications can help recovering addicts.

Methadone prevents withdrawal symptoms and reduces drug cravings in individuals addicted to opioids. Interestingly, buprenorphine is an opioid, but it can help ease withdrawal symptoms and doesn’t pose a significant risk of an overdose. Naltrexone prevents opioids from binding to their receptors, preventing users’ effects from the drugs, both good and bad.

Tobacco Addiction Medications

One of the most popular forms of tobacco addiction treatment is nicotine replacement therapy. Nicotine sprays, patches, gums, and lozenges help users to step down their nicotine usage without the dangers of smoking or chewing.

Bupropion was initially designed as an antidepressant, but patients soon noticed an unexpected side effect: the medication can reduce cravings and help control some of the weight changes associated with quitting smoking.

Varenicline helps to reduce cravings and make nicotine use less rewarding. The medication binds with receptors and dulls the dopamine response from nicotine, which is largely what creates the addiction.

Alcohol Addiction Medications

Several medications can help control alcohol addictions. Naltrexone helps reduce cravings, and Disulfiram can lower the temptation to drink. The latter has some unpleasant effects when mixed with alcohol and can be helpful when individuals attempting to stay sober are in high-risk situations and need another reason to drink.

Acamprosate helps to reduce some of the longer-term effects of alcohol withdrawal. Topiramate can also help reduce cravings and make alcohol less rewarding when the patient drinks, thanks to the dampening effect it has on certain neurotransmitters. Of course, all of these medications are best used in combination with behavioral treatment since medication can’t treat the underlying causes of the addiction.

Learn More About Evidence-Based Addiction Treatment 

Addiction is a severe problem, but several evidence-based treatments can help recovering addicts build new lives. From behavioral therapies to family therapy to medication, patients can break their addictions and learn new coping mechanisms. And far from being based on sentiment or guesses, these techniques are backed by science and proven to work.

If you’d like to learn more about evidence-based addiction treatment, please contact us for a free consultation.