Home » The Disease of Addiction and SUD Treatment Program Principles

Millions of Americans suffer from addiction. Yet, many people are unaware that addiction, as a mental health condition, is a disease. One of the best methods for treating this disease is through a well-organized treatment program. There are many therapies and treatment plans, however successful SUD treatment programs follow some basic industry principles.

Data shows that substance abuse is a problem in the United States. As of 2018, almost 12 percent of the US population (over age 12) were currently using illegal drugs. In the same year, roughly 53 million people were using illegal substances or misusing prescription drugs, with over 20 million people having a substance abuse disorder.

Addiction is a Disease:

In the past, some people viewed conditions like drug or alcohol addiction as a character failing. The stigma of addiction created a perception that individuals with substance use disorders were mentally weak or immoral. These created a sense of shame for individuals who struggled with the disease.

The occurrence of addiction is sometimes made worse due to the comorbidity of other mental health conditions. Sometimes when people are struggling with health issues like anxiety disorders or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), they may try and treat themselves. Essentially, people are attempting to self-medicate their behavioral health condition.

People struggle with addictive substances due to their inability to stop using drugs or alcohol. Researchers believe that this is due to deficits in a person’s prefrontal cortex. This part of the human brain is important for such behaviors as delayed gratification and self-regulation.

Some addictive substances trick the brain to become accustomed to the substances. A craving for the substance is created when it is not present in the brain’s chemicals. Basically, these neurotransmitters created from extended drug use, make it difficult for the people to respond to positive stimuli or pleasure.

A major goal of addiction treatment programs is to stabilize and control these cravings. These programs are helped by the use of medications like suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone) film,which reduces an individual’s desire for opioids. Due to this fact, these kind of medications are often in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) programs.

By understanding that the abuse of substances like drugs and alcohol is a specific type of brain dysfunction; is starting to reduce the stigma. There are now many types of effective interventions and treatment options for people with addiction.

Basic Treatment Principles:

Addiction and substance use disorders are complex health issues. Not all people are affected that same way by this disorder. However, for people who need intervention and focused treatments, here are some of the more common principles for a successful recovery.

Some core principles of any effective treatment program:

  • Substance use disorder (addiction) is a complex but treatable behavioral health condition.
  • Detoxification is one of the first priorities of addiction treatment, however it is insufficient by itself. Additional therapy and supports are needed.
  • A mixture of behavioral health therapies (individual, family, or group counseling) are beneficial for treating drug abuse.
  • The administration of medication by an experienced psychiatrist is helpful for overcoming addition.
  • The treatments need to be tailored for the needs of the individual.
  • People with SUD may suffer from other mental health conditions (co-occurring mental illnesses).
  • An individual’s treatment plan needs to be monitored and updated on a regular basis.

Substance use disorder is a chronic illness. People with SUD may experience a successful recovery, only to later relapse. This high risk for relapse means that individuals will likely need some type of maintenance therapy in order to stay addiction free. Maintenance therapy plans may include counseling and medication.

In the end, an experienced behavioral health professional can put together a plan that is individually crafted to meet the needs of an individual who is struggling with addiction. Trained mental health clinicians understand that addiction is a complex disease that creates both physical and psychological dependence issues.

Illnesses like addiction inflict millions of Americans. Mental health providers need to address people’s symptoms as well as the underlying disease of addiction.

Our Psychiatry Practice:

Emerald Psychiatry & TMS Center is a psychiatric practice located in Dublin, Ohio. They provide treatments for many mental health conditions, including substance abuse disorder. For more information about our services and treatment options, email or call them at (614) 580-6917.

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Contributor: ABCS RCM