Effective drug treatment principles

Drug treatment is a complex process since every individual is different, and the approach to treat the addiction will have to be tailored to every specific case. Still, there are some basic principles that every treatment should feature in order to be effective. These include the following:

- Drug addiction is a disease that affects brain function and behavior, and no single drug rehabilitation program is appropiate for every patient. Drug treatment needs to be matched to the individual's specific needs.

- Treatment must be available at any given time. Individuals are often reluctant to enter drug rehab, and when they finally decide to do so the small window of opportunity must be seized without delay.

- Rehab programs should address not only the abuse problem itself, but also the underlying reasons that may be causing it.

- The patient must remain in treatment for the period of time indicated by the doctor. Leaving prematurely increases the probability of relapsing.

- Detox is only the first step towards drug recovery and is futile if no other measures are taken for the long term. By itself, medically assisted detoxification is only effective in treating acute physical symptoms of withdrawal.

- Medication is an important element within the drug treatment framework, but so are counseling and behavioral therapies. In fact, becoming part of a support group is key to maintain abstinence.

- Physicians must recognize that many individuals struggling with addiction also have other mental disorders. If this is the case, these these issues must be addressed as well.

- Ideally the patient should enter treatment voluntarily, but non-voluntary approaches can be effective as well.

- Relapses are common to occur, thus drug use must be closely monitored. This allows for treatment adjustments in case that relapse is detected.

- Effective drug treatment can only be obtained if the treatment plan must be assessed regularly and modified as needed.

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