• Maintenance Therapy: Longer is Better
    Addiction Treatment (Drugs and Alcohol)

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    Maintenance Therapy: Longer is Better

    For decades, the predominant theory of substance abuse treatment and counseling has been focused on short-term residential treatment programs. It has been a long held belief that self-destructive habits of drug and alcohol addiction could be subdued with this type of rehabilitation.

    Regretfully, an eight-year study of more than a thousand addicts found that “only about a third of people who are abstinent less than a year will remain abstinent.” The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) also confirms that “the relapse rate for drug addiction is [up to] 60 percent” and strongly urge a new perspective on addiction treatment.

    NIDA promotes the concept that addiction experts stop and consider the need for lengthier, professional intervention and care. Its website states, “Remaining in treatment for an adequate period of time is critical … Most patients require long-term or repeated episodes of care to achieve the ultimate goal of sustained abstinence and recovery of their lives.” This perspective sheds a new light on effective drug abuse treatment and is beginning to gain backing from experts in this field.

    Current research now lends itself to a belief that addiction, like any chronic disease, requires lifelong treatment with counseling and/or maintenance therapy. In addition, substantial evidence points to the fact that constant, ongoing therapy should be standard treatment for drug abuse treatment.

    For many, this direction of continuous or lifelong counseling sessions is no surprise. In fact, it appears to be common sense in the minds of numerous addiction specialists. Outpatient and residential treatment programs offer a focused, powerful and often effective plan for concentrating on the detoxification and awareness process of the addiction. When it comes to the root causes and events that led to the addiction, however, each situation frequently require in-depth analysis.

    What takes places after the drug abuser leaves the facility is just as important. Studies currently being evaluated suggest that positive outcomes are contingent on adequate treatment length. No matter how successful the individual has been during their stay in their treatment facility, at some point, the addict returns to a life of stress, temptations, celebrations, drug-using friends and other “real life” encounters. Without a structured program in place, this “old” environment” may trigger relapse. A trustworthy setting to explore how to deal with these daily cravings and urges is essential, and even mandatory, for long-term success.

    Far too many addicts continue to need services after rehab and this is especially true for people with opioid addiction. Specifically for opioid drug abusers, maintenance therapy in the form of methadone or other drugs continues for several years. Experts point out that the success rate will increase if these individuals also continue some form of counseling simultaneously.

    A comprehensive plan that involves regular counseling sessions, including family members absolutely increases the opportunities for long-term success. NIDA notes that, “Recovery from drug addiction is a long-term process … [the] plan must be assessed continually and modified as necessary to ensure that it meets his or her changing needs.”

    Audrey Beim holds two advanced degrees from major universities, including a Master’s Degree in Psychology. She has over 20 years of experience in the health, wellness, nutritional and fitness categories and has used her expertise to write articles for media outlets such as Linfield Media and Examiner.com.


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