Trying to identify the right treatment programs for a loved one can be a difficult process. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recommends asking the following questions when searching for a treatment program:

Does the program use treatments backed by scientific evidence?

Effective drug abuse treatments can include behavioral therapy, medications, or, ideally, their combination. Examples of evidence-supported behavioral therapies are cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational incentives, and motivational interviewing. Medications are an important part of treatment for many patients, especially when combined with behavioral therapies.

Does the program tailor treatment to the needs of each patient?

No single treatment is right for everyone. The best treatment addresses a person’s various needs, not just his or her drug use. For example, a patient may require other medical services, family therapy, parenting support, job training, and social and legal services. Because substance use disorders and other mental disorders often occur together, a person with one of these conditions should be assessed for the other. And when these problems co-occur, treatment should address both(or all conditions).

Does the program adapt treatment as the patient’s needs change?

Individual treatment and service plans must be assessed and modified as needed to meet changing needs. For most people, a continuing care approach provides the best results, with treatment level adapted to a person’s changing needs.

Is the duration of treatment sufficient?

Research tells us that most addicted people need at least three months in treatment to really reduce or stop their drug use and that longer treatment times result in better outcomes. The best programs will measure progress and suggest plans for
maintaining recovery.

How do 12-step or similar recovery programs fit into drug addiction treatment?

Although they are not professional treatment, self-help groups can complement and extend the effects of professional treatment.

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