Very simply, a treatment modality is a method used to treat a patient for a particular condition. Informally, you may hear patients and medical professionals alike use the term “approach” or “type” and other descriptions. Research studies on substance abuse treatment plans have usually classified programs into several types or modalities.
7 Common Substance Use Treatment Modalities
Most addiction treatment plans start with detoxification using a medically supervised withdrawal. This is typically considered the first stage of treatment. Detoxification is the process of your body clearing itself of drugs. Medical monitoring during detox is meant to manage the severe and possibly dangerous physical effects of stopping drug use.
However, detox alone does not address the psychological, social, and behavioral problems associated with addiction. This means that it typically does not produce the lasting behavioral changes that are necessary for long-term recovery. This means that detox should always be followed by other addiction treatment modalities.
- Psychotherapy (Talk Therapy)
Therapy can help people confront obstacles that interfere with emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being. The purpose of therapy is to:
- Explore beliefs, feelings, and behaviors
- Address challenging or upsetting memories and experiences
- Gain a better self-awareness and understanding
- Develop a plan to achieve these goals
Group therapy is the most widely used of the addiction treatment modalities. During group therapy, several individuals meet for 60-90 minutes with one or two therapists. Working with others in a group can:
- decrease a person’s sense of isolation,
- validate their experiences,
- help develop better interpersonal skills, and
- help learn new coping skills.
Group members can encourage each other by sharing their own experiences and foster hope for positive growth and change. Group members also hold each other accountable for their statements and actions.
During individual therapy sessions, the patient meets alone with the counselor. Many people are uncomfortable about sharing personal feelings and emotions with a stranger, but the therapist and patient work together to build trust between them and work together to solve the patient’s issues.
During therapy sessions, the individual may uncover an underlying mental condition that has gone undiagnosed and contributed to the substance abuse. This is a common occurrence in treating addiction. One drawback is that psychotherapy progresses slowly while behavioral therapies may produce results in a few sessions.
- Behavioral Modification Therapies
Behavioral modification is the process of replacing unhealthy habits with healthy ones. Over time people form strong neural pathways (pathways where information travels in your brain) associated with addictive behavior. And it takes time to undo that.
Behavioral therapy recognizes that and uses a structured approach to developing healthier new habits. The only drawback is that it doesn’t address underlying issues. This is why it is most effective when used alongside other therapeutic approaches.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is recognized as a valuable treatment tool because it can be used for treating many different types of addiction including:
- Prescription drugs
- Illicit (illegal) drugs
CBT not only helps you identify your unhealthy behavioral patterns, but it can help you learn your triggers and help you develop coping skills. It is also easily combined with other therapy techniques.
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)
REBT can help you recognize your negative thoughts and beliefs and help you find ways to fight the feelings of self-defeat. The goal is to help you realize that the power of rational thinking is within you. It is not related to outside situations or stressors.
Contingency management is used to treat a range of addictions including:
CM strengthens your positive behavior such as maintaining clean drug tests or attendance at group meetings by giving you real rewards. They could be vouchers for a healthy dinner at a local restaurant, a gym membership, etc. This type of treatment has been shown to be successful at combating relapse, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
- 12-Step Facilitation
Twelve-step facilitation therapy (12-step programs) is a treatment modality that can be used to treat alcohol and substance abuse. It is a type of group therapy that includes the realization that addiction has a number of negative consequences that can be social, emotional, spiritual, and physical. This type of therapy begins with acceptance, moves on to surrender to a higher power, transitions into regular involvement in group meetings.
12-step based recovery comes from the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous which was developed in the 1930s. The steps have been adapted over the years to address other drugs and addictions.
These programs are the most widespread form of addiction treatment modalities in the United States with a large, accessible network of meetings and free support. But the program hasn’t been changed notably or updated to acknowledge the major advancements in psychology and neuroscience related to addiction treatment.
Medication plays an important part in recovery when combined with behavioral therapies. It is especially helpful for people who need physical support to detox, but it doesn’t help with the emotional issues that drive addiction. Some medications can be used to:
- Decrease cravings
- Improve mood
- Decrease addictive behavior
Some examples are:
- lofexidine which is used to reduce cravings and ease withdrawal symptoms for opioid addiction and
- acamprosate which helps reduce drinking behavior, and
- methadone which helps with long-term opioid treatment.
- Holistic Treatment
The holistic treatment promotes addiction recovery by addressing the whole person–body, mind, and spirit. It introduces new solutions to old problems. The theory is that these parts are all interrelated and if one component is out of balance, it is all out of balance. Many substance abuse treatment programs offer holistic interventions that might include:
- Massage therapy
These days, we are learning more and more about the connections of mind and body. Usually, addiction is the consequence of underlying emotional and spiritual issues that have led to anxiety, depression, anger, and other issues. The technical term for this is dual diagnosis. Holistic approaches tend to get to the underlying causes and heal all the related aspects.
- Aversion Therapy
In aversion therapy, unpleasant associations to the patient’s drug of choice are created by causing sickness, electric shocks, or other unwanted experiences. This process can work if the addiction is purely physical. But it only gives short-term benefits when there are underlying emotional issues behind the addiction. If this approach is used alone, the individual will just switch addictions when the main cause is not addressed.
The Best Treatment Modality for Substance Abuse
It should have become clear that there is no single modality that can be successful on its own. Each method has its pros and cons and they all depend on and build upon, each other. Every individual suffering from substance use disorder is unique and needs a mix of modalities to suit their own needs and goals. To illustrate that fact, here is a list of principles for effective treatment:
What Are The Principles for Effective SUD Treatment?
Based on the scientific research since the mid-1970s, there are essential principles that should form the basis of any effective treatment program. They are:
- Addiction is a complex but treatable disease that affects behavior and brain function.
- No single treatment modality is right for everyone.
- Individuals need to have quick access to treatment.
- For a treatment to be effective, it needs to address all of the patient’s needs. Not just their drug use.
- It is critical to stay in treatment long enough.
- Counseling and behavioral therapies are the most common forms of treatment.
- Medications are often an important part of treatment–especially when used along with behavioral therapies.
- Treatment plans need to be evaluated often and changed to fit the patient’s needs.
- Treatment should look at other possible mental disorders.
- Medically assisted detox is only the first phase of treatment.
- Treatment doesn’t need to be voluntary to be effective.
- Drug use during treatment needs to be monitored continuously and cautiously.
- Treatment programs need to test patients for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases. Programs should also educate patients about steps they can take to reduce their risk for these illnesses.
How Many People Actually Get Treatment?
According to SAMHSA’s (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 22.5 million people aged 12 or older needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol use disorder in 2014. However, only 4.2 million received any treatment in the same year. And of those who got treatment, only 2.6 million received treatment at a specialty treatment program.
For a person struggling with substance or alcohol use disorder, a program that is equipped to treat their particular disorder is crucial. Different substances require different treatment plans and medical professionals who practice the principles of effective SUD treatment.
Where Can I Get Effective Treatment?
If you or someone close to you is suffering from substance abuse, you need to get treatment now. Harmony Ridge can be found in beautiful Southern California. We offer various addiction treatment modalities with addiction specialists who are licensed and experienced in clinical practice.
At Harmony Ridge, we don’t leave anything to chance. You or your loved one will be cared for while they focus on recovery every step of the way. We offer several levels of care, from detox and residential (inpatient) to outpatient programs. This means that you will enter at the appropriate level and leave when you are ready to face the world on your own. All you have to do is contact us now. Our admissions specialists are available to talk to you and answer your questions.