Luckily, things are beginning to change. Scientific research has expanded our understanding of addiction and begun to break through myths surrounding addictive behavior, while public awareness campaigns have disrupted deep-rooted stigma. At the same time, the opioid epidemic sweeping the US has had the unexpected effect of significantly changing the national conversation regarding drug addiction treatment and recently led to expanded availability of pharmacological treatment by almost tripling the number of buprenorphine prescriptions physicians are allowed to write, translating into prescriptions for 70,000 more people. Slowly but surely, people are becoming more aware of the failings of tough love addiction treatment and the need for effective, evidence-based alternatives that will address addiction as the illness that it is, not a choice, not a moral shortcoming, and not something that can be shamed out of you.
So what should you look for in addiction treatment for your loved one?
- On-Site Medically Supervised Detox: For many types of addiction, the recovery process begins with detoxification. Unfortunately, some treatment centers work under the assumption that the withdrawal process must be uncomfortable and traumatic to encourage sobriety. This, however, is false. A safe, comfortable withdrawal process supervised by highly trained detox specialists with the resources to minimize symptoms is the best way to begin the recovery journey.
- In-Depth Psychological Testing: Addiction is often deeply tied to mental illness, and that mental illness must be identified and treated alongside the addiction in order to break the cycle of emotional and behavioral dysfunction.
- On-site Medical Staff: Many assume that all addiction treatment programs are supervised by medical staff, but this is not the case. Selecting a treatment program with on-site psychiatrists specializing in addiction medicine is critical to ensuring that your loved one receives medically-guided care of the highest caliber, and that they will have access to any medications they may need, including relapse prevention medication and psychotropic therapies.
- A Comprehensive, Personalized Treatment Plan: Each person’s experience with addiction is different, and everyone has their own unique challenges and strengths. As such, your loved one’s treatment plan must be tailored to their individual needs in order to create meaningful pathways toward recovery. By offering an array of evidence-based individual and group therapies in addition to holistic and experiential therapies, your loved one will be able to engage in a truly transformative process of growth, healing, and self-discovery that minimizes the risk of relapse.
- Family Programming: Family support is known to be a critical element to the recovery process. If deemed appropriate, the treatment program you select should support and honor your role in your loved one’s recovery and offer you specialized resources to guide you on your own healing journey while nurturing your family bonds through education, empathy, and love.
All services should be delivered in a warm, inviting, and non-judgmental environment of inclusivity, where your loved one can feel safe and supported as they do the difficult work of recovery. Addiction medicine should always be practiced with compassion and kindness, never threats, humiliation, or rejection; your loved one should be welcomed into a positive recovery community where they can learn to honor, nourish, and accept themselves without the use of dangerous substances and without the desire to self-harm. That is what effective addiction treatment looks like.
“Here you’re just seen as a person who deserves to live, and you deserve a chance,” says Szalavitz. “And it’s that that gives people hope. And it’s that that shortens the period of addiction.”
Alta Mira offers a comprehensive suite of treatment programs for people struggling with drug addiction as well as co-occurring mental health disorders and process addictions. Contact us to learn more about our innovative services and how we can help you or your loved one start the journey toward lasting recovery.