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Drug and Alcohol Rehab

It is estimated that nearly twenty-two million Americans struggle with addiction to alcohol and illegal drugs. Addiction is a disease which should be treated by medical professionals who understand the physiology of the body. Drug and alcohol rehab is a proven, effective way to deal with addiction. It can destroy the lives of so many and not just the user. The friends and family of addicts suffer as much as the person with the addiction. When the begging, pleading and interventions aren't enough, there are other treatments available. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) suggests treatments that address the many needs of the patient and not just the detoxification. They recommend the detoxification be followed by behavioral therapy, medicine and relapse prevention. Whatever your addiction is to alcohol, marijuana or one of the harder drugs such as cocaine heroin or crystal meth, a strong rehabilitation program with a reliable source of support for the patient can be an effective treatment for this disease. There are several different options available when someone is seeking treatment for alcohol and drug addiction. Some people may prefer one method to another and some methods may fit into a person's schedule better than another.

Residential Treatment

Residential treatment is one of the most effective because the patient lives in a facility for a predetermined amount of time. In this time, the patient works closely with either a counselor or other medical professionals to help them as they detox and learn to live a life free of drugs and alcohol. The rehab center provides the room and board for the patient so they don't have to worry about trying to keep a job while addressing their addiction. In an environment free from negative influences such as drug abusing peers many patients have managed to defeat their addiction. Residential treatment offers the patient a strong support structure composed of medical professionals and other recovering addicts. Most residential treatment centers require the patient to attend classes that will help them cope with life without drugs. These classes may consist of group therapy where several patients and medical professionals meet in and discuss the things that lead to the addiction and ways to prevent relapsing. Residential treatment may also utilize drugs such as methadone to treat heroin and other opiate addiction. The price of residential rehab depends on the length of the stay and this can vary depending on which drugs the patient abused. The average cost of non-hospital, residential rehabilitation is $76 per day. A recent study done by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), says that for every dollar spent on rehab, three dollars were saved in other fees that stem from addiction such as legal fees and the price of the drugs themselves. Opiate addiction maybe more expensive because of the price of methadone. Most residential rehabilitation centers require a stay of four to six weeks where the patient can detoxify in a clean environment free of drugs and alcohol. Without the influence of trouble drug users, the patient's chances for success may be greater. Residential rehab can cost upwards of $30,000 for the entire stay. Thirty years ago, private insurance companies paid for the majority as opposed to today where government funded programs such as medicare and other state benefits pay for the majority. Residential treatment is available, long or short term depending on the severity of the addiction.

Outpatient Treatment

This option is typically for those with less severe forms of addiction. It is not typically recommended for opiate addiction. With outpatient treatment, the addict goes to a facility and receives treatment for their addiction. Afterwards they return to their home. This form of treatment requires a lot of willpower and family support because the patient is still able to go out and acquire the drug to which they are addicted and if alcohol is the drug of choice it may already be in the home. Outpatient treatment is substantially less expensive than residential treatment because there is not cost of room and bored. Outpatient treatment average is about $26 per day but will of course vary from clinic to clinic. The patient receives similar treatment to the residential patient but in a more moderate amount. There is even outpatient methadone treatments available. Some of the more long term programs average about seventeen dollars a day but typically do not include the psychological counseling to help the addict deal with a life without drugs so a strong structure of friends and family support maybe the real key to having success with outpatient treatment. The greatest benefit of outpatient treatment is that it doesn't interrupt the patient's life . They may treat their addiction while continuing to work, attend school and raise their family. Outpatient treatment is available for a few weeks or a long term if need be depending on the severity of the addiction.

Long Term Treatment

Long term rehab centers offer basically the same amenities as a short term centers but for a longer stay. According to the US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) a patient needs at least 90 days or even longer do fully recover and adjust to their new life. These centers maybe more effective because they give the patient more time away from outside influences and triggers which may have led them to abuse drugs anyway. For someone who has abused heavy drugs such as heroin and cocaine for many years, the four weeks in a short term facility may not be sufficient. These candidates are ideal for long term rehab centers where they can take the proper amount of time to relearn how to live life without depending on alcohol or illegal drugs.

Pharmacological Treatment

This form of treatment involves the use of medicine to counteract the long term physiological effects the illegal drugs have had on the patient's body. In many cases of opiates, the body becomes dependent on having the drug in the system and may not function without it. Methadone can be introduced to allow the body to function while still weening the patient off the illegal drugs. Some opiate addicts are so dependent upon their drugs that even when they are incarcerated, they have to be given something to help them with their addiction. Opiate withdrawal can be extremely uncomfortable and accompanied by nausea, vomiting and fever so methadone can be helpful to anyone trying to deal with heroin addiction. Patients who need treatment for addiction to alcohol may be given Naltrexone. This opioid receptor antagonist is also effective in treating opioid addiction. Naltrexone shouldn't be confused with Naloxone which is a drug used to treat an emergency overdose of opioids. Yet another effective treatment for chronic alcoholism is Disulfiram. This drug was discovered in the 1920s and works by reducing the patient's sensitivity to alcohol. It stops the body from processing alcohol by inhibiting Acetaldehyde Dehydrogenase which convert alcohol into a citric acid. This causes the alcohol to pass through the body in its ethyl form, making the patient sick. This unpleasant experience should help to wean the patient off of the alcohol. Disulfiram also prevents the breakdown of dopamine which is why it is being studied as a viable treatment for cocaine dependence. The medicine was discovered in 1948 by accident. It was initially invented to treat parasitic infestation. Another drugs used to treat opioid addiction is the semi synthetic Buprenorphine. It was first marketed in the eighties as an analgesic which is another term for pain killer. In 2002, it was approved by the FDA for replacement therapy in opioid addiction, this is now the drug's primary purpose. Pharmacological treatment is typically just one aspect or drug and alcohol rehab and should be combined with psychological and emotional support to help the patient adjust to a new life where alcohol and illegal drugs are no longer at the center. Unfortunately, these drugs are very expensive and some insurance companies may not cover them. The price can vary but since most of these medicines are derived from opium, they are extremely expensive to manufacture and therefore they have a hefty price tag.

Twelve Step Programs

Twelve step programs rely extremely heavily on the positive support structure to help the patient beat their addiction. Most twelve step programs have regular meetings and most actually meet daily. The members with the most tenure help to counsel the new members not with a degree or book, but by life experience itself. Most twelve step programs require a new member to find an older member as a sponsor who will help and encourage the new member as they deal with their addiction. The original twelve step program, Alcoholics Anonymous, actually hold this premise as the key to their success. They believe that is the selfless act of helping another addict that helps them to stay clean. Others twelve step programs consist of Al Anon Alateen which is a twelve step program for young adults and teenagers and Narcotics Anonymous which is very similar to Alcoholics Anonymous with the exception of specializing in people addicted to illegal drugs. Meaning Twelve step programs have succeeded without the use of some of modern technology's greatest weapons in the fight against addiction. They simply rely on a strong front of individuals who will support and encourage the patient as they deal with this difficult transition. They may receive unexpected phone calls and even unexpected visits from their sponsor or their grand sponsor who is the person sponsoring their sponsor. A member of a twelve step program always has a shoulder to lean on and someone they can call when they feel weak. Even still, it would be best to combine this form of rehabilitation with some sort of medical assistance especially in the case of people addicted to opioids. It may require more willpower to remain in a twelve step program than it does to attend a residential drug rehabilitation program because you are free to leave every day and every day the patient must fight the temptation to go and use their drugs or even be around old friends. A treatment using a twelve step program typically lasts a lifetime.


With so many available treatment options to choose from, fighting addiction may seem easier than it actually is. Battling drug dependence is an up hill fight, one which a lot of people lose. The sheer difficulty of completing this task may be the reason for the plethora of methods to treat it. Meaning these methods were conceived out of trial and error after years of being unsuccessful until a winning formula with discovered. Addiction remains one of the most misunderstood diseases of our time, and make no mistake about it, addiction is a disease. The sooner the mainstream realizes this, the more effectively we will be able to treat the people who suffer from this affliction. Many addicts now sit in jail cells where they can't receive the treatment they need. The only solution for drug addiction is rehab of some kind.