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Seeking Drug Abuse Treatment: Know What To Ask

1. Does the program use treatments backed by scientific evidence?

Effective drug abuse treatments can include behavioral therapy, medications, or, ideally, their combination.

Behavioral therapies vary in focus and may involve:

  • addressing a patient's motivation to change;
  • providing incentives to stop taking drugs;
  • building skills to resist drug use;
  • replacing drug-using activities with constructive and rewarding activities;
  • improving problem-solving skills; and
  • building better personal relationships.
Examples of Behavioral Therapies Therapist speaking with a patient
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Seeks to help patients recognize, avoid, and cope with the situations in which they are most likely to abuse drugs.
  • Motivational Incentives. Uses positive reinforcement such as providing rewards or privileges for remaining drug free, for participating in counseling sessions, or for taking treatment medications as prescribed.
  • Motivational Interviewing. Uses strategies to encourage rapid and self-driven behavior change to stop drug use and help a patient enter treatment.
  • Group Therapy. Helps patients face their drug abuse realistically, come to terms with its harmful consequences, and boost their motivation to stay drug free. Patients learn how to resolve their emotional and personal problems without abusing drugs.

Medications are an important part of treatment for many patients, especially when combined with counseling and other behavioral therapies. Different types of medications may be useful at different stages of treatment: to stop drug abuse, to stay in treatment, and to avoid relapse.

This page was last updated June 2013

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