For all of the discussion around drug addiction and treatment, sometimes it can be confusing to understand the various approaches to substance abuse or addiction treatment.

For more on drug addiction treatment approaches, see:

An initial and important question, whether one considers a Utah addiction center or elsewhere: What is drug addiction treatment?

The U.S. National Institutes of Health writes: “Drug treatment is intended to help addicted individuals stop compulsive drug seeking and use. Treatment can occur in a variety of settings, take many different forms, and last for different lengths of time. Because drug addiction is typically a chronic disorder characterized by occasional relapses, a short-term, one-time treatment is usually not sufficient. For many, treatment is a long-term process that involves multiple interventions and regular monitoring.”

Further, “there are a variety of evidence-based approaches to treating addiction. Drug treatment can include behavioral therapy (such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or contingency management), medications, or their combination. The specific type of treatment or combination of treatments will vary depending on the patient’s individual needs and, often, on the types of drugs they use.”

The NIH offers DrugFacts, a fact sheet that provides useful information for drug rehab in Utah — as well as non 12-step rehab programs — or elsewhere. It helps to start with a definition of drug addiction:

“Drug addiction is a chronic disease characterized by compulsive, or uncontrollable, drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences and changes in the brain, which can be long lasting. These changes in the brain can lead to the harmful behaviors seen in people who use drugs. Drug addiction is also a relapsing disease. Relapse is the return to drug use after an attempt to stop.”

Drug Addiction: Disease of Brain & Behavior

The NIH continues: “The path to drug addiction begins with the voluntary act of taking drugs. But over time, a person’s ability to choose not to do so becomes compromised. Seeking and taking the drug becomes compulsive. This is mostly due to the effects of long-term drug exposure on brain function. Addiction affects parts of the brain involved in reward and motivation, learning and memory, and control over behavior. Addiction is a disease that affects both the brain and behavior.”

Drug Addiction Treatments

What are the treatments for drug addiction? Options outlined by the NIH include:

  • behavioral counseling
  • medication
  • medical devices and applications used to treat withdrawal symptoms or deliver skills training
  • evaluation and treatment for co-occurring mental health issues such as depression and anxiety
  • long-term follow-up to prevent relapse

The agency adds: “A range of care with a tailored treatment program and follow-up options can be crucial to success. Treatment should include both medical and mental health services as needed. Follow-up care may include community- or family-based recovery support systems.”

For more, see: Mental Illness and Drug Addiction: Guide to Dual Diagnosis Treatment Programs

Effective Treatment Options: Principles

drug addiction treatmentsThe NIH outlines the principles around effective treatment, based on “scientific research since the mid-1970s.” These include:

  • Addiction is a complex but treatable disease that affects brain function and behavior.
  • No single treatment is right for everyone.
  • People need to have quick access to treatment.
  • Effective treatment addresses all of the patient’s needs, not just his or her drug use.
  • Staying in treatment long enough is critical.
  • Counseling and other behavioral therapies are the most commonly used forms of treatment.
  • Medications are often an important part of treatment, especially when combined with behavioral therapies.
  • Treatment plans must be reviewed often and modified to fit the patient’s changing needs.
  • Treatment should address other possible mental disorders.
  • Medically assisted detoxification is only the first stage of treatment.
  • Treatment doesn’t need to be voluntary to be effective.
  • Drug use during treatment must be monitored continuously.
  • Treatment programs should test patients for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases as well as teach them about steps they can take to reduce their risk of these illnesses.

For more on these principles, see “PRINCIPLES OF DRUG ADDICTION TREATMENT: A RESEARCH-BASED GUIDE,” which notes: “Three decades of scientific research and clinical practice have yielded a variety of effective approaches to drug addiction treatment. Extensive data document that drug addiction treatment is as effective as are treatments for most other similarly chronic medical conditions. In spite of scientific evidence that establishes the effectiveness of drug abuse treatment, many people believe that treatment is ineffective. In part, this is because of unrealistic expectations. Many people equate addiction with simply using drugs and therefore expect that addiction should be cured quickly, and if it is not, treatment is a failure. In reality, because addiction is a chronic disorder, the ultimate goal of long-term abstinence often requires sustained and repeated treatment episodes.”

Drug Use and Health: More on Drug Addiction Treatment

For additional insights, the NIH addresses the question: “How effective is drug addiction treatment?” It writes: “In addition to stopping drug abuse, the goal of treatment is to return people to productive functioning in the family, workplace, and community. According to research that tracks individuals in treatment over extended periods, most people who get into and remain in treatment stop using drugs, decrease their criminal activity, and improve their occupational, social, and psychological functioning. For example, methadone treatment has been shown to increase participation in behavioral therapy and decrease both drug use and criminal behavior.”

But a note: “However, individual treatment outcomes depend on the extent and nature of the patient’s problems, the appropriateness of treatment and related services used to address those problems, and the quality of interaction between the patient and his or her treatment providers.”

For more science-based writing, the publication “Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics” last year published “The President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis: Origins and Recommendations.”

It states: “The United States has the ignominious distinction of leading the world in opioid prescribing and in opioid‐related overdose deaths. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that over 40,000 people died of an opioid‐related overdose, with fentanyl‐related deaths exceeding those of heroin or prescription opioids. Opioid overdoses are now the leading cause of unintentional deaths in the US and of declining lifespan expectancies. With a worsening crisis, agencies of the US government and others produced an array of reports on the opioid crisis. Yet the death rate escalated further from 2010 to the present.”

Further, a new book titled “The Assessment and Treatment of Addiction” addresses another area: “Technological Innovations in Addiction Treatment.” The authors write: “Myriads of innovative applications of digital technology are now permeating the world of health care with the goals of improving health, extending the reach of care, and reducing the cost of providing care. The field of addiction science has engaged fully in this exciting period of evolution in the way health and health care can be enhanced via technological innovations. This chapter provides an overview of the potential benefits of digital technology for substance use disorder (SUD) care, not only for the individual, but from the provider perspective as well.”

Segments of this post appeared on DrugAbuse.gov.

According to a 2009 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) study, there were 4.6 million drug-related 24-hour emergency department (ED) visits in 2009.  According to the study, “Almost 50 percent were attributed to adverse reactions to pharmaceuticals taken as prescribed, and 45 percent involved drug abuse.” What’s more alarming is the fact that from 2004 to 2009, drug-related ED visits increased 81 percent, from 2.5 million to 4.6 million visits!

The DAWN estimated that of the 2.1 million drug abuse visits—

  • 27.1 percent involved nonmedical use of pharmaceuticals (i.e., prescription or OTC medications, dietary supplements).
  • 21.2 percent involved illicit drugs.
  • 14.3 percent involved alcohol, in combination with other drugs.

Information courtesy of DrugAbuse.gov

It should also be noted that “in 2009, almost one million visits involved an illicit drug, either alone or in combination with other types of drugs.”

DAWN estimated that—

  • cocaine was involved in 422,896 ED visits.
  • marijuana was involved in 376,467 ED visits.
  • heroin was involved in 213,118 ED visits.
  • stimulants, including amphetamines and methamphetamine, were involved in 93,562 ED visits.
  • other illicit drugs—such as PCP, ecstasy, and GHB—were involved much less frequently than any of the drug types mentioned above.

Information courtesy of DrugAbuse.gov

Finally, the 2009 DAWN study “estimated 519,650 ED visits related to the use of alcohol in combination with other drugs. Alcohol was most frequently combined with—

  • central nervous system agents (e.g., analgesics, stimulants, sedatives) (229,230 visits).
  • cocaine (152,631 visits).
  • marijuana (125,438 visits).
  • psychotherapeutic agents (e.g., antidepressants and antipsychotics) (44,217 visits)
  • heroin (43,110 visits).

Information courtesy of DrugAbuse.gov

Here is a follow-up to one of our previous posts about prescription drug abuse.  The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently published some very informative infographics about prescription drug abuse by state, where people generally find prescription drugs (here’s a hint-it’s generally in the home of someone you know, most likely a family member!), and other statistics.

Drug Overdose Rates

Here is an alarming image showing drug overdose rates by state.  According to information compiled in 2008, Utah has one of the highest overdose rates in the country!

Image courtesy of the CDC.


Common Sources for Prescription Drug Abuse

According to the CDC, prescription drugs are generally acquired by:

  • 55% of people obtained them free from a friend or relative
  • 17.3% are prescribed them by a doctor
  • 11.4% bought them from a friend or relative
  • 4.8% took them from a friend or relative without asking

There is a trend here.  A majority of people acquire prescription drugs from a friend or relative!  To help stop this epidemic, prescription drugs should be properly disposed of when treatment is completed.  If continued use of prescription medication is needed, proper care should be taken to ensure that you, or a loved one aren’t abusing.

Statistics Associated with Prescription Drug Abuse

Finally, we wanted to add this infographic on other risks associated with prescription drug abuse.

Image courtesy of the CDC.

As always, it’s never too late to seek help.  If you or someone you know is abusing prescription paid medication, we urge you to seek treatment at a certified Utah rehab center.

People sometimes ask us what makes Turning Point Centers different from other drug and alcohol addiction treatment facilities.  Yes, we’re a dual-diagnosis treatment facility.  Yes, we’re a licensed vivitrol injection facility.  But, that’s not what sets us apart. What does set us apart is the fact that many on our staff previously suffered from drug and alcohol addiction and were treated at Turning Point Centers.  But what’s most important is that they believed in the Turning Point Centers treatment process so much, that they stayed on to help others make conquer their addictions and destructive behaviors. Click here to see some of our staff members tell their stories about recovering from addiction.

The Center for Disease control today released new findings on prescription drug overdoses.  According to the latest findings, prescription drug abuse has skyrocketed in the past decade.  Some of the other stats include:

  • Prescription painkiller overdoses killed nearly 15,000 people in the US in 2008. This is more than 3 times the 4,000 people killed by these drugs in 1999.
  • In 2010, about 12 million Americans (age 12 or older) reported nonmedical use of prescription painkillers in the past year.
  • Nearly half a million emergency department visits in 2009 were due to people misusing or abusing prescription painkillers.
  • Nonmedical use of prescription painkillers costs health insurers up to $72.5 billion annually in direct health care costs.

The entire article can be read here.  Information courtesy of the Center for Disease Control.

We are very excited about our new drug and alcohol treatment center.  It’s a much larger facility with an indoor racquetball court, barn on site (great for equine therapy) and sits on 5 1/2 acres!  Plenty of room to grow.  Our program and philosophy will stay the same we will just have more opportunities to give to our clients in terms of comfort and recreation.  Can’t wait!  Our goal is to open August 16th, which is the exact date 4 years ago that we opened…crazy how things work out!

After 2 + years of working on trying to get on the show “Intervention” on A&E it finally happened!  They were here yesterday and filmed the outside of our drug and alcohol treatment center.  Today, after a successful intervention last night with a 35 year old man dependent on alcohol, they’re back and filming our Clinical Director for the interview and some of the inside.  We’re all very excited and honored to be a part of such a great show.  What I love about the show is that it is bringing addiction out of the closet to the masses.  Thanks A&E for the opportunity!  Can’t wait to see the show air.

The following numbers are nasty!  An area of concern is the nonmedical use of prescription drugs.  Among 12th-graders, 8 of the 13 most commonly abused drugs (other than cigarettes and alcohol) were prescription medications, over half of which were given to them or were purchased from a friend or family member!  According to the 2009 MFT survey, past-year non-medical use of Oxycontin increased during the last 5 years among 10th graders and remained unchanged, still scary, among 8th graders and 12th graders.  Nearly 1 in 20 high school students report abusing Oxycontin.  Since 2008, according to NSDUH, the number of students who abused prescription pain relievers for the first time (2.2 million in 2009) was roughly even with that of marijuana.

Oxycontin abuse often leads to heroin addiction, so be careful, talk with your kids about drug and alcohol addiction and watch them.  Know their friends!  If you see any drastic changes, remember what your parents used to always say and start watching out.  If you or a loved one starts to struggle, change friends, show changes in personality and activities check into it quickly.  If the signs point to addiction get help immediately.

Finally, after all these years, we’re moving forward with a “monitoring” program.  By the end of June we’re going to have our sober transitions program.  It’s going to be a great way to transition out of our intensive outpatient program into the “real world.”  With our core beliefs and the communication and counseling with the client for a full year the odds of the clients staying sober go through the roof…can’t wait to see this program take off!

I’ve had a lot of conversations lately about if a family member who is “forced” into drug and alcohol treatment will do anything.  Clients often ask if they should wait until he/she “wants” treatment.  One of my staff gave me some information located on NIDA’s site that goes along with what I believe and have always felt!  YES…interventions work and those clients do just as well as the “voluntary” clients.  If the families understood that very often the client won’t and can’t make the decision to go to treatment until something (as if addiction isn’t bad enough) “BAD” happens (loss of job, arrest, loss of family etc.) they  would all do interventions to help their loved one get in.  So this is what the statement was from www.drugabuse.gov.  It says “Effective treatment need not be voluntary and that treatment outcomes are similar for those who enter treatment under pressure vs. voluntary.”  My advice to anyone reading this is don’t wait until it’s too late!

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