Sober Living: What it Takes to Heal from Addiction (Part Two)

Sober Living 101: What it Takes to Heal from Addiction (Part Two) |

In the first part of this series, the first six of 13 principles of effective addiction treatment was presented. They are principles researched and developed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The principles are listed in a guide and is available on NIDA’s website. Addiction can be effectively treated with behavioral based therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. However, treatment varies for each person, depending on the type of drug used, the length of addiction, the presence of psychological or physical illnesses, unresolved emotional concerns, and other circumstances. For this reason NIDA’s publication is a significant one, outlining the factors that can facilitate treatment regardless of the length and strength of an addiction.

In this two part series, the 13 principles of effective addiction treatment are provided. These are principles that have been researched and identified by NIDA, a nationally recognized organization researching the science behind drug abuse and the addiction cycle. The remaining seven of those principles are included below.

  1. Medication is an important element of treatment. In addition to therapy, recovering addicts can take medication that will help manage the burning need to continue to use the drug of their choice. These medications can help stabilize their lives and reduce the need to use.
  2. As treatment continues, a person’s needs and treatment plan must be continually assessed. In the beginning, there might be a variety of needs that treatment may not be able to tend to. However, as a person continues to detoxify physically and emotionally, his or her needs may change. Treatment should remain flexible in order to meet those needs as well as other needs that arise as treatment is ongoing.
  3. It’s common for those with addiction to also have a psychological illness. For this reason, they should be assessed for co-occurring disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. It’s hard to tell whether which came first, the addiction or the mental illness. Nonetheless, when this happens, addiction needs to address both the physical component to the addiction as well as the psychological. Many sober living facilities and treatment centers are beginning to include services that address the emotional and psychological sides to recovery.
  4. Detoxification with the use of medication alone is not adequate to treat the full scope of addiction. Medication is only the first stage of addiction, which only manages the acute physical symptoms of withdrawal. For this reason, teens need to expect and be encouraged to continue to participate in treatment long after detoxification has taken place.
  5. Treatment does not need to be voluntary to be effective. Even for those teens who are required to seek treatment by law and who don’t seek treatment by choice, research indicates that treatment for addiction in these cases are also effective.
  6. Because relapse can occur during treatment or even while in a sober living facility, teens must be closely monitored. In fact, knowing that treatment is being monitored can be a powerful way to prevent teens from submitting to the urges of their withdrawal process.
  7. Treatment programs need to test adolescents for the presence of infectious diseases. Often, sober living facilities and drug addiction rehab will both include programs that address some of the drug related problems that put teens at risk for infectious diseases. However, for a teen’s safety, it needs to be an essential element in any treatment plan or program.

As mentioned in the first part of this series, Sober Living 101: What it Takes to Heal from Addiction (Part One), these principles together are like a roadmap for what the healing process requires. Getting to know these principles and then comparing them to your unique needs, strengths, and weaknesses can be an enlightening process. And that comparison can be a foundation for the road ahead.


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