Treatment Approaches

Advancing Addiction Science: NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse

NOTE: This fact sheet discusses research findings on effective treatment approaches for drug abuse and addiction. If you’re seeking treatment, you can call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (1-800-662-4357) or go to for information on hotlines, counseling services, or treatment options in your state.

What is 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.

Can drug addiction be treated?

Yes, but it’s not simple. Because addiction is a chronic disease, people can’t simply stop using drugs for a few days and be cured. Most patients need long-term or repeated care to stop using completely and recover their lives.

Addiction treatment must help the person do the following:

  • stop using drugs
  • stay drug-free
  • be productive in the family, at work, and in society

Principles of Effective Treatment

Based on scientific research since the mid-1970s, the following key principles should form the basis of any effective treatment program:

  • 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.

How is drug addiction treated?

Graphic of components of comprehensive drug addiction treatment with an out and inner circle. The outer circle lists vocational services, mental health services, medical services, educational services, HIV/AIDS services, legal services, and family services. The inner circle lists assessment, evidence-based treatment, substance use monitoring, clinical and case management, recovery support programs, and continuing care. The caption is the best treatment programs provide a combination of therapies and other sSuccessful treatment has several steps:

  • detoxification (the process by which the body rids itself of a drug)
  • behavioral counseling
  • medication (for opioid, tobacco, or alcohol addiction)
  • evaluation and treatment for co-occurring mental health issues such as depression and anxiety
  • long-term follow-up to prevent relapse

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.

Is treatment different for criminal justice populations?

Scientific research since the mid-1970s shows that drug abuse treatment can help many drug-using offenders change their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors towards drug abuse; avoid relapse; and successfully remove themselves from a life of substance abuse and crime. Many of the principles of treating drug addiction are similar for people within the criminal justice system as for those in the general population. However, many offenders don’t have access to the types of services they need. Treatment that is of poor quality or is not well suited to the needs of offenders may not be effective at reducing drug use and criminal behavior.

Learn More

For more information about drug addiction treatment, visit:

For information about drug addiction treatment in the criminal justice system, visit:

For step-by-step guides for people who think they or a loved one may need treatment, visit:

For more information about treatment options for different types of addictions, visit:


Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality (CBSHQ). 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables.Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; 2015.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (N-SSATS): 2013. Data on Substance Abuse Treatment Facilities. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; 2014. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 14-489. BHSIS Series S-73.

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

If you’re seeking treatment, you can call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (1-800-662-4357) or go to for information on hotlines, counseling services, or treatment options in your state. is a web resource provided and funded by Advanced Recovery Systems (ARS). ARS is an integrated behavioral health care management organization dedicated to the treatment of addiction, substance abuse, eating disorders and mental health issues. We provide well-researched, fact-based resources on this site.

Alcoholics Anonymous is an international fellowship of men and women who have had a drinking problem. It is nonprofessional, self-supporting, multiracial, apolitical, and available almost everywhere. There are no age or education requirements. Membership is open to anyone who wants to do something about his or her drinking problem.

Substance use disorders have a greater effect on LGBTQ+ people than on the heterosexual population. The LGBTQ+ community must overcome several obstacles, including being denied substance abuse treatment because of their sexual identity. However, through the proper understanding and accommodation of LGBTQ+ care principles, substance abuse treatment can be successful.

The Huron Valley Area Intergroup’s primary purpose is to carry the AA message through the HelpLine, Committee Action & AA literature. We wish to thank the local AA groups and those individual AA members who support us.

For more resources:

Local Al-Anon

A.A. at World Services

Welcome to the District 8 Website of Alcoholics Anonymous in CMIA 32. Our primary purpose is to serve Alcoholics Anonymous in Livingston County and surrounding communities. District 8 Help & Information Line:  517-540-9533 or 877-545-3680 is an organized web guide that connects individuals who are struggling with addiction, and their loved ones, to treatment options, information and the help they need across the country. Our goal is to hinder this growth of substance abuse.

Alcohol Rehab Guide  is an organization that provides comprehensive, reliable information on the various aspects of alcohol abuse and addiction. We offer support and guidance for those who are struggling, as well as their parents, family members, friends, and community members.

The World Health Organization estimated that approximately 3.3 million people die each year from alcohol abuse. Our goal is to provide helpful information to as many people as possible on alcohol abuse, addiction, and recovery options.

Our advanced approach to addiction treatment and drug treatment empowers individuals on the path to recovery. The Recovery Village offers comprehensive treatment for dual diagnosis based drug and alcohol rehab, eating disorder and mental health treatments tailored to the patient’s specific needs. At The Recovery Village, we understand addiction. Our fully trained staff will guide patients and family to the goal of complete rehabilitation.

Top of the line medical care, combined with wellness programs and holistic addiction treatments such as yoga and meditation, massage and equine resources mean we are dedicated to healing the whole self. We provide affordable luxury and recovery in a setting where lasting health and peace of mind are the goals. If you are looking for the best alcohol and drug rehab programs or facilities we can help you find the right resources.

OnTheWagon was founded by victims of drug and alcohol abuse with the objective of creating the most comprehensive and authoritative resource for parents, children, friends, and society as a whole on drug abuse and mental health related issues, with the end goal to get them back “on the wagon.”

This goal accomplished via the dissemination of substance abuse information and advocate healthy life choices by using free, integrated social media, web-based campaigns, and experts in the field.

These campaigns consist of substance abuse prevention messages that intend to change attitudes, and ultimately, behaviors.


  • To support the life-long decision to live drug free
  • To provide scientific-based principles in educating about the dangers of substance abuse
  • To reduce drug use among all populations, but especially 16-25 year olds
  • To encourage advocacy for drug free choices

Sober Times was founded with the intention of becoming a widely available resource for the ever-growing recovery community.  Our main goal is to be an all-encompassing source of news, entertainment and insight for those new or established in 12 step, other spiritual based solutions or support groups – as well as help those seeking rehabilitation from drugs and alcohol by introducing them to our network of established recovery specialists.

WELCOME TO REHABCENTER.NET –Your Portal To A New, Improved, Drug-Free Life

Addiction can strike anyone, and when it does, you feel every part of your life is spinning out of control. Your friends won’t call you, your finances are a mess, and your job feels like a nightmare. When all that matters is your next high, you’ve stopped living. Where can you turn to for help?

A drug or alcohol problem is not a death sentence—you can get your life back and be the person you were meant to be. The benefits of recovery include a renewed outlook, a wiser disposition, and a more energetic and ambitious you.

You don’t have to fight addiction alone. is the Web’s most comprehensive guide to quality rehab centers and addiction treatment. We offer free and confidential information about the many effective and empowering rehab options available today.

Our mission at is to connect people and their families with the information and resources to help them recover from substance abuse and behavioral disorders. We are a private resource and do not receive funding from any state or government programs, working instead with some of the country’s most respected treatment organizations who support and sponsor our efforts.
We are real people who have had experience with addiction and recovery—some of us firsthand, with others having seen the havoc it can wreak on family and friends. We have come out of the other side stronger for it, and firmly believing that recovery is possible for everyone. There is no tried-and-true formula that works for every person, and we will all take different paths. Still, we believe that recovery is absolutely possible, and that it should be placed within reach of anyone and everyone who wishes to get better.

Find the Best Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Addiction Recovery Centers

Addiction Resource was founded in 2014 to provide a community for those recovering from addiction and to help patients find the highest quality care for a successful recovery. Our goal is to provide resources to help patients and their loved ones so that they may stay on the road to recovery, and can successfully overcome addiction for life. We believe in our ability to help improve the lives of others, and belief is what motivates us to educate and support our readers every day.

Addiction Resource is not a treatment center and does not accept payments or advertising offers. Instead, we work to provide free resources to help people better understand their addiction and motivate them to make the first step in seeking support.

Helping LGBTQ People Suffering From Addiction

Addiction Helper is an online addiction support service.

We set up Addiction Helper to address the need for treatment and impartial help for those affected by addiction. As recovering addicts and alcoholics ourselves, we recognised that there was a lack of real support for those affected by addiction and unhealthy compulsive behaviours. Addiction and alcoholism are illnesses, just like cancer and diabetes are illnesses. And this is acknowledged by the British Medical Council. Too many people die from addiction but there is treatment out there, as there is for cancer and diabetes. Addicts can recover. However, finding the right treatment can be overwhelming, getting your loved one to accept treatment can seem an impossible task. We wanted to use our experience and expertise to take away the confusion and fear from the recovery process.

The Addiction Helper team consists of trained addiction treatment counsellors and we work with therapists and some of the leading medical specialists in the field of addiction and mental health. We will always suggest a minimum of three rehab centres to offer you a breadth and range of facilities that best suit you and your individual needs. What we do is get people suffering from addiction and compulsive behaviours into the best treatment plans for them. We work with only the most successful and renowned treatment clinics in the world, and we ensure that the centres that we work with in the UK are members of the Care Quality Commission.

Addiction Helper is not only about getting addicts into private rehabilitation clinics. Rehab is not the only form of treatment available and is not always the most appropriate one. We find our clients the right help, whether that is intervention, outpatient rehab, counselling, CBT or holistic therapy, and we provide ongoing support and aftercare to prevent relapse. There is free help out there too and we can advise on NHS services in your local area

We also provide much-needed free advice and support for the families of addicts, and information about addictions and mental health issues to promote better understanding. And that’s exactly why we launched Addiction Helper: to have all the information required by those affected by addictions and mental health issues in one place.

Addiction Helper is a treatment provider and receives bed fee discounts from rehabs. This enables us to deliver our service to all enquirers.

We proudly offer an extensive list of detox centers, rehab programs and treatment facilities to choose from. Take the time to view the list of resources throughout the country, which is updated regularly.

Also, whether you don’t find exactly what you’re looking for, or you need some other treatment options, we have rehabilitation consultants standing by to assist you.

Simply fill out the contact form on our website or call our toll-free number now to speak with a live person. Call (888) 694-3198

This guide will help you understand how alcohol disrupts sleep, what causes sleep problems during detox, and coping tips so you can sleep better during this tough time, and stick it through to the end.

Are you interested in helping others with addiction issues? The site is free and has a lot of valuable information, like their Mental Health and Substance Abuse blog series, or their Mental Health and Education Resources for Kids and Teens, Counselor Tool Kits and more. aims to inform parents and family members of those struggling with addiction, as well as addicts and alcoholics themselves, about the options available for treating addiction. With a library of original content as well as the introduction of content from our sister site (launched 1998, now merged here), and a national directory of teen resources, addiction therapists, treatment centers, and sober living providers, we educate in simple language. While is not meant to take the place of advice from medical professionals, who should always be consulted regarding issues of substance abuse or potential behavioral health disorders, we do provide overviews and offer a referral service that can expedite the process of familiarizing yourself with use, abuse, dependency, treatment and recovery topics and options.

We understand that having a loved one who is battling addiction can be an overwhelming and confusing time. This guide is meant to give you a basic overview of drug names that you will often hear while you or your loved one is in or seeking treatment. Some drugs listed, like naltrexone – while not used illicitly, are used to help individuals struggling with opioid addiction. This guide is meant to help inform you so that you know what to look out for – as well as what treatment options look like.

The Quiet Epidemic: Our seniors are developing drug & alcohol addiction at an alarming rate. We provide information, resources and treatment for care providers and seniors battling addiction and related conditions

Our Mission: Let’s not forget our seniors and their families. Lets give them the best support, information, resources and tools to overcome addiction and pursue lifelong recovery. We are here to help you and your loved one every step of the way.