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Substance Abuse in Rehab

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Doctors Treat Patients for Substance Abuse

There are many jobs in substance abuse treatment that aim to provide care for those who are struggling with addiction.

Navigation: Medication-Assisted Treatment, Behavioral Therapy, Individualized Treatment Plans, Support Groups, Aftercare Planning, Conclusion, Rehab Is Your Best Chance


Substance abuse is a serious issue that affects millions of people worldwide. It can have devastating effects on individuals, families, and communities.

Fortunately, there are treatment options available for those struggling with this condition. One of the most effective forms of treatment is rehab. Here, doctors and other healthcare professionals work together to help patients on their recovery journey.

For most patients the main goal of treatment is to attain and maintain abstinence. However, if this cannot be immediately achieved, then efforts may be done to minimize the effects of drugs and alcohol on the person’s physical and mental health. [1]

There are many jobs in substance abuse treatment that aim to provide care for those who are struggling with addiction. However, for a lot of people, going to rehab can be a scary thought because they don’t know what to expect. This is why it is necessary to talk about the treatment process and how it works.

In this article, we will explore the different ways doctors treat patients for substance abuse in rehab.


Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medication-assisted treatment or MAT is a common form of treatment for substance abuse in rehab. It has been shown to be effective in improving treatment outcomes. It can also reduce relapse rates, and increase quality of life for individuals struggling with addiction. It is considered a valuable tool in the broader effort to combat substance use disorders.

This approach combines medication with behavioral therapy to help patients manage their addiction and reduce cravings. It is most effective in the treatment of opioid use disorders (OUD) as it can help people sustain their recovery. [2]

The medication used in MAT can vary depending on the substance being abused, but some common medications include methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. These are the three drugs that are approved by the FDA for the treatment of opioid dependence. All three have proven to be safe and effective when used in combination with counseling. [2]

These medications can help patients manage withdrawal symptoms and reduce the risk of relapse.

This comprehensive, evidence-based approach to treating substance use disorders can also be used for patients with alcohol use disorders. For alcohol use disorder, medications like disulfiram, Acamprosate, and naltrexone may be prescribed.

The primary goal of MAT is to help individuals reduce or stop their use of addictive substances, prevent withdrawal symptoms, and support long-term recovery.

The keyword here is “medication-assisted”. This means medication is not the sole component of MAT. Counseling and behavioral therapies are integral to the treatment process. These therapies help patients address the psychological and social aspects of addiction while developing healthy coping skills and working towards long-term recovery.

MAT programs often include a range of supportive services such as medical care, mental health treatment, and social services to address the holistic needs of individuals with substance use disorders.

Lastly, we should note that MAT is not a one-size-fits-all approach. The choice of medication and treatment plan should be tailored to the person’s specific needs and circumstances.


Behavioral Therapy

Another important aspect of substance abuse treatment in rehab is behavioral therapy. This type of therapy helps patients identify and change negative behaviors and thought patterns that contribute to their substance abuse. After all, addiction is not just a physical condition. It also affects a person’s thoughts, behaviors, and emotions.

There are several types of behavioral therapy used in rehab, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and motivational interviewing. These therapies can help patients develop coping skills, improve communication, and build a support system for their recovery.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in particular is a type of mental health counseling that was founded in the 1960s by Dr. Aaron T. Beck. This therapy helps patients address their addictive behavior by recognizing problematic thoughts and overcoming them. Now it is widely used in the field of addiction treatment. [3]

Aside from addiction, CBT can also be used to treat co-occurring disorders like anxiety, attention deficit disorder (ADD), bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), etc. Overall, it teaches patients to find connections between their thoughts, feelings, and actions, so they can understand how those things impact their recovery. [3]

Behavioral therapy focuses on identifying and modifying maladaptive behaviors to improve a person’s emotional and mental well-being. It is based on the principles of behaviorism. This is a psychological approach that emphasizes the importance of observable behaviors over inner thoughts and feelings.

Oftentimes, behavioral therapists will use classical conditioning to help their clients understand how their behaviors are learned and can be modified.

Behavioral therapy is typically a short-term and goal-oriented approach, and the therapist and the client work together to set specific, achievable targets for behavior change. It can be highly effective in addressing a wide range of psychological and emotional issues by focusing on concrete, observable behaviors that contribute to addiction.

Individualized Treatment Plans

Every patient is unique, and their treatment plan should reflect that. In rehab, doctors work with patients to create individualized treatment plans that address their specific needs and challenges. This may include a combination of medication, therapy, and other treatments, depending on the patient’s history and current situation.

By tailoring treatment plans to each patient, doctors can provide the most effective care and increase the chances of successful recovery.

In rehab, a treatment plan is a comprehensive, progressive, and personalized plan that includes all the prescribed behavioral health services. Treatment plans must include services that are designed to help patients restore a functional level of independence. [4]

The first step in creating an individualized treatment plan is to assess the patient’s condition, needs, and goals. The addicted individual may go through medical examinations, psychological assessments, interviews, and other evaluations. This will give the health care providers enough information on the patient’s treatment needs.

Based on the assessment, clear and specific treatment goals are established in collaboration with the patient. This may include selecting appropriate interventions, therapies, and medications. In many cases, an individualized treatment plan involves input and collaboration from various healthcare professionals, such as doctors, therapists, social workers, and counselors.

Remember that these individualized treatment plans are not static but evolve over time. This will depend on the patient’s progress. Necessary adjustments will be made as the person works towards their recovery goals. This ensures that the plan remains relevant and effective.

Individualized treatment plans aim to empower the individual to take an active role in their own care. They are designed to help patients make informed choices regarding their sobriety.

Individualized treatment plans are widely used in fields like medicine, psychotherapy, addiction recovery, and rehabilitation, as they recognize that every person is unique, and one-size-fits-all approaches may not be effective in addressing their specific needs and circumstances. These plans can lead to more successful outcomes and a higher quality of care for patients.

Support Groups

Addiction has a social aspect to it. If you are trying to give up drugs and alcohol, then you may need some help from other people—and not just from your friends and family members.

Peer support groups, also known as recovery support or mutual self-help groups can provide guidance, encouragement, and assistance as you go through the recovery process. It can be comforting to receive some help from other people who know exactly what you are going through. Support groups may meet online or in person. They also go through group discussions and meetings led by a facilitator who also has experience with substance abuse disorders. [5]

Support groups are typically led by peers who have experience with addiction and are in recovery themselves. This peer support can be a powerful motivator and source of empathy.

Support groups are an essential part of substance abuse treatment in rehab. These groups provide a safe and supportive environment for patients to share their experiences, struggles, and successes. Aside from sharing their thoughts, emotions, and struggles, they can also build a support network that can offer encouragement and motivation.

Participating in support groups can also reduce feelings of shame or isolation that people usually feel when struggling with addiction. This reduces stigma and encourages open communication about this medical condition. [5]

Some common support groups for substance abuse include Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Many support groups, including AA and NA, follow a 12-step program that outlines principles and steps for recovery. These steps can be a structured guide for members.

Members are often encouraged to maintain confidentiality, which creates a safe space for patients to share their experiences and feelings without fear of judgment or repercussions. Support groups foster an environment where recovering individuals can discuss their struggles, setbacks, and achievements without being judged. This sharing can provide insights and guidance for others in the group.

Not only that, support groups also promote accountability by setting goals and discussing progress. Members hold each other accountable for their actions and sobriety.

There are various types of support groups available, including general addiction support groups, groups specific to certain substances (e.g., AA for alcohol, NA for narcotics), and groups tailored to specific demographics, such as women, LGBTQ+ individuals, or veterans.

Support groups can be a valuable part of addiction treatment but they are often most effective when used in conjunction with therapy, counseling, and medical intervention. Support groups provide ongoing support and can be a lifeline for individuals in recovery, but they may not be a standalone solution for everyone. It’s essential to work with healthcare professionals to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for one’s specific needs.

Aftercare Planning

Recovery from substance abuse is a lifelong journey, and doctors in rehab understand the importance of aftercare planning. Aftercare planning involves creating a plan for continued support and treatment after a patient completes their rehab program. This may include ongoing therapy, support groups, and other resources to help patients maintain their sobriety and prevent relapse.

In the context of addiction treatment, it refers to the structured and ongoing support and treatment that patients receive after they have completed a primary drug rehabilitation program. The primary goal of aftercare planning is to help them maintain their sobriety and prevent relapse by providing continued guidance, resources, and support.

Aftercare plans often include strategies and coping skills to help patients identify and manage triggers that could lead to a relapse. This may involve developing a relapse prevention plan that outlines steps to take in case of cravings or high-risk situations.

Many aftercare programs offer ongoing individual therapy or counseling sessions to address specific issues or challenges that may arise during the recovery process. Support groups are also common during the aftercare process. The patient may participate in group therapy sessions. These provide them with opportunities to connect with others who are in recovery, share experiences, and receive mutual support.

Many aftercare plans involve participation in 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). These programs provide a structured framework for maintaining sobriety and offer ongoing support from a community of peers.

In some cases, family therapy or support for family members may be included in the aftercare plan to address family dynamics and promote a healthy, supportive environment for the individual in recovery.

Meanwhile, some patients in recovery may require medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to manage cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Aftercare planning can involve ongoing monitoring and adjustment of medication regimens.

It is also common for aftercare programs to include education and training in essential life skills. This may include job readiness, financial management, and interpersonal communication. These are designed to help patients reintegrate into society and avoid relapse.

Aftercare planning typically involves periodic assessment of an individual’s progress and the adjustment of treatment goals as needed. Regular drug testing and check-ins may be part of the aftercare plan to ensure they remain committed to their recovery.

Aftercare planning is a critical component of the addiction recovery process, as it helps individuals transition from the controlled environment of a rehabilitation center back into their everyday lives. It provides ongoing support and resources to help individuals build the skills and resilience needed to maintain long-term sobriety and prevent relapse. The specific components of an aftercare plan can vary based on the individual’s needs and the rehab facility’s offerings.


In conclusion, doctors use a variety of methods to treat patients for substance abuse in rehab. These may include medication-assisted treatment, behavioral therapy, individualized treatment plans, support groups, and aftercare planning. By combining these approaches, doctors can provide comprehensive care to help patients on their recovery journey.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, know that there is help available. Reach out to a healthcare professional or treatment center to learn more about your options for recovery.

Rehab is Your Best Chance

Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover. Beating an addiction not only requires eliminating the physical dependence, but also addressing the behavioral factors that prevent them from wanting to get better. Simply quitting may not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Some people quit for a while, and then take drugs or alcohol again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.


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Fel Clinical Director of Content
Felisa Laboro has been working with addiction and substance abuse businesses since early 2014. She has authored and published over 1,000 articles in the space. As a result of her work, over 1,500 people have been able to find treatment. She is passionate about helping people break free from alcohol or drug addiction and living a healthy life.

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