The World Health Organisation (WHO) recognizes addiction (alcohol, drugs and smoking) to be a treatable illness. When an individual is addicted to alcohol or drugs, the cravings that are experienced may drive them to do illegal and sometimes life-threatening actions, which are all aimed at satisfying their cravings. Using alcohol and drugs may start off as seemingly harmless, voluntary act, but over time and through a series of bad choices, an addiction may occur. Addiction is often referred to as a brain disease as it affects the way it normally functions. It negatively influences the parts of the brain which control behaviour, memory, learning as well as the feelings of pleasure.

Because the nature of each and everyone’s addiction will be different, it makes finding the correct treatment a very complicated and tricky process and therefore it is advisable to find treatment with the help of a medical professional or an addictions counsellor.
The main aim of treatment is to help stop the addicted individual’s use of drugs and to ensure that they live a clean and sober lifestyle as well as helping in safely transferring the person back into society with an education of how they can avoid it in the future.
It’s important to understand that there is no cure for addiction and that the recovery process is a lifelong procedure.

The Guidelines of Alcohol and Addiction Treatment
Studies have proven that treatment does work and that it helps addicts stop using alcohol and drugs as well as ensuring that the individual remains sober and are able to live normal lives again.
A list of guidelines was formed from these studies that now serve as the basis of many successful treatment programs around the globe. These are:

  1. Addiction is a treatable illness that affects the way the brain performs its normal duties.
  2. Everyone’s addiction is different therefore it has to be treated differently.
  3. Treatment should always be available for those in need of it.
  4. Successful treatment will focus on all the aspects of the individuals, not just their addiction.
  5. It is vital that all patients remain in treatment for a suitable period of time.
  6. Counselling (one-on-one or group) and behavioural therapies are the most commonly used types of treatment.
  7. Medication plays an important role in treatment when it is used in conjunction with counselling and therapy.
  8. Treatment has to be modified and altered in regard to the addicted individuals ever-changing needs and requirements.
  9. Addicted individuals may also suffer from mental illnesses.
  10. Detoxification is merely the starting point of addictions recovery treatment and is by no means a cure.
  11. Whether treatment is voluntary or not, forcing an individual into treatment has no effect on whether it will be successful or not.
  12. Patients have to be constantly supervised with regard to the use of medication, as relapses may happen during treatment.
  13. Treatment should also include the screening to see if the addicted patient has other HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis (TB), Hepatitis or other infectious diseases. Good quality alcohol and addiction treatment centres give their patients counselling aimed at changing their behaviours to minimise their risk of getting or spreading these types of communicable diseases.

Successful Alcohol and Addiction Treatment Methods
The ingredients of successful treatment will include a combination of detoxification, medication, therapy and counselling which is aimed at preventing a relapse occurring.
Detoxification plays a vital role in the path to recovery as it helps ease and reduce any withdrawal symptoms that may be suffered due to the cessation of drug use.
However, relapses may still occur, therefore treatment has to be modified and altered to suit every patients needs. What works for one patient, might not work for another.
Also, treatment does not end once patient is discharged , recovery is a lifelong process, that’s why it’s important that rehabilitation is geared to ensuring that the individual can and may live a life free of narcotic substances.

Types of Medication
These are the types of medication used in the two treatment processes:
Withdrawal/Detoxification Medication
This medication is aimed at easing and minimising any withdrawal symptoms that might be experienced when an addicted individual stops his or her drug use. This also signifies the start of the treatment process however it is important to note that it is no cure for addiction.

Treatment Medication
This medication is used to help the brain return to its normal functioning and also to avoid cravings and the chances of a relapse.
Today, there are separate medicines for allocated for almost each class of narcotics, whether it is opioids, nicotine or alcohol.

  • Opioid Medicines: Medication such as methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone are all used in the treatment of addictions such as heroin and morphine. These drugs work by stopping the effects addiction has on the brain and also allows the patients to become more interested in their treatment.
  • Nicotine Medicines: Nicotine medication come in various forms: patches, chewing gum, lozenges and can be obtained almost anywhere. However, all these medications are most effective when used with therapy and guidance from a medical professional.
  • Alcoholism Medication: In the treatment of alcoholism, only three medicines have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which are naltrexone, acamprosate and disulfiram. Another medicine that has yet to be approved but is also effective is topiramate. These all help in stopping the cravings for the drug and also reduces the possibility of a relapse occurring.

Types of Behavioural Treatment
The aim of behavioural treatment is to involve patients in the treatment procedures allocated to them, to change their perception of drugs and also make sure that they are taught how to live a clean and sober lifestyle.
They also help in making the medications used in treatment more effective and in the retaining of patients for the full duration of their treatment.
Here are the different types of behavioural treatment methods used in rehabilitation:
Outpatient Behavioural Treatment
This form of treatment can be done through regular meetings at a rehabilitation centre and involves various types of counselling, most commonly one-on-one and group. Other behavioural treatments include:

  • Cognitive–Behavioural Therapy (CBT): Helps addicted individuals realise, deter and manage situations in which they could suffer a relapse.
  • Family Therapy: This helps in improving family functioning which might have been affected by the individual’s drug abuse.
  • Motivational Interviewing: Utilizes the individuals positivity in wanting recovery to change their actions and get them into treatment
  • Motivational Incentives: This involves the use of encouragement and support to help the individual abstain from using drugs or alcohol.

Inpatient Treatment (Residential)
This is probably the most effective form of alcohol and addiction treatment programs available today. This programme is most commonly recommended for those suffering from severe addiction and patients will reside at the clinic for a period of time dependent on the nature and type of addiction suffered. The aim of inpatient treatment is to ensure that the individuals are medically treated and are taught how to live a life free of drugs and alcohol.