Substance abuse and addiction is a complex disease, and drugs or alcohol cannot be simply “quit.” These substances alter the brain so that stopping use is both physically and mentally difficult. At Southside Medical Center in Atlanta, GA, we understand this dynamic perfectly and are here to provide the personalized care and therapy you need.
What Treatments Are Available for Substance Abuse?
Addiction is a multi-faceted disease that includes a physical dependency on alcohol, drugs, or other substances. The far-reaching effects of this disease also include mental and emotional elements. Successful treatment, therefore, requires an approach that addresses each of these elements individually, meaning lifestyle choices and behavioral patterns must be considered with the physical dependence.
The Matrix Model is a treatment approach originally developed to treat methamphetamine and cocaine addictions. Today, it’s recognized as aptly treating any type of substance use and has been adapted for outpatient care. The focus of this model is to prevent relapse, as people addicted to stimulants experience potent cravings.
The Matrix Model is backed by research that confirms its efficacy. For example, two studies found that users who completed this program showed lower rates of cocaine and methamphetamine use eight months and two years later, respectively. Many of these people also enjoyed gainful employment.
One Treatment, Many Components
Under the Matrix Model umbrella are many different treatment components, including individual therapy sessions. These meetings may involve significant others or family members for a more inclusive approach. The goal is to give a patient a comfortable space to discuss his or her progress with complete honesty.
Recovery groups for users in the early months of sobriety also meet to share tools for managing their personal time and dealing with cravings. These groups allow participants to create their own daily schedules and stick to them with support from other group members. Likewise, relapse prevention groups encourage participants to share strategies for staying sober. These groups follow a very organized protocol and focus on specific topics like:
- Altering thinking patterns
- Changing behaviors
- Joining 12-step groups
The Matrix Model also makes use of family education groups. These teach about the health effects of drugs, the biology and conditioning of addiction, and the effects of addiction on the entire family. Social support groups take place in the final month of treatment. Participants direct their efforts to finding friends who do not use and, likewise, drug-free activities.
Rewards and Consequences
While many different components form the whole of the Matrix Model, one of the most useful is contingency management. This strategy rewards responsible behaviors like attending treatment sessions. Similarly, it also employs consequences and/or withholds rewards for irresponsible behaviors like ignoring prescribed medications or failing a drug test.
Having said that, the Matrix Model randomly drug tests participants each week. This is not intended to punish or embarrass users, but to instead hold them accountable for their behaviors. It also provides crucial information to counselors; for example, a positive test may suggest a need to provide more structure to the patient.
Cognitive Behavioral Interventions
Founded in the 1960s by Dr. Aaron T. Beck, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps people recognize and connect problematic thoughts and feelings that encourage addiction. As such, CBT can also treat co-occurring disorders like:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Eating disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
CBT shows participants that most harmful emotions and actions are neither logical nor rational. Environmental factors as well as past experiences contribute to these feelings and behaviors, meaning they can be defeated. This first requires that an addicted person recognize why they act or feel a certain way. Armed with this knowledge, they acquire a more powerful position to beat addiction.
The Premise of CBT
CBT asks participants to repeatedly visit painful memories. This reduces the hold such memories have over a person, and once that is gone, the participant is free to replace drug or alcohol use with positive behaviors. CBT also identifies automatic negative thoughts, which are based on impulse rather than slow and deliberate thinking.
For instance, an addicted person might think he or she needs to drink after making a series of mistakes at work. But with CBT, that thought process changes to one where the person sees a bad day as a learning experience. They understand everyone makes mistakes and that alcohol isn’t necessary to help them “forget.”
A Proven Track Record
This treatment model has proven successful because it ultimately helps patients:
- Dismiss insecurities and false beliefs that encourage substance abuse
- Develop self-help tools that improve their moods
- Learn more effective communication methods
As you might have guessed, this treatment approach motivates patients to recognize and change destructive behaviors. It’s valuable in overcoming a lack of incitement to quit using, which can be one of the most significant barriers to recovery.
The protocol is rooted in the belief that all individuals struggling with addiction have at least some awareness of the negative consequences associated with drug abuse. The therapist’s goal is to help a patient master his or her fear of change or ambivalence. In turn, the patient is motivated by an internal desire to quit. The counselor does not tell the patient to quit; instead, he or she finds personal motivation for doing so and is, therefore, more committed to treatment.
Explaining a Lack of Motivation
Three reasons explain why addicted individuals lack the provocation necessary to change their lifestyles. First, they don’t see their addiction as a serious problem. Second, they don’t want to release the positive sensations that substance abuse brings. And, finally, they fear the symptoms that follow quitting, such as urgent cravings and temporary physical illness.
Motivational interviewing (MI) is comprised of several points, including:
- A patient-counselor relationship that resembles a partnership
- The therapist guiding the patient to understand and resolve ambivalence
- The patient finding internal motivators to quit using
A Helpful Approach for Many
MI can prove highly beneficial for those who haven’t previously succeeded with CBT. It’s also an ideal option for patients who need a close relationship with their counselors, validation of their feelings, or significant support. Likewise, those who have relapsed after previously undergoing treatment can often find the help they need in MI.
Medicated-Assisted Lifestyle Enrichment Treatment
Sometimes referred to as MAT, this treatment option is used in combination with behavioral therapies and counseling. While MAT provides patients with FDA-approved medications to help overcome addiction, the approach is highly beneficial. It considers the whole patient, not merely one or two components, and makes quitting a little easier. In fact, medications have been shown to save lives by helping to prevent relapses. MAT can also:
- Increase retention in treatment
- Improve patient survival
- Help patients gain and maintain employment
- Improve birth outcomes in women who are pregnant
Those medications prescribed as part of a treatment plan include naloxone, naltrexone, and methadone. The medication chosen depends on a patient’s individual situation and is recommended in a responsible manner. In turn, patients can safely take these prescriptions for months, years, or even a lifetime. The treatment plan is created in partnership with a patient’s doctor, and a desire to stop medication must be fully discussed before changes occur.
Counseling and Behavioral Therapies
Federal law requires that MAT patients also receive counseling, which may include different forms of behavioral therapy. Additional treatment services are also required, including educational, vocational, and medical assistance. MAT ensures a patient has access to resources during and after treatment that promote long-term health.
Benefits of Offering Multiple Treatment Programs
Many people believe detoxification is in and of itself sufficient to overcome addiction, but much more than this is necessary. True recovery demands many diverse treatments, services, and steps. And by offering multiple treatment programs, we give patients the tools required to combat the behavioral, social, and psychological problems associated with addiction.
Individual therapy helps each patient identify and address personal contributors to addiction. Specifically, it focuses on the patient’s physical, employment, family, and emotional elements that influence thoughts and behaviors. Group treatment programs retain the same focus but additionally offer social support and reinforcement. Motivational interviewing helps a patient discover their own reasons for quitting, and MAT can reduce the prevalence of relapse.
A Personalized Path to Recovery
You shouldn’t feel alone in your decision to recover from substance abuse. We tailor treatment plans to meet individual needs in a structured and supportive environment. And our professionally-trained staff have the skills to address addiction as well as co-occurring disorders like anxiety. Learn more today by contacting Southside Medical Center in Atlanta, GA.