“I have discovered that I am fierce.”

“I am brave enough to do this.”

Addiction is a disease, and it’s treatable. As with any chronic disease, the treatment for Substance Use Disorder (SUD) is unique to everyone. The goal is to end the substance misuse and achieve overall wellness.

Whole-person wellness, which is critical to maintaining long-term recovery, includes:

  • Overall physical health
  • A healthy mind that can think clearly and manage emotions
  • A living environment that is safe, clean and feels like home
  • Healthy relationships with friends, children, partners and others

Finding the treatment option that is right for you or your family member can be daunting. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has developed a booklet called “What is Substance Abuse Treatment”(PDF) that will answer many of your questions and educate you about treatment options.

Peer recovery supports are systems of support led by those who are in active, successful recovery. This can include anything from 12-step meetings to individual 1:1 support with a Peer Recovery Coach. Having been through the treatment process, trained peers work to support others with their shared understanding and mutual respect. Peer Support services can be provided within, or outside of a clinical setting and are one more way to reduce the likelihood of relapse. For more information on peer recovery supports, click here.

Clinical treatment comes in many forms- residential or outpatient, low intensity or high intensity. “Treatment and Recovery is a guide that can help you become familiar with the many different options out there. When you’re ready, reach out, our Community Health Worker/ Recovery Coaches (CHW/RC) can walk you through the process for each program and provide access to needed documents. Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) is treatment that uses FDA-approved medications in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies to provide a comprehensive approach to the treatment of Substance Use Disorders.

Family and friends play an important part in the treatment and recovery process. Click here to find out how you can support your loved one.

Supporting Someone in Treatment

Substance Use Disorder can place an undue burden on family and friends of the person affected. Substance use can dominate the person with the disorder, affecting all their close relationships. Family and friends often try for months or years to convince their loved one to enter treatment, and although this is the first step towards recovery there are many additional factors that support long-term wellness. Learning to live without substances is a dramatic change for the person with the illness.

Family and friends want to be helpful but are often unsure how. Consider the following:

  • Educate yourself about Substance Use Disorder, including the treatment and recovery aspects. Understanding this is an illness that has affected how your loved one thinks, feels and interacts with the world is critical.
  • For many individuals, treatment is the first step, but they will still need to deal with the consequences of their previous actions. There may be financial issues, health problems and the long process of rebuilding trust in relationships.
  • Relapse is common, learn about relapse, know the signs and how you will respond.
  • Have reasonable expectations- recovery takes time. By knowing what to expect, you can help lessen disappointment.
  • Learn new communication skills that allow you to have non-blaming conversations with your loved one.
  • Remove all addictive substances from the home.
  • Understand that your loved one may not feel comfortable at social gatherings.
  • Find new activities you can enjoy together.
  • Don’t neglect yourself. Often family members have put their lives on hold to support someone with Substance Use Disorder. By re-prioritizing yourself, you can reduce resentment towards your loved one and model self-care.
  • Find support for yourself. Joining others with the lived experience of loving someone with Substance Use Disorder is very helpful. You will gain the emotional support, understanding and knowledge you need and have a safe place to share your feelings.

Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) is the practice of using FDA approved medication combined with counseling and behavioral therapies to treat Substance Use Disorders. This type of treatment can be used for several different substances, including nicotine, alcohol, and opioids. Opioids are a class of drug that include prescription pain relievers such as Oxycodone, heroin and fentanyl (a synthetic opioid).

Three prescription medications have been approved by the FDA specifically for the treatment of Opioid Use Disorder (OUD), including:

  • Methadone- a clinic-based, opioid agonist that combines with certain receptors in the brain to reduce opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms as well as block the effect of opioids. It is dispensed daily in liquid form and only in specialty regulated clinics
  • Naltrexone- an office-based, non-addictive opioid antagonist which means that it blocks the effects of opioids such as prescription opioids and heroin and is taken as a daily pill or monthly injection
  • Buprenorphine- an office-based opioid agonist/antagonist that reduces the effects of physical dependency to opioids, such as withdrawal symptoms and craving. The medication can be in the form of a daily dissolving tablet, cheek film, or 6-month implant under the skin

When used in combination with counseling, all three of these treatments have been proven to be safe and effective. As with any chronic disease, the paths of treatment and recovery are unique to everyone. Because of this, some individuals may use MAT temporarily, and some may continue indefinitely.

Click here for more information on Medication Assisted Treatment.

Pros and cons for MAT