Finding out that a loved one is struggling with a drug and/or alcohol problem can be one of the most devastating moments in a person’s life. Sometimes the addiction is known for years before the family steps in and intervenes and the person gets help.
Being open to treatment is something that should not be taken for granted, oftentimes an addict will have a moment of clarity or they will be in the throes of painful withdrawal symptoms and agree to enter into a rehab facility. When families or loved ones take too long in locating a treatment center they can find that the addict is no longer willing. Understanding the types of treatment available for people addicted to any drug, especially opiates, is important for when loved ones are ready to get the help they need.
Conducting research on the many treatment options out there is a luxury that families of addicts do not often have, as timing can be critical. In fact, many experts agree that when an addict is ready to enroll in a treatment center it is best to bring them that day.
National surveys show that less than 20% of addicts who needed treatment actually enrolled in a rehab facility. This may because families did not act fast enough or because the variety of treatment center options was overwhelming, as they sometimes offer conflicting information.
It is widely agreed that long term, inpatient treatment is the most effective method of getting a person clean from drugs and/or alcohol. In the past many people suffering from an addiction problem enrolled in outpatient programs. Insurance companies were more likely to pay for treatment that did not involve lodging or food. However, studies show that these types of treatment modalities are not as effective for addicts looking to kick an addiction, especially when dealing with opiates such as heroin or painkillers.
Instead, experts agree that one year of treatment and aftercare is ideal for someone with an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. This means that during the course of a year a person should spend between 30-90 days in an inpatient treatment center, followed by intense outpatient counseling, all adding up to a year’s worth of treatment and support.
Many people have also debated whether people addicted to opiates should be put on replacement drugs such as methadone or buprenorphine. If so, for how long? These medications can be useful in reducing the severity of withdrawal symptoms when used in a slow tapering process, but prolonged use will only result in tolerance and further dependency. There are many effective detoxification procedures for people addicted to heroin or painkillers today that use a much shorter taper process followed by long-term residential treatment.