December 5, 2021

Freedom from substance abuse

Helpful resources for treatment

The holidays are a time for celebration. And sometimes a cause for stress. Add in our current health crisis (looking at you, virus), and anyone of us can get thrown a little off kilter. 

We all have our own ways of coping. We find things that bring us joy. We seek friends and family. Maybe even the counsel of a therapist. But for some of us, the thing we turn to for help does more harm than good. 

Addiction to drugs and alcohol is a chronic mental health condition suffered by 21 million Americans–and it impacts many millions more friends, coworkers and family members. Alcohol abuse alone is a worldwide crisis, affecting more than 300 million people (about the size of the U.S. population).

During the holidays, the health and safety of our loved ones top everyone’s wish list. If a loved one is suffering from addiction, consider making a gift of your help and support. If you are struggling, the best gift you can give yourself is the decision to make a change.

Daunting, yes. But sometimes just knowing help is available is enough to find the courage to act. Here is a list of treatments for substance abuse disorders that have been successful in helping people move past addiction. You’ll see that the options have come a long way in recent years. In fact, more than 22 million Americans have overcome alcohol and drug problems. 


For many addictions, it is recommended that treatment begins with medically assisted detox. Withdrawal from some substances, including opioids and alcohol, can cause extreme discomfort or even life-threatening symptoms. Once detoxed, it is safe to move on to treating the underlying causes of addiction.  

12-Step Programs

Also called twelve-step facilitation therapy, it’s the treatment we most often associate with beating addiction from drugs and alcohol. As the name implies, those who participate in the treatment follow 12 steps, including admitting powerlessness against a substance, acceptance, and surrender to a higher power. Attending meetings in a group setting for support and adhering to the steps are core parts of its success. This therapy is free and open to anyone. 

Treatment with Medication

Therapeutic medications can be used to address cravings and behaviors. Medications for alcoholism can increase abstinence (acamprosate) and decrease consumption (naltrexone). Opioid addictions are often treated with buprenorphine under different brand names. Keep in mind that in some instances, insurance can require prior authorization for these drugs, which can delay treatment (at Gifthealth, we have been able to drastically reduce these delays with a streamlined prior authorization process).

Contingency Management

This therapy works through positive reinforcement by rewarding healthy behaviors. It has proven to be especially successful at preventing relapse.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

This therapy (CBT) starts by helping people recognize unhealthy behavioral patterns, identify triggers, and then works to develop coping skills. It is often combined with other therapeutic techniques. 

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy

Or REBT works by helping people recognize negative thoughts and providing ways to overcome them–chiefly by promoting the power of rational thinking to dispel the triggers caused by external stressors.

This list is by no means comprehensive. They’ve been selected because they have proven successful by themselves or in conjunction with other therapies. They are often used in either residential or outpatient settings as part of an addiction treatment plan.

The best place to start is with your physician, who can provide recommendations based on your health history. 

You can also contact U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) 24 hours/365 days at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for help and resources.

Remember, the best gift of all is your health. Getting help for substance abuse is truly a gift that keeps giving for a lifetime. 

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