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What is treatment?

Most addiction treatments are designed to do more than simply reduce or remove alcohol or drug use - they focus on getting addicted people to change their lifestyle and even their core life values as a way of preventing return of the problems.

How should co-occurring disorders, such as depression or anxiety, be considered in a treatment plan?

Many people with addictions, especially young people, suffer from co-occurring mental health problems. People in treatment must be screened for such disorders so that the treatment plan can take them into account. Otherwise, chances for success are greatly reduced. Anxiety, mood and other psychiatric disorders are the mental health problems most common among people with alcohol and other drug problems. Medical and behavioral (talk therapy) treatments should be tailored to the specific disorder. There is no one-size-fits-all medication or therapy.

If there is a choice of treatment options, how do you choose the right one?

Evidence-based, or scientifically proven, treatment is particularly important in the addictions field because many myths and personal biases have slipped into professional thinking and are often accepted without question. For example, the notion that an individual needs to reach "rock bottom" before he or she can benefit from treatment is absolutely wrong, although until recently, many practitioners and researchers thought this was true. Data show that individuals who have more social support and economic stability, that is, have not lost their jobs or families, will have a much better outcome in treatment as compared to those who enter treatment without a strong social network to support their recovery.

Are you recovered when treatment ends?

Professional treatment of alcohol and drug problems can start someone on the road to recovery, but a few weeks of treatment should not be mistaken for long-term recovery. If you have alcohol and other drug problems, you should know that successful recovery from these problems involves significant changes over time in personal identity and beliefs, family and social relationships, and daily lifestyle.