Need for tailored treatment for addiction-Dr Tonmoy Sharma,CEO, Sovereign Health
Treatment for addiction to drugs or alcohol is complicated. There is no single treatment program that is right for everyone. Research has shown that the most effective treatment for substance use is tailored to each patient’s needs, beliefs and symptoms, and to her or his unique problems. The severity of addiction and previous efforts to stop using can also influence the approach used.
The best treatment programs combine psychotherapy, medication (when needed), and other services, and include family and loved ones in the process.
One of the most important parts of assessing the patient with substance use is determining if there is a co-existing mental disorder with the substance use disorder—a so-called dual diagnosis. If there are mental issues, these must be treated in tandem with the addiction. Since the stress of mental health problems can lead to abusing, and abusing can cause mental health issues, treating one disorder and not the other will sabotage the chances of a successful recovery. Patients’ age group, gender and family history are also important considerations.
When treating adolescents, for example, there are unique factors that will influence the approach to care. In early adolescence, individuals are more likely to less introspective and less concerned about the consequences of their behavior than older teens, who are more likely to be more introspective but have a stronger inclination to cave to peer pressure. Gender-wise, adolescent girls with substance use are more likely than boys to have been subjected to severe parental rejection, and physical or sexual abuse.
In adults, gender also can play a role in appropriate treatment. One gender-based model is POWER (Primary Opportunities for Women Experiencing Recovery), an approach for women age 40 years or older. Women commonly develop unhealthy ways of managing their lives, and often abuse alcohol and prescription painkillers. They are also more likely to have been subjected to sexual and/or domestic abuse. Therefore, POWER emphasizes teaching women to manage their health conditions, repair damaged relationships and establish stable, sober and supportive networks.
For men age 40 years and older, there is a corresponding program—PRIME (Personal Recovery Integrating Men’s Experiences), which is designed to give men the power they need to manage their health conditions, repair damaged relationships and establish stable and supportive sober networks. Both POWER and PRIME work from the knowledge base that men and women have different addiction vulnerabilities, and that treatment should vary accordingly.
Race, ethnicity and religion can also play a role in developing effective treatment. For example,CROSS (Christian Recovery Offering Significant Success) is a faith-based approach for both men and women. CROSS integrates mental health and addiction treatment with Christian spirituality. The CROSS community is comprised of patients and staff who share beliefs and values from a variety of Christian denominations.
In all patients with substance use issues, medication-assisted therapy (MAT) can be an important option to include in a successful treatment regimen. There are a variety of medications that make the road to recovery smoother by reducing cravings and lessening withdrawal symptoms. Medications can also lessen psychological and physical symptoms in people with mental disorders, such as depression. Not all patients require MAT, but for those with serious physical or mental symptoms, research shows that MAT combined with other therapies increases the chances of recovering.
Patients from all walks of life, and of all ages and genders, will have the best chance at recovering from addiction when they are thoroughly assessed at intake and have their treatment tailored to their individual needs. In addition to psychotherapy and MAT, there are other components of a successful, individual treatment program such as art therapy, yoga, horse therapy and many other options. People come in all shapes, colors and sizes. So does addiction treatment, which should be designed to meet each individual’s needs.