Should addiction treatment vary by person?
By Margaret Raskob
Addiction is a complex disease that affects different people in different ways. It can be associated with different substances and behaviors; progress at a variety of speeds; and exist alongside other health conditions such as anxiety or depression. Because addiction varies by person, the treatment must also vary to account for these factors.
Not every treatment will work for every person. For instance, there are medications to treat addiction involving alcohol, including Antabuse, acamprosate and naltrexone. A doctor must understand a patient’s treatment goals before determining which medication may be best suited for him and which behavioral therapy should also be used.
Because addiction is a complicated medical condition, a trained health care professional is required when deciding not only on the treatment services needed, but also on the appropriate level of care. A residential setting may be appropriate for some, but for a person with a less severe form of the disease, a strong support system and safe housing, an outpatient setting may be more appropriate.
Other factors such as genetic or family history risk, age, gender and exposure to trauma affect whether a particular treatment will work for a person with addiction. It is not only critical that treatment be tailored by a health care provider to each person’s particular needs, but the patient must also be helped to manage her disease after treatment to reduce the risk of relapse and get more help quickly if it occurs.
As with other diseases, there is no one-size cure-all in addiction treatment and a patient may have to try several therapies with the help of a trained professional along with some form of self-help meetings before he finds the one that works best for him. The bottom line, though, is that addiction is a treatable and manageable condition for people receiving quality care.
Margaret is a Research Associate at CASAColumbia specializing in addiction policy. This is her first blog for CASAColumbia.