The most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) indicated that over 21.9% of Americans over 12 used illicit drugs in the past year. Despite this, seven in 10 adults who have had a substance use problem in the past are in recovery.
The fact is many people go on to be successful in recovery, but they need to know their treatment options to get started. As a primary healthcare provider, it’s critical to be able to discuss substance use with your patients. Having this conversation allows you to recommend the right treatment programs.
Keep reading this guide to learn how to talk to your patients about addiction and recommend treatment options.
Start the Conversation
Starting the conversation is the first step toward helping your patients choose addiction treatment options.
Therefore, establishing good communication with your patient is crucial. To do this, you must create a safe space. This allows them to feel comfortable talking with you about what’s going on in their lives.
Normalize the Discussion
Normalizing the conversation also helps create a safe space. Tell your patient it’s perfectly normal to have this discussion and they’re not alone. Substance use disorder (SUD) affects many people, and it can take time to talk to someone about it.
This will help break the ice since many people find it uncomfortable to discuss substance use. This is due to feeling embarrassed or ashamed about continuing to use substances.
Let Your Patient Tell Their Own Story
Start by asking open-ended questions to get the conversation flowing. You can ask them to tell you their history of substance use. Ask questions like when they started using substances and how they feel about their lives.
Many people feel uncomfortable in a medical environment. But if you invite them to speak in a warm and caring manner, it makes all the difference. People are very aware of the stigma of having a substance use disorder. So, you should also take steps like:
- Convey respect
- Make eye contact
- Be empathetic
- Let them tell their entire story
- Discuss feelings of sadness and depression
Reducing fear and stigma will allow your patients to open up about treatment options.
Explain Addiction Treatment Options
Once you’ve established good communication, you’ll have a better opportunity to discuss addiction treatment options with your patient.
There are various options you can recommend for your patients. The best thing about these treatment options is that the journey can include multiple treatment programs.
People can start with one option and transfer to another treatment program as needed.
The most common treatment programs include:
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is among the most effective treatments for people with opioid use disorder (OUD). MAT involves using specific medications and behavioral therapy, which are very effective together.
Using opioids long-term can cause OUD and cause changes in the brain.
In addition to pain relief, euphoria from a dopamine rush causes people to feel an emotional high. This is why people continue taking more opioids since they’re chasing this high.
Additionally, when you stop using opioids, it can cause severe withdrawal symptoms like:
- Muscle aches
- Runny nose
- Rapid heart rate
Symptoms usually start within 6 to 12 hours after the last opioid use. Symptoms can become severe, and getting medical assistance is necessary to ease into the next phases of treatment.
First, the medication Suboxone is an FDA-approved medication that is used to reduce withdrawal symptoms and opioid dependence. Suboxone comes in a film that dissolves under the tongue or between the gums and cheek.
After an initial screening and assessment, patients can start taking Suboxone to manage withdrawal symptoms.
MAT can be used in conjunction with other programs like:
Some people need inpatient withdrawal management. Withdrawal management is one of the first steps toward recovery and involves:
- Physical exam
- Custom treatment plan
- Medication for withdrawal symptoms
- Care by a licensed healthcare provider
- Discharge planning
In most cases, withdrawal management will be in conjunction with an intensive inpatient treatment program.
Intensive Residential Inpatient Treatment
Inpatient residential treatment programs are short-term inpatient programs that offer care in a structured environment. This program is best for people who have struggled with long-term addiction.
Inpatient programs take people out of their routine and environment, allowing them to focus more on recovery.
These programs usually last approximately 30 days, but this length can vary. People in the program get support with withdrawal symptoms and start with the 12-step recovery process.
Since many people with addiction have mental health issues, behavioral therapy is essential to treatment.
Individual therapy involves treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a type of talk therapy that’s very effective in treating addiction. CBT addresses negative thinking patterns and behaviors that lead to addictive patterns.
People learn to identify these patterns and understand how they see the world around them.
Along with individual therapy, people will go to group therapy meetings. Family therapy is also a key part of the program. Life skills training, education, and diploma support are also essential to these programs to help people be self-sufficient after treatment.
Some people need extra support to continue recovery once this short-term program ends. In these cases, they can continue in a supportive inpatient program.
Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP)
IOP programs are a step down from inpatient programs but still involve intensive treatment. People in an IOP will live at home but attend treatment 5 to 6 days a week for up to six hours daily. People will get help with individual and group therapy. They can also get assistance with MAT to manage cravings.
People will work on life skills and build confidence in functioning sober. Coping skills and stress management, like mindfulness, is also a component of this program.
Outpatient Treatment Programs
An outpatient program is a good option for anybody struggling with addiction but with a supportive home environment. Many people have work and family responsibilities they can’t take a break from.
This makes outpatient treatment a more manageable option. Outpatient treatment allows people to live at home and attend therapy during the week. Treatment times can vary, depending on the program and the person’s needs.
Outpatient treatment programs are also useful for those who have completed an inpatient program but still need support.
People in outpatient treatment have access to group therapy and individual counseling.
Relapse prevention and coping skills are also a huge focus.
Recovery housing offers people in recovery a stable living environment that allows them to transition from treatment to sober living.
Recovery housing gives people structured support but also allows them to face the challenges of the real world.
Requirements vary based on each program, but individuals in recovery housing are typically required to attend a certain amount of meetings per week and to maintain employment or volunteer work.
A big emphasis is placed on accountability and community, helping to set participants up for living on their own.
Veteran Treatment Programs
Don’t forget there are active duty and veteran treatment programs available for people who’ve served in the military.
Many service members face enormous emotional challenges, putting them at risk for SUD. Active duty service is also physically demanding, which can contribute to stress levels even more.
You can refer patients to various veteran programs like:
- Medication-assisted treatment
- Outpatient treatment
- Inpatient treatment
- Recovery support
- Recovery housing
- Withdrawal management
Treatment Programs for Young Adults
You can also refer young adults to Project AIM. This non-judgmental program encourages young adults to make positive lifestyle changes and change risky behaviors.
This program aims to reduce substance use by helping people improve coping skills and make healthier choices overall.
Talking to Your Patients About Addiction Treatment Options
Talking to your patients about their treatment options will become second nature over time.
If you’re looking for a reputable substance use treatment program to recommend, you don’t have to look further than Cenikor. We’re dedicated to offering affordable, high-quality treatment programs.
We help over 1,000 clients weekly and have facilities throughout Texas. We offer programs for adults, youth, and veterans. Our programs range from inpatient and outpatient services to MAT treatment and more.
Make sure to contact us today or take a look at all the treatment programs we provide.