How Does Addiction Treatment Work?

Wondering how addiction treatment works? Learn more about medication and psychological therapies.

There are many different modalities of addiction treatment that can take place in a variety of settings. Addiction treatment requires a life-long effort to remain focused on sobriety and to be accountable for one’s thoughts and actions. Relapse is a part of addiction treatment that can occur at anytime in a recovering addict’s life. To remain successfully sober, a recovering addict should receive counseling and attend support group meetings on a regular basis. The goal of addiction treatment is to help the addict maintain sobriety and manage any compulsion they may have to keep using drugs. This protocol of the addiction treatment process should answer the question, “How does addiction treatment work most effectively in an addict’s life.”

Addiction treatment may include medications and different types of psychological and behavioral therapies. A treatment plan should be designed to meet the unique problems and challenges that the individual addict faces. Medications are sometimes used to treat different types of drug addiction such as:

  • Naltrexone, Methadone and Buprenorphine to treat opioid addiction
  • Bupropion and Varenicline to treat nicotine addiction


Addiction to prescription stimulants and illegal stimulants like cocaine do not have medication treatments and are treated with behavioral therapies. Behavioral treatments are designed to encourage the addict to become actively engaged in his recovery process. They teach the recovering addict how to manage drug cravings, avoid triggers and temptations and utilize relapse prevention techniques. Behavioral therapy helps the addict improve communication and parenting skills, as well as healing and re-building relationships and improving family dynamics.

When an addict enters a rehab facility addiction treatment program, they are usually given individual and group counseling. Group therapy among peers helps to re-socialize the addict and assists in reinforcing thought and behavior patterns that promote sober living. The addiction rehab process utilizes contingency management therapy, which rewards the recovering addict for positive behaviors that promote abstinence and sober living. Behavior modification therapy approaches the deeper issues that the addict faces that may motivate him to use drugs. These issues are addressed and treated, as well as dysfunctional thought and behavior patterns that have to be removed and replaced with positive, healthy ones.

The addiction rehab process also addresses and treats any co-occurring mental disorders and physical health issues that the recovering addict is struggling with. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that the two most effective addiction treatments are medications and behavioral therapies. Both therapies have proven to be more effective when the two can be combined in the treatment of an individual. Medications can play an important role in addiction treatment recovery along with special services that the patient may need. Social services can help with legal, familial, social, financial and occupational issues that the addict faces. Psychoactive medications such as: anti-anxiety agents, anti-depressants, mood stabilizers and anti-psychotics can all help to improve the addiction rehab process for the recovering addict.

According to NIDA, addiction can be successfully treated, and addicts can return to a productive life among their family, workplace and society. Research statistics state that most addicts who stay in treatment for a long period of time will stop using drugs, decrease their criminal activity, and improve their social, occupational and psychological functioning. Some factors that may determine the outcome of addiction treatment are:

  • The nature and extent of an addict’s problems
  • If the treatments are appropriate to the problems
  • Services that may be available to the addict
  • The quality of interaction between the addict and his addiction treatment providers


Approximately 40 to 60% of drug addicts will relapse after they have received addiction treatment. This is applicable to other disorders also, such as hypertension. The patient may do well during the treatment but the hypertension may return after treatment has ended. When a recovering addict relapses it may signify that the treatment needs to be readjusted or reinstated, or that an alternative treatment may be needed. Each individual patient will progress through the addiction rehab process in their own time and they should not be compared to another patient.

Research confirms that addiction treatment that lasts for less than 90 days is usually limited in its effectiveness. The longer the patient stays in treatment the more successful his outcome should be. If you are wondering “how does addiction treatment work”, this information should be helpful to you. If you are interested in receiving addiction treatment for your self or a loved one, you should contact a drug rehab center to begin the addiction rehab process.



If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.