What are the types of addiction treatment?

Addiction treatment is multidisciplinary, integrative and tailored to each patient with great consideration for his or her needs and desires. Accordingly, the three main types of treatment are directed at different aspects of addiction yet complement each other. They are medical care, psychological therapy and social support.


Medical Treatment

  The goals of medical treatment are detoxification from the addictive substance, relapse prevention, and addressing the mental and physiological health issues related to the addiction.   Detoxification: This stage is often marked by symptoms of great discomfort, such as sleep disturbances, restlessness, mood swings, digestive issues and more. Withdrawal symptoms can be very dangerous in some cases — for example, unsupervised withdrawal from alcohol, especially in people with physical illness, can provoke seizures. Therefore, the goal of medical treatment during this phase is to minimize the risks of withdrawal and alleviate its symptoms. Providing this type of relief is critical for recovery because it is the suffering caused by withdrawal symptoms that often triggers relapse among addictive substance users. Preventing relapse: Currently, there are effective medications that help prevent relapse during withdrawal from three types of addictive substances: nicotine, alcohol and opioids. Treatment of related disorders: There is often the need to treat the various disorders associated with addiction, such as ADHD, depression and anxiety, as well as physical illnesses, such as lung, liver and other diseases.  

Psychological Treatment

  The psychological treatment of addiction involves several stages. The goal of therapy, in the first stage, is to help motivate addicted individuals to change their behavior, and to boost their confidence in achieving this change. The second stage of therapy focuses on changing behavior – specifically, changing patterns of thinking related to the addiction, and learning how to cope with the cravings to return to the addictive substance or behavior. Psychological therapy also aims to help individuals deal with negative emotions and feelings, such as those that underlie the development of addiction and those that arise as the result of addiction. Therapy can help patients regulate their emotional states, as well as cope with low self-esteem, traumatic experiences and post-traumatic stress disorder, which is common among people who suffer from addiction. In addition, psychological therapy may improve the effectiveness of medication treatment, by promoting compliance to the medication regimen. Therapy can take place in either individual or group settings, and its objectives may vary according to the different stages of treatment.  

Psychological therapy has various approaches. For example:


  • Psychodynamic therapy: Deals with understanding the mind and personality, assists in situations of emotional difficulties, distress, and dysfunctional behavior.
  • Motivational approach: Directed at motivating individuals to change their addictive behavior, and boosting their confidence in achieving this change;
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): Focuses on changing patterns of thinking and behavior in order to stop addiction and its related habits and behaviors;
  • Mindfulness: An approach that helps people pay attention to their own physical and mental experiences occuring in the present moment, thereby alleviating stress, reducing cravings for addictive substances, and more.


Social Support

  In addition to medical and psychological care, there is also treatment in the form of social support, which is an essential component in any treatment of addiction. The goal of this treatment is to help rebuild the social environment of addicted individuals in all aspects of life.  

Social support treatment includes:


  • Couples and family therapy
  • Self-help groups, such as NA, AA, etc.
  • Academic and vocational rehabilitation
  • Building a social support network
  • Social rehabilitation (building a social group that does not revolve around the addictive substance or behavior, and improving social attachment patterns)