Stages of Substance Abuse Treatment

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For centuries, medical teams have questioned what therapies are best suited for substance use disorders (SUDs). Then in 2006, the National Quality Forum published a document specifying the seven practices that organization found most effective in substance abuse treatment.

Marcie Bough, Pharm.D., senior manager of practice development and research for the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) said of the seven practices, “It is part of the movement toward the greater utilization of evidence-based care, which will improve the overall quality of treatment for patients.”

The Three Stages of Substance Abuse Treatment

The expert panel pulled together by the National Quality Forum (NQF) specified three essential substance abuse treatment stages, as well as seven best practices. Their assertion is that treatment is most effective when a continuum of care is provided to patients.

The three essential stages of substance abuse treatment are:

1. Screening, Assessment and Diagnosis

This stage involves the patient being screened for their individual needs and assessed to determine if they need treatment. The assessment also identifies any mental health or medical conditions that could impact treatment outcomes. Failure to identify co-occurring mental disorders can compromise overall treatment results.

2. Treatment and Recovery Planning

During this stage, a personalized plan is developed based on the assessment results. The plan includes setting realistic goals, guidance on lifestyle changes, and determining readiness for recovery. It’s important to customize treatment plans according to each person’s unique needs.

3. Treatment

This stage involves providing the services outlined in the treatment plan and promoting sustained recovery through ongoing support and counseling. It focuses on helping patients develop resilience to prevent relapse. Once treatment ends, it’s typical to include aftercare plans as well in order to help people remain sober over the long term.

By following these three stages, providers can ensure that patients receive the most effective and beneficial course of treatment.

Seven Best Practices for Any Substance Abuse Treatment

The NQF organization identified seven best practices of evidence-based treatment warranted for widespread adoption by substance abuse treatment centers:

  1. Routine screening for alcohol abuse should occur when patients are seen in general and mental healthcare settings, including emergency care, urgent care and primary care
  2. Whenever a patient has positive results to alcohol abuse screenings, a trained healthcare practitioner should provide a brief intervention
  3. When patients are assessed and diagnosed as having substance use disorders for drugs such as heroin, cocaine or other substances, they should receive written recommendations clearly prescribing treatment services, duration and quantity of each service
  4. Evidence-based psychosocial interventions should be provided to all patients referred to substance abuse treatment, including motivational enhancement therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, family/couples therapy, community reinforcement therapy, 12-step programs and contingency management
  5. Patients who are addicted to alcohol, or abuse heroin or other opioids, should be considered as candidates for addiction-focused pharmacotherapy, in addition to psychosocial treatment
  6. Patient engagement should be promoted by providers to improve rates of retention in substance abuse treatment programs
  7. Patients treated for cocaine use, other drug addiction or alcoholism should be provided options for long-term care

There are also programs and treatments that the NQF believes should be eliminated from treatment centers. Those are not backed by evidence, according to the NQF, and include:

  • Relaxation therapy
  • Individual psychodynamic therapy
  • Didactic group education
  • Biological monitoring of drug use
  • Detox without rehab
  • Unstructured group therapy
  • Confrontational approach
  • Discharge as a result of relapse

Substance Abuse Treatments At San Antonio Recovery Center

At San Antonio Recovery Center, we treat a wide variety of substances. No matter what substance you’ve abused, we’re ready to help you start your road to recovery. From alcohol to cocaine to prescription drugs, San Antonio Recovery Center has the treatment you need to succeed. Substance addictions treated at San Antonio Recovery Center include but aren’t limited to:

Finding Treatment That Utilizes Best Practices

If you or someone you love is abusing drugs or drinking too much, getting treatment is the right decision. It’s essential to ensure that treatment received involves the components specified as best practices by the NQF.

San Antonio Recovery Center provides the elements of treatment the NQF outlined as part of an affordable, comfortable and safe approach to overcoming alcoholism or drug addiction. Call San Antonio Recovery now at 866.957.7885 to learn more about available treatment methods and how these align with the NQF’s recommendations.



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