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Addiction: Your Treatment Options

No single treatment for addiction works for everyone. The treatment that's best for you can depend on many factors. For many people, treatment may be a combination of medicine, behavior change, therapy, lifestyle changes, and support.


Medicines can help with withdrawal symptoms. They can also reduce cravings for the addictive substance. They can blunt its feel-good effects. For example:

  • Methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone are used for heroin and other opioid addiction.

  • Acamprosate, disulfiram, and naltrexone are used for treating alcohol addiction.

  • Bupropion, varenicline, or nicotine replacement therapy can help with nicotine addiction.

These medicines have proved to be quite helpful for people trying to overcome an addiction.

Man talking to healthcare provider.

Behavior change treatment

  • Motivational Interviewing. This is a type of counseling that encourages you to change your behavior. The goal is to explore and resolve any mixed feelings you have about quitting drug or alcohol use. The therapist helps you figure out and focus on your personal reasons for wanting to change.  

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). In this therapy, you figure out your problem behaviors. And you learn ways to change those behaviors. For example, if anger or stress makes you want to drink, a therapist can help you learn healthy ways to manage those feelings.

  • Community reinforcement approach (CRA). This therapy uses vouchers help you follow a drug- or alcohol-free lifestyle.  With each clean urine sample, you get a voucher to use for a reward.  This helps you stay drug- or alcohol-free while you learn new life skills.

  • Community reinforcement and family training (CRAFT). This therapy counsels and trains your family. The therapist teaches them how to motivate you to seek or continue treatment. This therapy also helps your family recognize family situations that may encourage you to drink or use drugs. 

  • Mutual support groups. These groups are run voluntarily by non-health care professional people. Their purpose is to support each other emotionally and socially by sharing their experiences with substance abuse and mentoring others through the recovery process. Many of these groups are based on the 12-step recovery model, and have sessions available for every type of addiction (for example, AA or Alcoholics Anonymous; NA or Narcotics Anonymous).

  • Individualized drug counseling (IDC). This commonly practiced form of therapy typically incorporate the disease model of addiction and the spiritual dimension of recovery while also focusing on behavioral change through participation in 12-step programs.

Online Medical Reviewer: Fraser, Marianne, MSN, RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Perez, Eric, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 2/1/2017
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