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Trends in Substance Abuse Treatment

In spite of the steady climb in substance abuse rates over the years, certain factors nonetheless influence the likelihood a person will abuse drugs or alcohol for any length of time. Ongoing research shows genetic factors to play a central role in determining who is most susceptible to substance abuse.

Trends in substance abuse treatment continue to move away from traditional “cookie-cutter” treatment models towards more individualized substance abuse treatment approaches. Rather than relying on standard medications to address the physical effects of addiction, trends in substance abuse treatment look to combine two or more medication treatments into a single treatment approach.

Newly developed addiction vaccines have also become an area of interest within the addictions’ field. Ultimately, trends in substance abuse treatment are working towards long-term treatment solutions that offer recovering addicts the best chance at long-term abstinence.

Effects of Substance Abuse

Drug and alcohol addictions have a far-reaching effect on the brain’s ability to regulate bodily functions. According to the U. S. Department of Health & Human Services, these effects impair a person’s ability to function on multiple levels.

The effects of substance abuse essentially trap addicts inside a disease-ridden mentality that’s solely dependent on the drug’s ability to get them through the day. Over time, these conditions work to warp a person’s overall brain functions to the point where everything begins and ends with getting and using drugs. Trends in substance abuse treatment work towards treating the disease-aspect of addiction and helping addicts restore a sense of self-determination and purpose.

Individualized Treatment Approaches

Addiction’s designation as a disease-like state has brought with it the standard medical practices used in the treatment of actual diseases like diabetes and heart disease. As specific treatment protocols exist for most every disease condition, physician’s commonly use the same treatment approach when treating a particular disease type.

The chemical changes resulting from substance abuse require a more personalized treatment approach in order to address the individual components that drive a person to use drugs. As a result, trends in substance abuse treatment are more geared towards an individualized treatment model as opposed to a “one-size-fits-all” approach.

Combination Medication Treatments

treating addiction

Medication therapies were an important development in opiate addiction treatment.

While methadone and buprenorphine medications are proven effective treatments for opiate addiction, medications for stimulant and marijuana addictions have yet to be developed. Even in cases where medication treatments do exist, no one medication works for everyone.

Rather than trying to develop or use single medications to address the widespread effects of addiction, substance abuse treatment programs have seen positive outcomes from combining two or more medications during the course of treatment.

Vaccines

Vaccines offer an effective method for immunizing the body against certain disease-causing agents, such as measles and smallpox. Likewise, trends in the substance abuse treatment field look to “immunize” a person against certain types of addiction.

In effect, any one “addiction vaccine” would help the body produce a certain type of antibody that targets a specific drug type. In turn, these antibodies prevent the drug from accessing the brain by changing its chemical make-up while it’s still in the bloodstream. NicVAX, a vaccine currently under development, has shown promising results in reducing the cravings and withdrawal symptoms associated with nicotine addiction.

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