Importance of evidence-based treatment in curing loved ones’ opioid addiction

Importance of evidence-based treatment in curing loved ones’ opioid addiction

Discovering that a loved one is suffering from an addiction can be devastating. Family members not only find it difficult to cope with the condition but they are also left wondering what to do. Multiple sources of advice, such as treatment groups and counseling programs, often have divergent views on treatment options. More importantly, much of this counseling may not be backed by sufficient scientific research. In many U.S. states, a very high level of education or professional qualification is not a prerequisite for becoming an addiction counselor. Even an associate degree can warranty certificate for an addiction counselor. 

Majority of people battling addiction do not receive treatment which is based on scientific research, says a study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. According to the study, an insignificant number of people receive interventions or treatments that are scientifically proven to be effective in dealing with addiction. During the research, it was found that most addiction treatment providers are not medical professionals and lack the understanding, qualifications and expertise which are essential to provide comprehensive evidence-based services, including medical care, structured counseling and therapy.

Many mental health experts offer advice based on their personal and clinical experiences, not research-based data. The result is that families following such counseling or guidance may be exposing their loved ones to much more harm and delay in genuine, effective treatment. Lack of good treatment methods also leads to a greater risk of opioid overdose and death.

Scientifically validated therapies are not being used to their full potential

A vast body of modern global research, including data sets, systematic reviews, clinical drug trials and oral therapies, is available in the field of addiction. However, the level of treatment which continues being offered is outdated and anecdotal, as some researchers believe. Moreover, some therapists adopt an approach that may not be effective in treating opioid addiction – family members of drug-dependent members may not be aware of this fact.

Adhering to evidence-based treatments can help families in changing commonly-held views on opioid addiction treatment. For individuals battling severe opioid addiction, family members need to ensure that the patients are provided continuous care through support groups or individual counseling sessions that may last as long as they are not completely treated. Admitting such individuals into a rehab program that provides holistic treatment basis an individual’s need and condition can reduce the risk of relapse and help a person regain control of his/her life.

Thorough research is imperative before suggesting treatment options

Family members, who will probably be overwhelmed with information and advice, need to do sufficient background research before suggesting recovery options to their loved ones. The following points merit consideration:

  • Investigating all underlying issues is important: In many cases, opioid addiction occurs simultaneously with another mental illness, including depression, anxiety, personality disorders and posttraumatic stress syndrome. Affected individuals may have also experienced some form of trauma or abuse during their childhood. A careful analysis of such issues is necessary to ensure that effective treatment is provided.
  • Confrontational approaches are counterproductive: Gentle persuasion and compassion works better than coercive measures such as threats and ultimatums. Incarceration has also proven to be ineffective as a measure for treating heroin addicts. Family members may, at times, need to bail out their loved ones for felony.
  • Treatment options backed by scientific research are most effective: To get an independent evaluation, it is recommended to visit a psychiatrist who doesn’t use a one-size-fits-all approach. The credentials of a certified counselor should be verified before hiring his/her services. Relapse-prevention medication like methadone or buprenorphine (Suboxone) should be used. Family members can also get training in how to use naloxone, commonly used to block the effect of opioids.

Family members also need to keep in mind that people addicted to opioids can face a relapse and this should not be construed as failure of the treatment. The nature of opioid addiction is such that it may take a significantly long time before individuals can sustain themselves without the addictiveness of the drug. However, it is critical to note that opioid relapses can be fatal, thereby underscoring the need to continue preventive medications at all.

Helping a loved one battle addiction requires extreme care and access to treatment backed by scientific evidence. At the California Drug Addiction Helpline, you will get to know about specialized treatment options as well as the best drug rehab centers in California. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-980-1946 or chat online with our specialists to know more about the best rehab facilities in California.