13 Principles of Treatment

These 13 principles, from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, have been adapted to apply to CAT’s treatment philosophy.

1.  Addiction is a complex but treatable disease that affects brain function and behavior. 

CAT understands that continued use of drugs may change the way one’s brain functions, and these changes may persist long after drug use has ceased.  This helps explain why drug abusers are at risk for relapse even after long periods of abstinence and despite the potentially devastating consequences.

2. No single treatment is appropriate for all individuals.

CAT matches treatment settings, interventions and services to each individual's particular problems and needs. This is critical to his or her ultimate success in returning to productive functioning in the family, workplace and society.

3. Treatment needs to be readily available.

Addiction is known as “the disease of immediacy.” Treatment must be immediately available and readily accessible. CAT offers quick access to treatment services for all patients and their loved ones.

4. Effective treatment attends to multiple needs of the individual, not just his or her drug use.

To be effective, treatment must address the individual's drug use and any associated medical, psychological, social, vocational and legal problems.

5. Remaining in treatment for an adequate period of time is critical for treatment effectiveness.

The appropriate duration for an individual depends on his or her problems and needs. Research indicates that for most patients, significant improvement is reached at about three months in treatment though depending on the patient it may take more or less time. The CAT approach to treatment is designed to engage and keep patients in treatment the proper amount of time.

As with other chronic illnesses, relapses into drug use can occur during or after successful treatment episodes. CAT's Aftercare Program can help with weekly group meetings for patients who have completed short-term residential treatment. These group meetings focus on peer support and relapse prevention. Patients are also encouraged to participate in self-help support groups outside of CAT both during and following treatment.

6. Counseling (individual and/or group) and other behavioral therapies are critical components of effective treatment for addiction.

In therapy, patients seek to accomplish a variety of goals. They address issues of motivation, build the skills to resist drug use, replace drug-using activities with constructive and rewarding nondrug-using activities, and improve their problem-solving abilities. CAT's behavioral therapy program also assists with interpersonal relationships and the individual's ability to function in the family and community.

7. Medications are an important element of treatment for many patients, especially when combined with counseling and other behavioral therapies.

Supportive services such as counseling, mental health and other medical services are critical for aiding recovery in patients receiving medication-assisted treatment. CAT's doctors and professional staff are trained in the latest treatment medications, including opioid addiction treatments like Suboxone® and Vivitrol®.

8. An individual's treatment and services plan must be assessed continually and modified as necessary to ensure that the plan meets the person's changing needs.

A CAT patient may require varying combinations of services and treatments during the course of care and recovery. In addition to counseling or psychotherapy, a patient at times may require medication, additional medical services, family therapy, parenting instruction, vocational rehabilitation and/or social and legal services. It is critical that the treatment and its approach be appropriate to the individual's age, gender, ethnicity and culture.

9. Addicted or drug-abusing individuals with coexisting mental disorders should have both disorders treated in an integrated way.

Because addictive disorders and mental disorders have been known to co-exist in the same individual, patients of either condition should be assessed for the potential co-occurrence of the other disorder and treated if necessary.

10. Medical detoxification is only the first stage of addiction treatment and by itself does little to change long-term drug use.

Medical detoxification safely manages the acute physical symptoms of withdrawal associated with stopping drug use. While detoxification alone is rarely sufficient to help addicts achieve long-term abstinence, for some individuals it is a strongly indicated precursor to effective drug addiction treatment. CAT's medically monitored in-patient detoxification program offers 24-hour medical care to support patients through the withdrawal experience.

11. Treatment does not need to be voluntary to be effective.

CAT has found that the motivation provided through support networks can ease the treatment process. Sanctions or enticements in the family, employment setting or criminal justice system can significantly increase both treatment admission and retention rates, as well as the success of drug treatment interventions.

12. Possible drug use during treatment must be monitored continuously.

Relapses into drug use can occur during treatment. By monitoring a patient's drug and alcohol use during treatment, such as through urinalysis or other tests, CAT can help the patient withstand urges to use drugs. With effective monitoring, the individual's CAT treatment plan can be adjusted as needed.

13. Treatment programs should provide assessment for infectious diseases, as well as counseling to help patients modify or change behaviors that place themselves or others at risk of infection.

CAT counselors are specially trained to detect and help patients avoid high-risk behavior. Our nurses can also help people who are already infected manage their illness.

Source: Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment from the National Institute on Drug Abuse