Different types of treatment work for different people. It depends on how bad the drug problems are and what drugs the person is addicted to. It also depends on the person because each person is different. Treatment is not "one size fits all." What works for someone might not work for someone else. It's important for people to talk with their doctor about a treatment plan that's just right for them.

Some treatment happens in hospitals or in clinics where the person stays for days, weeks, or months. Other treatment happens during the day at clinics and doctor's offices, and the person does not stay overnight. Medicines and counseling are both used to treat drug addiction. Medicines can help people stop using alcohol, tobacco, heroin, and some prescription pain relievers.

  • Some medicines can help people feel less bad when they first quit.
  • Other medicines can help people stay off these drugs.
  • Some medicines help people choose not to drink. If you drink alcohol, there’s a medicine that makes you throw up and feel sick.
  • Other medicines make people want the drug less.
  • Some medicines block the high that people get when they take the drug. That can also make it easier to quit.

There are no medicines to treat addiction to some drugs, but medicine can be used to help with uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal. Treatment for addictions that include medicines should also include counseling when possible. Counseling can be one-on-one, in a group, and sometimes as a family.

Talking about your feelings with counselors (people trained to listen and help you solve personal problems), called behavioral counseling, is also an important type of treatment. It can be just between you and a counselor. Sometimes family members will join the counseling session to help solve family problems. Or you might talk with other people in treatment, in a group led by a counselor. People taking medicines benefit the most when they combine the medicine with counseling. But medicine alone can still be helpful if counseling isn't available.

Talking helps people with addictions:

  • understand why they got addicted
  • see how drugs changed their behavior
  • learn how to deal with problems so that they don't choose to escape by getting high
  • learn to avoid places, people, and situations where they might be tempted to use drugs

Counseling can be hard to do at first, but meetings become shorter and happen less often the longer the person is drug-free. Even after treatment ends, people still may need help. There are many kinds of help that people can get, such as drug-specific support groups, computer programs for counseling that doesn't take place in person, and recovery housing.