What is
Drug Treatment?

When someone receives treatment for a substance use disorder, one obvious goal is to help them stop using a substance that is damaging their life. But the ultimate goal of treatment is broader than that—to help those with substance use disorder heal themselves, their relationships and their lives. Effective treatment will help improve overall health by addressing emotional or mental health problems, strengthening family relationships and helping a person plan for the future.

There are many options that have been successful in treating drug addiction, including behavioral counseling and medication.

To find treatment, avoid scams and get tips for dealing with insurance companies, visit our Finding Treatment page.

To learn about the different types of treatment available, read the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids’ short guide, or download their e-book on creating a Roadmap to Recovery.

Learn more from Shatterproof on Substance Use Disorder Treatment, or find more information on treatment from the Addiction Policy Forum.

What is
Medication-Assisted Treatment?

When someone who is dependent on opioids undergoes detox and receives treatment, they typically feel sick and experience intense cravings when there are no opioids in their body. This is called “withdrawal” and it makes treatment and recovery difficult.

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) can help reduce cravings and withdrawal. This can help someone stop constantly thinking about the substance they crave and instead focus on getting better. Combined with behavioral therapy, counseling and other services, MAT increases the likelihood that a patient will remain in treatment and succeed in recovery.

There are three types of medications used in MAT:

  • Methadone tricks the brain into thinking it’s still getting the misused drug. However, the person is not getting high from it and feels normal, so withdrawal does not occur.
  • Buprenorphine suppresses and reduces cravings for the misused drug. It is available in pill form, a sublingual tablet that is placed under the tongue, and in other forms.
  • Naltrexone works differently than methadone and buprenorphine in the treatment of opioid dependency. If a person using naltrexone relapses and uses the misused drug, naltrexone blocks the euphoric and sedative effects of the misused drug and prevents feelings of euphoria. It is available in pill form and as a monthly shot.

Although MAT is one of the most effective forms of therapy for opioid use disorders, it is widely misunderstood. Separate fact from fiction by visiting the National Council for Behavioral Health’s webpage here, and watch the Partnership for Drug Free Kids’ overview of MAT here.

Learn more about Medication-Assisted Treatment from the organizations below:

What’s the Difference Between
Detox, Treatment and Recovery?


Detox, also known as detoxification or medical detoxification, is when harmful substances (toxins) are removed from the body. Specifically, it’s when drugs and alcohol are processed and leave the system. While detox on its own rarely helps patients achieve long-term recovery, many patients see it as a first step to successful recovery from their substance use disorders.


Treatment picks up where detox leaves off. While detox lasts hours or days, effective treatment lasts months or years. Treatment may include behavioral counseling, medication and other interventions that help the person undergoing treatment stop using a harmful substance and begin to heal themselves, their relationships and their lives.


Recovery is a life-long process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, learn to live a self-directed life and strive to reach their full potential.

What Are the Ten Guiding
Principles of Recovery?

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the ten guiding principles of recovery are these:

  1. Recovery emerges from hope
  2. Recovery is person-driven
  3. Recovery occurs through many pathways
  4. Recovery is holistic
  5. Recovery is supported by peers and allies
  6. Recovery is supported through relationships and social networks
  7. Recovery is influenced by a person’s culture
  8. Recovery is supported by addressing trauma
  9. Recovery involves individual, family and community strengths and responsibility
  10. Recovery is based on respect

Learn more from SAMHSA through the links below:

Learn more from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD):

Learn more from Shatterproof: