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Guidelines for Effective Drug Abuse Treatment

Posted on :  September 28th, 2016  |  By :  towardsrecovery

Effective drug abuse has been studied for decades and many discoveries have been made. Throughout the research, recommendations have been made regarding the way to properly treat patients. When you are looking for the best treatment options for yourself or a loved one, consider these guidelines as your recipe for success:

The treatment facility should understand that addiction is treatable because it affects the brain. There are chances that patients could relapse, but with a quality treatment facility, patients will not be criticized for doing so. Physicians and counselors will continue to support the recovering addict because the disease is understood.

Treatments need to be customized for each addict. The customization is dependent on the drugs that are abused and the personal issues the addict is struggling with. Drugs affect the brain in different ways and there are addicts who have dual diagnoses that require treatment, too. Treatment can include interventions, prescription medication, in-patient and/or outpatient programs, and different types of counseling.

It is always important that treatment should always be available – 24/7. When addicts are ready to walk into a facility, the facility needs to be open and available to accept them. Otherwise, addicts can quickly leave and never return. With drug addiction, it is always better to get help sooner rather than later.

Drug abuse treatment should always address the needs of the person. While it seems like it is the drug abuse that should be treated, the goal is to get the person (not the drug) back into a healthy way of life. Therefore, treatment needs to include the whole person – psychologically, medically, socially, legally, and vocationally. The treatment also needs to be sensitive to the gender and age of the patient as well as the patient’s ethnic background and cultural values.

Treatment needs to be given for the appropriate amount of time. Most addicts need at least 90 days before they are ready to go back to the real world. If patients are not given a long enough time to recover, there is a greater chance that they could relapse. If a patient has been addicted for a long time, it could take longer to recover. Good treatment facilities will have options for patients to work with if they need to make changes based on funding and time limitations.

Know that if you or a loved one enters into a drug treatment program, that program will include behavioral therapies. This type of therapy is designed to help the addict learn techniques to avoid needing to take drugs. The addict will learn how to resist the desire to do drugs by channeling energy elsewhere. Problem solving techniques and interpersonal skills are taught. Friend and family members might be included in the therapy, too.

It is also important to recognize that addicts are frequently given medications to help them manage the different stages of recovery. Fortunately, the medications are not given in isolation. Patients use them in conjunction with behavioral therapies and more. The medications that are often used with opioid abuse include methadone and naltrexone. With alcohol abuse, disulfiram and naltrexone are used. WIth nicotine addiction, patches, gum, or other medications are used. Physicians will customize the prescriptions to the addict’s need.

Since every addict is different, the treatment needs to be adjusted as the addict changes. Throughout the process of treatment, the addict will most likely move through psychotherapy, medication, instruction in life skills, family therapy, legal services, and more. Most addicts will go through a period of detox prior to other steps, since it is important to get the drug out of the body first. The treatment team will need frequent communication with the addict to know what changes are needed.

Finally, it is important to know that treatment does not need to be voluntary. Interventions can be made by family members, judges, employers, or other stakeholders so that people can get the care they need.

At Towards Recovery, we can help with all aspects of addiction treatment. Please contact us if you have any questions.

Facts about Drug Abuse and Treatment: What You Should Know

Posted on :  September 26th, 2016  |  By :  towardsrecovery

Treating drug abuse is not a subjective experience. Even though people often require customized programs, there is real science behind the choices that physicians and counselors make. There are many facts about drug abuse and treatment that are unknown outside of the circle of addicts and their caregivers. Drug abuse continues to grow as more and more substances are available. In order to prevent drug abuse and to understand why it happens, knowledge truly is power.

These are some important facts to understand regarding drug abuse and treatment:

  1. Drug abuse is technically classified as a disorder. The condition is defined by the use of a substance that creates a pattern of self destruction as well as serious distress that could also create tolerances and problematic withdrawal issues.
  2. In North America, close to 10% of the population has a recognized problem with drugs and has been diagnosed with a drug use disorder.
  3. Drug abuse disorder can happen to anyone at nearly any age.
  4. Drug abuse disorder can be paired with a mental health disorder. This is called a dual diagnosis.
  5. If a substance creates a high when ingested, it can become a drug of abuse. Some of the most common substances are household cleaners.
  6. Nearly all substances that are abused can create devastating changes in the lives of the people who ingest them and their circle of people. This occurs despite the fact that abused drugs have different effects on the body and the mind.
  7. The cause of drug abuse cannot be narrowed down to one reason. In fact, the causes are actually combined with social, psychological, and biological reasons. And, those reasons do not have to be from all three categories with every single person. Some people might simply have a social risk factor, while someone else could have a biological and psychology factor.
  8. Drug abuse symptoms vary based on the drug of abuse. But, many people who abuse drugs have some similar issues. They usually end up having legal issues, life-threatening experiences, troubles holding jobs, extreme tolerances to the drug of abuse, and the constant goal of obtaining the drug at all costs. Drug abuse becomes the way of life.
  9. Most addictive drugs that create strong highs affect the cognitive areas of the brain.
  10. The majority of people who are addicted to drugs still do not get the help they need, despite the fact that most communities have available programs.
  11. When an addict enters a treatment program, the steps include stopping the use of the drug, preventing any relapse, getting back into a healthy lifestyle through rehabilitation.
  12. For many addicts who are in treatment, the first stage of treatment often includes a medical detox program, like methadone, because withdrawal symptoms can be painful.
  13. The mental struggles with addiction also create difficulties with all aspects of treatment. The mind really does want the user to get back to the drug, even at the end stages of the treatment program.
  14. Dual diagnosis can make treatment more difficult, so the mental health issues are often incorporated into the addiction treatment program. Recovery is more difficult with a dual diagnosis, but many people have success.
  15. Most people who are involved in drug abuse treatment programs will continue to have moments when they feel the need to relapse. Some do and there is nothing wrong with returning to the treatment program to get back on track.

Understanding basic facts about drug abuse and the difficulties that come with treatment make it easier for everyone involved with an addict to understand what is really happening. If more people understand the truth about drug abuse treatment, then more people will be able to have successful recovery and lives away from those harmful substances.

If you have questions, please contact us at Towards Recovery Clinics.

Methadone Treatment Guidelines

Posted on :  June 22nd, 2016  |  By :  towardsrecovery

In Canada, there are thoughtful guidelines for methadone treatment plans. They are designed for the safety of the patient and to make the role of the physician and pharmacist clear and easy to follow. At Towards Recovery, we follow the guidelines that integrate all three parties with the patient’s needs coming before the needs of the physician and the pharmacist.

Working Together for Success

In order to move toward patient success, we work within our local community to help patients fight their opioid dependence. Each pharmacist that we work with follows the practices and policies that are determined by the various acts set forth by the Health Canada and the Drug and Pharmacies Regulations Act. Our physicians do the same, following the guidelines set forth about prescribing and dispensing methadone.

Our physicians and pharmacists work together to keep the methadone properly stored and dispensed so their patients are properly cared for. The pharmacists and physicians must keep the methadone safe until it has been given to the patient. The pharmacist must stay aware of any changes that occur in the prescription, too.

Treatment Options

There are several options for treatment that fall within the guidelines. The options are designed to help patients who are addicted to opioids. They include a structured opioid therapy, as well as a treatment program with either methadone or buprenorphine. There is also an option for abstinence treatment, too.

Methadone Options for Patients

Patients who choose the methadone option should have some indications. One of the first signs that methadone treatment should be used is that the patient failed in a structured opioid therapy. The patient injected, snorted, or took crushed tablets when they got high on opioids. Patients in treatment also manipulated the system to get opioids from several physicians or from sources on the street. The patients who benefit the most from methadone treatment have an addiction to opioids and other hard street drugs or alcohol.

When patients are using opioids to treat pain that was not caused by cancer, methadone can help them fight their addiction. When methadone is used as the treatment of choice, physicians and clinics will provide daily doses of methadone. The clinics will also provide daily urine screening and counseling to help patients relearn how to live without opioids in their lives. Prior to prescribing methadone, physicians need to consult with their provincial regulating body. The patient will keep lines of communication open between the clinic prescribing methadone and the patient’s primary care physician. The clinic and primary care doctor will work together to share diagnoses and other prescriptions.

Buprenorphine Treatments

Some patients are more successful with buprenorphine treatments instead of methadone. Some people are at risk of developing a toxicity to methadone, like the elderly, teen, and young adults. There are also some communities were methadone is not available for treatment therapies.

Buprenorphine can be used for patients who are addicted to opioids and to painkillers that are not prescribed for pain related to cancer. It is important that physicians are aware of the regulations in their communities before prescribing the treatment. Otherwise, the rules for buprenorphine are similar to those for methadone.

Structured Opioid Therapy

Some patients have success using a structured opioid therapy – also called SOT. This therapy includes using opioids that are not methadone or buprenorphine to treat addiction to painkillers. There are controls that physicians and clinics must use as well as written plans, patient education, and very closely monitored dispensing and monitoring.

If you have any questions about the guidelines for opioid treatments, please feel free to contact us at Towards Recovery. We can easily be reached via phone at 905-546-0050 or via email at

Assessing Addiction: Commonly Used Addiction Assessment Tools

Posted on :  May 31st, 2016  |  By :  towardsrecovery

In the world of assessing addiction, it is not realistic for a treatment center to just label people as addicted or not. Before choosing a treatment option, patients need to be properly assessed to see exactly what trouble they have and what the best course to successful recovery will be.

One of the best tools for assessing any type of psychological disorder, including addiction is the DSM-5. There are five tools that the American Psychological Association uses along with the DSM-5 before making decisions about treatment.

One is the Cross-Cutting Symptom Measures that help therapists see where to begin assessing, because so many disorders have common symptoms.

Another helpful tool is the Severity Measures tool which looks at disorders at closer level. There is a World Health Organization Disability Assessment Schedule that therapists can use to see how effective a patient is at getting through daily activities and managing healthy behaviors.

The DSM-5 also includes the Personality Inventories that looks at personality traits that can show things like psychoticism, detachment, and disinhibition. Since many people with addictive disorders have more than one psychological issue, these assessment tools are helpful for therapists to meet all of their patients’ needs.

Another useful tool for therapists who are looking for a diagnosis of substance abuse, the SBIRT from the SAMHSA is accurate and helpful. SBIRT is the acronym used for the Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment tool.  This screening tool is used by many healthcare professionals and it can be used in treatment centers, hospitals, and private practices or any other health care center that works with addiction treatment and recovery. The tool does require health care providers to talk to the patient prior to performing the assessment tool, so an intervention is required. When patients do show that they have a need for help, the health care provider does need to give a referral to that patient; this is the professional responsibility of the health care professional.

The DAST is another useful tool to screen whether or not a patient has an addiction to substances and requires treatment. The acronym DAST stands for Drug Abuse Screening Test. This is a quick little assessment tool that can be used for patients who do not believe they have a drug abuse problem. It comes in three options. There are 20-question and 10-question assessments and there is one designed for use with adolescents. The DAST does not screen for alcohol abuse. It has proven to be nearly 90% accurate in diagnosing substance abuse disorders.

Another useful tool is the DAI or Drug Attitude Inventory. This tool does not require the assessor to have any special training and it looks at the way the patient feels about medication. It might not be the best tool to see if patients are addicted to drugs, but it can assess their responses to prescription medications, especially those that are used to treat disorders. It can help healthcare professionals see if a pharmacological treatment will be the best options for patients. The assessment only takes about 10 minutes to complete.

One more useful tool is the DUSI-R. This looks at ten different areas of drug abuse. The tool is very effective and includes a reliability lie scale to determine the truthfulness of the patient. It looks at the severity of a drug abuse disorder that ranges from 0 to 100 percent. Healthcare professionals can then look at what needs to be done to effectively treat the disorder and to monitor the changes that are occurring during treatment. Patients can take the test on paper, in an interview, or on a computer. The tool does require that the patient know how to read at a fifth-grade level and takes approximately 30 minutes to complete.

If you have any questions or concerns about drug abuse or looking for methadone as a tool for recovery, please contact us at 905-527-2042 or email at

Who We Serve ?

  • Individuals using/abusing street narcotics (e.g. heroin).
  • Patients abusing prescription narcotics(i.e., Codeine, Talwin, Percocet/Percodan, Dilaudid, Morphine or Demerol, et cetera).
  • Individuals displaying any of the following behaviours: Compulsive drug use or drug seeking/craving.
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