Most addiction treatments are designed to do more than simply reduce or remove alcohol or drug use – they focus on getting addicted people to change their lifestyle and even their core life values as a way of preventing return of the problems. Like treatments for other conditions, addiction treatments can also include medications and forms of talk therapy, but addiction treatments may be provided by a much wider range of personnel (clergy, counselors, social workers, physicians) than most other forms of healthcare.

No available therapy, program, medication or surgical procedure can remove recurrent desire or craving for alcohol and/or other drugs. Eliminating the desire to use drugs or alcohol is not an outcome of rehabilitation. A more reasonable expectation is that medication may reduce this urge and effective rehabilitation will teach a person what they must do to manage and contain their recurrent desires to use, much in the same way as a person with diabetes or hypertension must learn to manage their lives to control their illness.

It is best to think of three stages of addiction treatment, each with a different function in the larger picture of care:

  • Detoxification
  • Rehabilitation
  • Continuing Care