Too many people do not realize what a colossal problem drug abuse is in the United States today. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy concluded that Americans spent at least 57.3 billion dollars on illicit drugs between 1988 and 1995, money that could have been used to support the economy. Addiction is a severe, recurring heath problem for men, women, teenagers, and even adolescents of all races and backgrounds. However, thanks to today's equipment and medicine, patients can conquer their dependence and live ordinary, productive lives.
The fundamental goal of all treatment programs is to enable the patient to permanently abstain from substance abuse; short-term goals are to minimize the medical and social consequences of drug use, and help recovering addicts function normally in a clean society. Over the past few decades, studies conducted by the National Institute of Drug Abuse show that treatment does in fact work to reduce drug intake. Some medications are also used to suppress the effects of withdrawal and to minimize cravings.
There are several types of programs available to substance abusers. Methods that last less than six months are short-term programs, and are generally less effective than longer sessions. Residential therapy and drug-free outpatient therapy are two short-term techniques. An example of a long-term method would be methadone maintenance outpatient treatment for heroin addicts or residential therapeutic community treatment.
Short-term residential programs are often referred to as chemical dependency units. Such programs arose in the mid-1980s, with alcohol and cocaine abusers as the primary patients. A three- to six-week inpatient treatment phase is involved, as well as extended outpatient therapy or participation in self-help groups.
Drug-free outpatient therapy is available for patients who regularly visit a clinic, however it does not include any kind of medications.