What is Addiction Treatment?

Addiction treatment is a systematic process of treating a person from substance craving along with the physical, mental, and behavioral damage caused by substance abuse. The treatment process varies for different people depending on the amount and kind of substance abused.

What are some Common Barriers for College Addiction Treatment?

Once the college student gains self-awareness and acceptance in needing external help in order to overcome substance abuse, addiction treatment comes in. However, students and others who are suffering from this illness know there are barriers in availing of treatment. These barriers can be specific or common to all patients.

Below are the common barriers for college addiction treatment.

  • The difficulty of looking for a quality treatment center
  • The repetitive failure of completing the treatment process
  • High availability and accessibility of substance supply
  • The social stigma of going to a treatment process
  • The overwhelming workload in school
  • Expensive treatment cost
  • No health insurance
  • The student denies the need of having the treatment and the disorder

What are some Treatment Processes for Substance Abuse?

The treatment process for substance abuse can include the following:

  • Detoxification: This process involves the removal or flushing out of the harmful substance from the system of the patient. The detoxification process can vary depending on the kind of substance ingested by the student.
  • Medication: These are prescription drugs used to treat the biological aspect of the disorder. Some of the actions of these medications include balancing hormones, enhancing brain communications, stabilizing muscle control and movement.
  • Therapies: Aside from treating the biological aspect of the patient, the unhealthy habits and behavior caused by substance abuse must be corrected. These therapy sessions aim to turn the negative behaviors into positive ones. Likewise, the patient is trained to formulate healthier means of coping with stress.

What are the Common Medications used in Addiction Treatment?

The kind of medication given to college students depends on the type of substance being abused. Below are some of the common medications given to cure abuse of these substances.


Currently, there are three medications approved by the FDA in treating alcohol abuse. A new one which is

Topiramate is considered the fourth FDA-approved medication for this disorder.

  • Naltrexone: This medication is used to inhibit relapse from excessive alcohol drinking. It blocks the opioid receptors in the brain which is responsible for craving alcohol and the euphoric feeling from it.
  • Disulfiram: This medication inhibits the metabolism of alcohol. The effects of this drug cause an uncomfortable feeling to the student which discourages the student from alcohol drinking.
  • Acamprosate: The effect of this medication is to minimize the signs of alcohol withdrawal. Some signs of alcohol withdrawal include anxiety, irritability, and inability to sleep or insomnia.


The function of the medications for opiate abuse is to block the opioid receptor site of the brain which craves for the substance and give a rewarding feeling.

Some of the common medications to treat the abuse of this substance include the following:


The FDA-approved drugs for treating nicotine abuse include varenicline (Chantix) and bupropion (Zyban). These two medications operate differently in treating nicotine abuse. Likewise, other Nicotine substitutes are given to students which include lozenges, gum, nicotine patch, and spray. Overall, these medications become more effective when paired with therapy sessions for the patient.


The common medications for the abuse of this substance are the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). The main goal of these medications is to balance the serotonin level in the brain of a student considering that abuse of ecstasy disrupts its balance.

What are the Common Therapies used in Addiction Treatment?

The overall effectiveness of the treatment process can be further enhanced by incorporating specific therapies for the patient. The medications prescribed address the biological treatment while therapies correct the unwanted behavior developed by abusing the substance.

Here are some of the common therapies given to students and other patients suffering from substance abuse.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

This therapy is almost applicable to all kinds of substance abuse such as alcohol, marijuana, ecstasy, Adderall, and Ritalin. The main principle of this therapy states that unwanted behaviors are a product of one’s negative thoughts.

In this intervention, the therapist will guide the student in identifying those negative feelings which pushes one to do substance abuse. Likewise, the therapist will look into the wrong thinking of the student of how the abuse of substance relieves the pain and negative thoughts felt.

Contingency Management

This therapy is applied to students or patients suffering from stimulants, marijuana, opioids, alcohol, and tobacco abuse. This approach can also be called the reward system approach. In this intervention, the therapist will give the patient or student tangible rewards for avoiding the use of the substance. There are three methods under this therapy.

  • Natural Contingency: This is the natural happiness felt by the student or patient from successfully avoiding the substance. Other natural rewards from this intervention can be improved relationships and health.
  • Voucher-based Reinforcement: In this method, the student or patient receives a voucher as a prize for getting a negative result of the drug test. The amount of these vouchers are small but consistent abstinence will mean more accumulation of vouchers which later can be used to buy something which helps in the recovery process.
  • Prize incentives: This is similar to the voucher system but instead of giving vouchers, the patient joins in a lottery contest. For every negative result of the drug test, the patient is allowed to join the lottery to win rewards.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

This therapy is patterned from CBT as a means to cover its limitations. This intervention is mostly applied to the following disorders: anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, and bipolar disorder.

The main principle of this therapy is that mental disorders are a product of both emotional distress and the environment which aggravates it. This intervention trains the patient to learn four skills:

  • Self-awareness: The patient is trained to be fully conscious of one’s condition.
  • Interpersonal Effectiveness: The patient's social communication skills are enhanced in preparation for its immersion back to society.
  • Emotional Control: The patient is trained to identify triggers and how to positively cope with it.
  • Distress Management: The patient is trained to accept and manage a specific level of stress without making huge actions to cope with it.

Motivational Interviewing

The main goal of this intervention is to help the patient find one’s personal factor to boost self-motivation in getting better from substance abuse and mental disorder. This therapy involves three steps.

  • Autonomy: The therapist emphasizes to the patient one’s responsibility in making decisions.
  • Evocation: This is already the process of making positive changes done by the patient. The patient must strongly adhere to one’s commitment and goal of getting better.
  • Collaboration: There is an interaction between the therapist and the patient. As the patient shares one’s perception, the therapist listens and empathizes with the patient. This is more positive compared to challenging the patient to readily make an action.

Family Therapy

Aside from self-support, the patient also needs support from the outside, particularly the family. This intervention incorporates the role of the family in speeding up recovery by providing moral support and comfort to the patient. Likewise, this intervention helps to resolve communication conflicts within the family. Likewise, the family can also join residential treatments of the patient.

What are the Treatment Programs for College Substance Abuse?

In general, the student can have two options: outpatient and inpatient treatment program. The choice greatly to be availed depends on several factors such as financial capacity, personal preference, and academic status. Here is an overview discussion about the two treatment programs.

Inpatient or Residential Treatment Program

The patient is placed inside a secure, safe, and comfortable treatment facility that is away from all temptations and risk factors for substance abuse. The minimum duration for this treatment program is 28 days and it provides a 24-hour service to the patient. The setbacks for this treatment program include cost, being away from family, friends, and the school.

Outpatient Treatment Program

For this program, the student is still able to do regular things like going to school, seeing friends, and family. Instead of going inside a treatment facility, the patient must diligently visit one's therapist or behavioral counselor on a regularly scheduled appointment. Likewise, the patient is given the sole freedom of whether to diligently comply with the treatment or not.

The benefits of this program include being able to be in a regular setting and less expensive compared to residential treatment. Meanwhile, the setbacks of this option include more prone to risk factors, temptations, and the chance of not diligently meeting scheduled therapy sessions.