Treatment options for substance misuse 

Worried about your substance use but unsure what lies ahead in the journey to sobriety? Here are some recovery options you may encounter. 

Starting your substance use recovery can feel incredibly challenging, but the progress you make will be more than worth it. The first step is understanding what treatment options are out there so you can make an informed decision about what may work best for you. 

  1. Talking therapies 

You may be referred to a type of talking therapy to help you understand your reasons for substance abuse, or to manage your mental health better.  

One type of therapy is called cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), and it’s thought to be particularly effective in treating addiction. CBT helps you identify unhelpful thought patterns and gives you the tools to successfully change your thoughts and behaviours.  

You’ll often be referred to talking therapy alongside other treatment options, but it can also be an effective tool when used alone, especially when maintaining sobriety in the long-term.  

  1. Medication 

Depending on the drug used, you may be offered medication to help you break the habit. For example, heroin users can be offered heroin substitutes (like methadone) to help them gradually detox from heroin with the support of a key worker, who will supervise throughout and after treatment has stopped.  

Where there’s no drug substitute, patients might be given medication to help with the side effects of drug withdrawal – for example, cocaine users may be offered sleeping pills to help them with their sleep. 

  1. Support groups 

There are many self-help groups that can support people with their drug use, and a lot of people find their mix of talking and support from peers particularly effective. Narcotics Anonymous is one example of a support group that exists to help people with substance use issues no matter what substance is used. They also offer online meetings.  

There are many substance-specific groups too, including Cocaine Anonymous and Marijuana Anonymous. 

Support groups are free to attend and don’t require you to talk or share any information if you’re not comfortable doing so. But seeing people who have successfully beaten their addiction and hearing them talk may inspire you to take action. 

  1. Rehabilitation centres 

Rehabilitation centres (also known as rehab) are frequently portrayed in the media as a good option for beating addiction. In reality, it’s often the last resort if you’re accessing NHS services unless your drug-related problems are severe or complicated.  

Rehab centres are residential facilities, where patients receive intense treatment for a set period of time – the exact time varies, but can be as long as 90 days.  

Patients will typically undergo addiction counselling, a supervised detox and will take part in group activities. Rehab programmes can be incredibly effective, as everything you need to break your addiction is provided, and you also receive the support of your peers. But with the average rehab centre costing up to £13,000 for a month-long stay, it’s not difficult to see why this option is usually out of reach for ordinary people. 

If you’re worried about your substance use, your first step should be to get in touch with your GP. They’ll be able to point you in the right direction of local services and can advise about what you can do in the meantime.