Substance Use Disorder- Your Treatment Options

Substance Use Disorder: Your Treatment Options

Substance use disorder can be treated in many ways. No single treatment works for every person. What may work best for you can depend on many factors. For most people, treatment may be done with more than 1 tool. These can include medicine, therapy, lifestyle changes, and support. Treatment can take place in different types of care settings.

Man talking to healthcare provider.


Medicines can help with withdrawal symptoms. They can reduce your cravings for the substance. They can blunt its feel-good effects. These medicines have proved to be quite helpful for people trying to stop using a substance that is addictive.

Treatment medicines include:

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Type of substance Medicine
For heroin and other opioid use disorders




For alcohol use disorder (alcoholism)




For nicotine withdrawal



Nicotine replacement therapy 

Therapy and support

  • Motivational interviewing. This is a type of counseling. It helps you to change your behavior. The goal is to explore and resolve any mixed feelings you have about quitting drug or alcohol use. The therapist helps you figure out and focus on your personal reasons for wanting to change.  

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). In CBT, you work on your problem behaviors. You learn ways to change those behaviors. For example, if anger or stress makes you want to drink, a therapist can help you learn healthy ways to manage those feelings.

  • Community reinforcement approach (CRA). This therapy uses vouchers help you follow a drug- or alcohol-free lifestyle.  With each clean urine sample, you get a voucher to use for a reward.  This helps you stay sober while you learn new life skills.

  • Community reinforcement and family training (CRAFT). This therapy counsels and trains your family. The therapist teaches them how to motivate you to seek or continue treatment. This therapy also helps your family spot family situations that may cause you to drink or use drugs. 

  • Mutual support groups.These groups are run by peers who are also in recovery. Their purpose is to support each other emotionally and socially. This is done by sharing their experiences with substance use and recovery. Peers mentor others through the recovery process. Many of these groups are based on 12-step process. There are groups for many types of addiction. Examples include Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA).

  • Individualized drug counseling (IDC). This is a common type of therapy. It addresses addiction as a disease. It also works on spiritual growth and behavior change through a 12-step process.

Treatment settings

Your healthcare provider will look at your needs. He or she will advise which of these can work best for you:

  • Outpatient care. This may include weekly counseling sessions in a healthcare office. Or you may have more types of sessions that happen more often. This is called intensive outpatient treatment.
  • Inpatient care. This may include a hospital stay to manage withdrawal with medicine. Or you may go to a residential treatment program.