Treatments for Alcohol and Other Drug Addiction
There are a range of alcohol and other drug related treatment and support services available in Australia, many of which are free. If you or someone you know is affected by addiction, the first step to getting help is talking to someone. Speaking with a counsellor or health professional can allow you to be provided with confidential advice, and facilitate referral to a treatment program that is right for you.
You can take this first step by visiting your general practitioner, calling the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline on 1800 250 015 or visiting Counselling Online to chat with a counsellor at any time.
The following is a brief overview of the common treatment and support services people can access to manage their addiction.
Counselling provides a supportive, safe and confidential environment in which you can discuss your alcohol or other drug use issues and concerns with a professional. Counsellors can offer support and strategies to help you make changes to take back control, as you move through your process of change. Counselling for loved ones affected by a person’s alcohol or other drug addiction is also available.
Often people will seek counselling on the phone, online or in person. Some counselling options may be done one-on-one and others might be in groups with people who are going through similar experiences. Research shows that these ‘talking’ therapies work and are effective in helping people with their addiction.
Peer support workers use their own lived experience of addiction, plus skills learned in formal training, to support others in their recovery journey. Peer support can provide people with authentic connections with people who demonstrate the possibility of change, and enables sharing of experiences in a way that inspires hope. Peer support can be provided one-on-one, or be delivered in a group format.
Admission to a residential detoxification (‘detox’) unit for a supervised withdrawal is sometimes recommended, to safely and more comfortably manage these withdrawal symptoms in a supported environment. In others instances withdrawal can be safely managed in your home environment with general practitioner and/or nursing oversight. Speak to your general practitioner for individualised advice about how your drug withdrawal can be best supported.
Attendance at a rehabilitation (‘rehab’) program can help people to maintain abstinence after attending a detox program. Rehabs provide an extended period of care to learn new coping skills and practice implementing them in a safe environment, and can help people establish a daily schedule that makes abstinence and a balanced lifestyle a priority so that they feel more equipped to avoid alcohol or other drugs when they return home.
Care and Recovery Coordination
For people who require addiction treatment alongside other services or programs (e.g. mental health care and housing support), assignment of a care and recovery coordinator may be beneficial to ensure that all service providers are working together to address a person’s needs in the community.
In some instances, medication may be considered to manage alcohol and opioid addictions. More information about these options is available on our pharmacotherapy service page.
Medication is usually not the only answer however and it is important to understand that medicines may also not work for everyone. Even when medication works it is good to remember that addiction is a complex disease, and recovery works best when any medication used is combined with support and other treatments.