The opioid epidemic continues to rage across the country and the problem seems to be getting worse at alarming rates, killing as many as 115 people every day. An influx of fentanyl, a highly potent synthetic analog, has caused a spike in overdose death rates. Between 2013 and 2016, the drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl has increased by 88 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). One of the most important ways to combat the addiction and overdose crisis is to increase access to quality addiction treatment. And one place with a wide range of treatment options available in Florida. Florida, especially South Florida, has been called the drug treatment capital of the United States because of the plethora of addiction treatment centers between Palm Beach County and Miami. The area included a vast metropolitan area that stretches for more than 100 miles along Florida’s Atlantic coast and it’s dotted with addiction treatment centers and rehab facilities.

However, not all treatment centers are created equal, and finding one for your specific needs can be a challenge if you don’t know where to begin. However, there are a number of factors to consider that can help you find an effective treatment program. Plus, there are people that can help you make an informed decision about the type of treatment that might help lead you to a life free from active addiction.

Florida’s Drug Treatment History

As the opioid crisis grew, especially within the last decade, more and more people were looking to the sunshine and sandy beaches as an incentive to travel to Florida for addiction rehab. In response, more and more treatment centers opened their doors in the Sunshine State. However, the boom soon led to bust when some unscrupulous centers were caught using unsafe or unethical practices. Ineffective treatment centers brought in people from out of state that were not given the help they needed, which led to a rise in Florida’s addicted population. The result was a negative stigma around addiction treatment and centers that serve people with substance use disorders.

Today, Florida lawmakers and insurance companies alike are cracking down on addiction treatment in the hopes that reform can forge a path to more high-quality treatment across the state. Most recently, a congressional committee was formed to investigate different aspects of the opioid crisis, especially relating to the quality and practices in the addiction treatment industry. The House Energy and Commerce Committee continues to look into ways legislation can advance the fight against opioids. One of their goals, according to their website, is to “continue investigations into several key issues that have contributed to this growing epidemic.”

As the addiction epidemic grows and oversight continues to reform addiction treatment, rehab hubs like South Florida may be useful in advancing addiction treatment and research. Some of the longest standing industry-leading treatment centers are located in Florida and serve as an example of what results-driven treatment should look like.

Why Florida Addiction Treatment?

South Florida has some of the highest quality treatment centers and pioneers in the pursuit of evidence-based, results-driven treatment. For instance, the Palm Beach Institute has been opened for 45 years and was the first private addiction treatment center opened in the State. This industry leader is a testament to the type of top quality treatment some Florida addiction treatment centers offer, including experienced medical treatment, psychiatric care, evidence-based practices, psychotherapy, nutrition specialists, and after-care.

Though not every Florida addiction treatment center is right for everyone, there are many options available that make Florida’s treatment landscape ideal. The challenge is finding the right one, but there are factors to consider that can help you make a decision.

Choosing A Florida Addiction Center

With so many treatment center options in South Florida, it’s important to know what to look for when you are considering addiction treatment. Addiction is a complex neurological disease and it requires a complex and personalized treatment approach. When you are considering your treatment and therapy options, there are two major questions that you should know the answer to: What type of treatment is the most effective and what level of care do I need? While you don’t have to root out all of this information on your own, it can help to have a general understanding of addiction treatment. Otherwise, addiction specialists are available 24/7 to take your call and answer any questions you might have.

What Type Of Treatment Is The Most Effective?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), there is no one type of treatment plan or therapy that is guaranteed to work for everyone. Addiction can come with all kinds of underlying issues, co-occurring disorders and contributing factors that make it ineffective to standardize treatment plans. That being said, there are treatment modalities available that are centered on tailoring treatment to your needs and include therapy options that are supported by research. These types of therapy are called evidence-based treatment methods.

Evidence-based treatment methods are proven to be effective in scientific research and are able to be reproduced in a variety of settings. While there are plenty of unproven, experimental, alternative therapies that might be helpful for some people, evidence-based treatment methods should form the backbone of any treatment plan. Some examples of evidence-based therapies that are commonly recommended for the treatment of addiction include:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

This started as a way to prevent relapse by addressing the relationship between thoughts and behaviors. In the CBT model, relapse starts with the way you cognitively process a stressful or high-risk situation, not when you actually use again. Through CBT, you can learn to recognize high-risk situations that may lead to relapse, negative thoughts, and ineffective coping mechanisms. You can also learn to develop healthy coping mechanism and relapse prevention strategies.

Contingency Management

This is one of the most common types of behavioral therapy. It involves tangible reward for the completion of recovery benchmarks. A familiar example of contingency management is the sobriety chips that are often used 12-step programs like AA or NA. However, it also includes voucher-based reinforcement system, which rewards patients with vouchers that have monetary value for every clean urine test they provide. In some cases, these rewards can be cash prizes or other items.

Community Reinforcement Approach (CRA)

This also uses an incentive-based approach, with the goal of encouraging abstinence for long enough so that patients can learn life skills, coping mechanisms, and relapse prevention strategies. In CRA, these incentives can take the form of social, familial, or vocational incentives. This also helps to expose people to drug-free lifestyles and connects them to communities that can bolster their support network.

12-Step Model

The 12-step model was pioneered by Alcoholics Anonymous in the 1930s and it has since spread all over the world. It involves a process of spiritual healing by recognizing the need for help, admitting your faults to others, and seeking to make amends for past misdeeds. This model has proven to be a useful aftercare tool and can connect clients to a community support group after formal treatment is over.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET)

People may enter treatment with different levels of commitment to recovery. Motivational enhancement seeks to help clients resolve their hesitance of apathy about stopping their drug use. It often uses the transtheoretical model, which describes each stage of change including pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance.

What Level Of Care Do I Need?

When you enter a treatment program, you will go through an intake and assessment process that is predominantly to designed to answer this question. Addiction can permeate different aspects of your life from your job to your family life. It’s important that each need is met and that urgent needs are addressed immediately. Your level of care determines the types of services you will have access to and the professionals that will be on staff. It also determines the time you spend on treatment services every week. As you move through the continuum of care (the process of progressing from one level to the next), your treatment should become less intensive, slowly allowing more independence while continuing to give you the support you need.

Generally, people with urgent medical needs or very serious psychological needs are placed in the highest level of care. As urgent needs are stabilized you can advance to new levels of care and address deeper issues like co-occurring disorders, unresolved childhood traumas, or anything else that might be beneath the surface of your addiction.

Though you will be walked through the process of the level of care placement when you enter a treatment program, it’s important to have a general idea about how placement works and what you can expect. To ensure accountability and standardization, the American Society of Addiction Medicine has created a list of criteria for addiction treatment placement. The criteria have six dimensions that are considered during your intake and assessment. The criteria are as follows:

Acute intoxication and/or withdrawal potential

Many drugs can cause potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms if they are not properly treated. When you enter a treatment program, one of the first things clinicians will investigate will be your current level of intoxication, which drugs you used, and how likely you are to experience withdrawal. If you recently stopped drinking or using drugs, you may only have a few hours before you start to feel uncomfortable symptoms.

Biomedical conditions and complications

Addiction can often come with some serious medical issues. Intravenous drug use is associated with an increased risk of contracting serious infectious diseases like hepatitis and HIV. Other drugs can deteriorate your health over long periods of using and intoxication can lead to injury. Effective treatment needs to address serious medical issues first.

Emotional, Behavioral, or Cognitive Conditions

Mental health has a significant role in the success of addiction treatment and pressing psychological issues can hinder the progress of your treatment plan. Emotional, cognitive, and mental health issues are important to address as a part of an effective treatment plan.

Readiness to change

Assessing your readiness to change and your motivation to achieve abstinence can affect your necessary level of care. If you have a low readiness to change, you may need specific therapies that can help show you your need for addiction treatment like motivational enhancement therapy.

Relapse, continued use, or continued use potential

Some people go through treatment once and achieve lasting recovery. Others enter treatment after having relapsed many times before. Examining your likelihood of relapse can inform clinicians of the most advantageous level of care for you.

Recovery/living environment

The environment you live during or after treatment is an important factor in the success of your treatment. Environmental factors can be powerful influences to relapse. For instance, if you are living with someone who is still using, you will be exposed to high-risk situations on a daily basis.

Other Factors To Consider

According to NIDA, there are some other important factors in an effective drug treatment program that you should consider when seeking a rehab center. One of the most important aspects of effective treatment is that it needs to address multiple needs. Based on the placement criteria, you can see that addiction treatment needs to address multiple needs including psychological and medical concerns. However, addiction can affect your life in multiple ways, including your job, family, and social life. Your addiction treatment center needs to be able to address all of these issues or connect you to quality referrals that can fulfill needs as they arrive.

Another important treatment concern is the length of treatment. It may seem like an attractive selling point to seek addiction treatment that gets you in and out as soon as possible but there is evidence to suggest that quick treatment might not be the most effective. According to NIDA, the most effective treatment program lasts up to 90 days. It takes time to rewrite the damage that addiction has done to your reward center. You have to learn to recognize triggers, for a relapse prevention plan and address underlying issues.

A woman with a clipboardEven if you excel in treatment and work through your plan quickly, it may lead to relapse and a hasty end to treatment.

Finally, addiction needs to be treated as a complex and chronic disease. For a long time, addiction was treated as a moral failing or a bad habit that was addressed with punitive measures and willpower. However, we’ve come to understand that addiction is a desire that affects the brain, especially in the reward center.

It’s very difficult to reverse and, in many cases, it is a lifelong process. However, we also need to understand that addiction is a treatable disease. Just because addiction is chronic and relapse is chronic, doesn’t mean a life of active addiction is inevitable.

To be effective, an addiction treatment center must have an accurate understanding of addiction. To formulate a high-quality treatment plan, you have to include a relapse prevention strategy with the knowledge that cravings and the temptation to relapse will be likely.

Starting Your Recovery Journey

Addiction is complicated and it requires a nuanced, complex treatment approach. Florida may have a wide variety of treatment options to choose from, but there are clear standards for quality addiction treatment. However, you don’t have to make the decision on your own. Addiction specialists are standing by to take your call anytime, day or night.

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