A common belief among individuals who are abusing substances is that it is easy to stop substance abuse in the absence of professional help. For the majority of substance users, however, this belief is unfounded. Long-term substance abuse, and drug addiction in general, alters brain function and this means that the craving for a substance continues years following substance abuse.It is because of these persistent cravings that professional treatment is required to prevent a substance abuse relapse.

Substance abuse treatment varies from one individual to the next.There is a correlation between the method of treatment and the type of substance being misused.Treatment can often be comprised of both a behavioural and a pharmaceutical component.The behavioural component provides an individual with coping strategies and ways to avoid a relapse.The pharmaceutical component provides an individual with medication to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings. Medication and dosage are determined by the type and severity of symptom(s) a patient is experiencing.

Substance abuse treatment may seek to reveal the underlying cause of an individual’s substance abuse.If the underlying cause is not identified and dealt with, it is likely that an individual will relapse in the future.The healthcare professionals involved in substance abuse treatment include doctors and nurses, specialist counsellors, psychologists, and physiatrists.Friends and relatives of a drug user may also be invited to become involved in certain stages of the recovery process.