Addiction Medicine Doctors
Addiction medicine doctors focus on the prevention, assessment, and treatment of addictions to drugs (over the counter and prescription), alcohol, and cigarettes. These doctors can help patients safely and gradually stop using drugs and alcohol, and/or stop smoking. Addiction medicine doctors often prescribe medications that decrease dependence on these drugs and decrease the likelihood of relapse.
The American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM) offers specialization certificates to physicians who are board certified doctors of Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Pediatrics, Emergency Medicine, Surgery, and Preventive Medicine. Board certified psychiatrists can obtain additional qualifications in Addiction Psychiatry from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.
When to Seek Help
Individuals should seek help from addiction medicine doctors if their drinking or drug use interferes with work, school, emotional stability, spiritual life, and/or interpersonal relationships. In the most serious situations, drug or alcohol use can cause problems with the legal system and/or cause someone to become a danger to self or others. Often, in these cases, addiction treatment is mandated by the courts. Drug, alcohol, or cigarette use that is negatively impacting physical health should also be discussed with addiction medicine doctors.
The type and level of treatment necessary to deal with a person’s addiction(s) depends on the level of drug or alcohol dependence, the patient’s current health status, and the level of available support in the living environment. Individuals with severe dependencies require the most intensive level of treatment, and vice versa, individuals with less serious problems need less intensive therapies.
Inpatient treatment is often necessary for patients with serious dependencies that have compromised their health, who do not live in a supportive environment. Inpatient settings offer 24 hour medical and nursing supervision, a medically monitored detoxification period, and a specific focus on assessing and meeting medical or psychiatric needs.
Day treatment programs are useful for patients who are medically stable and living in a supportive environment who need access to services during the daytime hours. Patients in day treatment programs return home, or sometimes, stay in dormitory-style rooms during the evening.
Intensive outpatient programs offer individuals access to treatment for part of the day (often several days per week). Often, patients opt to enroll in day or evening sessions in order to allow themselves the ability to maintain job and family responsibilities.
Outpatient therapy offers supportive services in an individual setting one time per week. Psychotherapy and medication monitoring may both be components of this type of treatment.