Substance Use Treatment - Mental Health
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Substance Use Treatment

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Substance Use

Treatment

No matter what you are experiencing, treatments and resources are available. VA offers treatment options that are proven to be very effective for most people, and many types of professionals at VA can help treat substance use.   

Evidence-based therapies are among the most effective treatments for substance use. They can include the following — which are in many cases available at a local VA medical center.

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps Veterans with substance use disorders develop more balanced and helpful thoughts about themselves, others, and the future. It can help Veterans manage the urge to drink or use drugs, refuse opportunities to use substances, use a problem-solving approach to deal with substance use, and achieve personal goals.
  • Motivational Interviewing (MI) helps Veterans with substance use disorders by focusing on conversations between the Veteran and their provider to detect and strengthen personal motivations for change. This therapy looks at the reasons behind your desire to make a change and the potential benefits of that change.
  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) helps Veterans with substance use disorders by focusing on conversations between the Veteran and their provider to detect and strengthen personal motivations for change. This therapy looks at the reasons behind your desire to make a change and the potential benefits of that change. MET is a version of MI that focuses specifically on changing alcohol and/or substance use.

Explore more potential treatment options at VA by visiting the Learn About Treatment page.

Medications

Just like diabetes or hypertension, substance use disorder is a chronic disease that can be treated with medication. VA offers proven options for controlling alcohol and drug addiction, including medications that can reduce cravings, prevent relapse, and reduce the risk of death from substance use disorder. Among the medication options are:

  • Buprenorphine, injective naltrexone, or methadone for opioid use disorder (Read more.)
  • Acamprosate, disulfiram, naltrexone, and topiramate for alcohol use disorder
  • Nicotine replacement therapy, bupropion, and varenicline for tobacco use disorder

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

Research has shown that behavioral therapy in combination with medication (commonly referred to as medication-assisted treatment, or MAT) is the most effective treatment for opioid use disorder. Patients undergoing therapy who also use MAT are more likely to remain in treatment and see improvements in social functioning. Talk to your VHA provider today to learn more about treatments for opioid use disorder.

If you or a Veteran you know has been diagnosed with opioid use disorder, it is important to learn about naloxone, an emergency overdose medication.

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