Substance Use Treatment - Mental Health
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Substance Use Treatment

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Substance Use

Treatment

Misusing substances such as alcohol, drugs, or tobacco can increase your risk for injuries, accidents, and physical and mental health challenges. If you're facing a drug or alcohol problem, VA is here to help. You can take control of your substance use disorder, and you do not have to do it alone. Each VA medical center offers multiple types of evidence-based therapy, as well as medications that have proved to be highly effective in treating SUD. Explore the treatment options below and talk to your VA provider about a plan that will work best for you.

Evidence-Based Therapy

Evidence-based therapies are treatments that have proved effective in treating substance use disorder. Many VA medical centers and clinics provide other recovery services for SUD in addition to the treatments listed below.

Types of Evidence-Based Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Substance Use Disorders

Cognitive behavioral therapy for substance use disorders (CBT-SUD) teaches Veterans how to reduce their substance use to improve their quality of life. CBT-SUD also helps Veterans manage their urge to drink or use drugs, learn problem-solving techniques to deal with substance use, and achieve their personal goals.

Motivational Interviewing and Motivational Enhancement Therapy

Motivational enhancement therapy (MET) is a version of motivational interviewing that involves a brief conversation with a therapist and focuses specifically on changing alcohol or substance use. MET is particularly helpful for Veterans as they are first considering making changes or are unsure about the extent of their alcohol and drug addiction.

Contingency Management

Contingency management (CM) is an evidence-based treatment for Veterans who misuse certain drugs — specifically cocaine, methamphetamine, or marijuana. Extensive research on CM has shown it is highly effective in helping Veterans abstain from drug and alcohol use and stay in treatment.

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.

Smoking and Tobacco Cessation

VA's Tobacco and Health website features information from health professionals on preventing and stopping all forms of tobacco use by Veterans.

Telehealth/Virtual Sessions

VA providers can work with you to customize a treatment plan to make sure it works best for you. Ask your provider about telehealth options to support you if you prefer those to in-person visits.

Take the Next Step

Learn about available resources and VA programs for Veterans experiencing problems with alcohol or drug use.

Help for Homeless Veterans: 877-4AID-VET
 VA Health Care: Apply Now
Caregiver Support: 855-260-3274
eBenefits: My Gateway to Benefit Information
Find out if you’re eligible: Health Benefits Explorer
Veterans Health Benefits Guide
Veterans Health Library
Women Veterans Call Center: 1-855-VA-WOMEN