Ask the Expert: Is it important to intervene early?

A: Dr. Mark Gold

Is it important to intervene early?

Substance use disorders are chronic, progressive and can be fatal. The progressive nature of this disease means that the earlier in the vicious cycle the diagnosis is made and treatment begins the better for the person with a SUD, their brain, and life. Family members, colleagues at work, health providers encourage seeing a professional or going to a rehab. But, it is often very difficult to know how far to go. We recommend that they try to intervene, early in the course of the disease.

In the early days, their relationship to the individual is stronger than the individual’s relationship to the drug or drugs of misuse. This is the best time for an intervention. Get an evaluation, see the full scope of the SUD and any other cooccurring or acquired medical problems, infectious, and psychiatric diseases. Treatment works, but it is best to initiate treatment early and to monitor for many years.

Dr. Mark Gold

Dr. Mark S. Gold is a teacher of the year, translational researcher, author, mentor and inventor best known for his work on the brain systems underlying the effects of opiate drugs, cocaine and food.

An excerpt from Navigating Addiction and Treatment: A Guide for Families, Addiction Policy Forum, 2020.


A Note From Addiction Policy Forum

Substance use disorders get worse over time. The earlier treatment starts the better the chances for long-term recovery. Many families are wrongly told to “wait for rock bottom” and that their loved one needs to feel ready to seek treatment in order for it to work. The idea that we should wait for the disease to get worse before seeking treatment is dangerous. Imagine if we waited until stage 4 to treat cancer. Decades of research has proven that the earlier someone is treated, the better their outcomes—and that treatment works just as well for patients who are compelled to start treatment by outside forces as it does for those who are self-motivated to enter treatment.

Help is Here

If you have questions or need to speak with someone for support, call or text (833) 301-4357 today. Our staff of trained counselors at Addiction Policy Forum provides free, confidential support to anyone in need of help with a Substance Use Disorder issue, including patients, families and healthcare providers.

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