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Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 1999
52 pages
After summarizing basic principles of effective drug treatment, this guide elaborates on these principles by providing answers to frequently raised questions; the guide concludes with descriptions of the types of treatment and examples of scientifically based and tested treatment components.
The principles, which are based on scientific studies, state that no single treatment is appropriate for all drug users and that treatment must be readily available at the time when a drug user is ready to enter treatment. Further, effective treatment must be sufficiently comprehensive to address the multiple needs of the individual user, not just the drug-using behavior. An individual's treatment and services plan must be assessed continually and be modified as necessary to ensure that the plan meets the person's changing needs. Also, remaining in treatment for an adequate period time is critical for treatment effectiveness. Research shows that counseling (individual and/or group) and other behavioral therapies are critical components of effective treatment for addiction. Further, medications are an important treatment element for many patients, especially when combined with counseling and other behavioral therapies. Addicted or drug-abusing individuals with co-existing mental disorders should have both disorders treated in an integrated way. Research also indicates that medical detoxification is only the first stage of addiction treatment; by itself it does little to change long-term drug use. Moreover, studies have shown that drug treatment does not have to be voluntary to be effective. Other principles of treatment are continuous monitoring for drug use during treatment, the provision of assessment for infectious diseases, and the use of multiple episodes of treatment over the long-term recovery process. A list of 30 annotated resources