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What does Treatment Look Like?

Substance abuse treatment may include being able to monitor detoxification, develop treatment plans, and to be able to clearly assess alcohol and other drug problems or clients who have been affected by someone who has an alcohol or other drug problem.  Substance abuse treatment requires openness from the professional that embraces the understanding that there is a wide variety of causes of alcohol and other drug problems as well as many recovery methods.  Some examples of other mental health issues may include educational interventions and family therapy.

Does Short Term Intensive Treatment Work?

There are many aspects to consider when describing how individuals who battle addiction should be treated. Currently, addiction is defined as a chronic disease but treated like an acute disease. This concept is how it was developed and progressed to change with current trends and research, but still, for most, it is not effective. The benefit of treating addiction as an acute disease is that the individual will be able to achieve immediate stabilization. During this time, they are surrounded by professionals who are trained to help them attain a diagnosis and support them through a crisis situation. Depending on certain factors, the individual will be left to their own anywhere from a few days to a few months which do not coincide with chronic disease treatment.

Most addicts need long term on-going care to reach success in recovery. Nevertheless, the treatment models fail to implement a long term approach due to financial restrains, low quality treatment centers, and lack of understanding from most about the benefits of long term recovery support.

However, there are situations in which some are able to gain the life-long tools that they in short term recovery programs. These individuals may be on the lower end of the scale in regards to needing treatment long term. Shall these individuals be forced to obtain long term care, they may receive treatment that they do not need which could result in over-spending and could transfer problems that would have never surfaced. The other downfall to treating everybody long-term would be case overload for counselors and higher premiums or deductibles.

In general, addiction treatment needs to be treated as a chronic disease so long as those who may not benefit from such treatment could be easily identifiable.

Why Health Care Professionals should have Generalist Training

Often times alcohol and drug use and/or addiction can be overlooked if the professional who is examining that person has not been extensively trained in what signs and symptoms to look for in substance abuse.  It is very important for these healthcare professionals to have the proper training in this field to recognize and be able to help the patient who may have a problem.   If they don’t have the “generalist training” they may miss key signs that can lead them to a faster recovery.   Professionals will also be able to help patients who may not have a problem themselves but whose problems are directly impacted by someone in their life with an alcohol or drug problem.  Again, by having “generalist training” this will speed up the recovery for those involved.

Various Approaches

The Minnesota Model is an approach that teaches the disease concept of addiction.  This model coincides with Alcoholics Anonymous and often goes hand in hand.  The Minnesota Model believes that addicts can change once they understand that they are subjected to this disease for the rest of their lives.  Group therapy and family therapy is also a part of the Minnesota Model.

The Cenapse Model requires their clients to complete prerequisites or primary goals to be eligible for relapse prevention which includes accepting the disease theory of addiction.

The Cognitive Social Learning Model will let the client utilize the relapse prevention techniques at any time during recovery.

Another approach to treatment is classic and operative conditioning.  This conditioning happens when an unpleasant feeling is associated with the patient’s drug of choice in a medical setting.

The Self-efficacy theory puts a primary focus how to learn how to cope in high risk social situations.  The self-efficacy theory teaches patients coping responses that are effective which reduce the probability of a slip.   Instead of preventing the situations all together this theory helps patients understand that they will be faced and challenged all the time and this theory will provide solutions.  If a patient learns self-efficacy they will be less likely to fall into a full blown relapse.

Covert sensitization is similar to the operative and classic conditioning however there are no physical effects, only visuals.   This approach is not very effective.

Contingency contracting is when a client is forced to put a monetary value on their treatment while using behavioral self-control training.

The community reinforcement approach rewards clients for good behavior with something of value.

The comprehensive treatment approach is a combination of therapy, support groups, and relapse prevention with an emphasis on the client-counselor relationship.


Fisher, Gary L., and Thomas C. Harrison. Substance Abuse: Information for School Counselors, Social Workers, Therapists, and Counselors. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2000. Print.