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Interventions for the Treatment of Substance Use Disorders
Drug and alcohol abuse have a crippling effect on the social, economic, and technological development of all societies. Given the debilitating nature of drugs, most users normally do not have time to work or engage in positive social activities. In fact, substance abuse leads to crime since most addicts are usually willing to steal in order to finance their drugs expenses (Fields, 2012). Further, the hangovers, hallucinations, and intoxication caused by these materials make most users not to have adequate time to engage in technological and scientific advancements. In light of this, it is prudent for psychologists to come up with ways of treating substance use disorders. Broadly, the main intervention methods used to treat drug addicts are pharmacotherapies, behavioral therapies, and behavioral therapies primarily for adults.
Pharmacotherapy Intervention Description
Simply put, pharmacotherapy is the use of medication in the treatment of drugs and alcohol abuse. Notably, behavioral theory focuses on adjusting the thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, cognitive schema, attribution, and attitudes that influence an individual’s feelings and behavior (Gray, & Evans, 2014). On the same breath, behavioral therapy primarily for adults refers to specialized treatment procedures for individuals who have attained the majority age.
Outcomes and Target Population
Pharmacotherapy is effectively used in the treatment of opium addiction. Generally, medics use these medications to heal addicts and to prevent the occurrence of withdrawal symptoms. In addition to this, they also block the effects of opioids (Gray, & Evans, 2014). Generally, pharmacotherapy medications are categorized as follows:

  • Agonists, which activate opioid receptors
  • Partial agonists, which produce small response on the receptors
  • Antagonists, which interfere with the reward effects of opioids besides activating opioid receptors

Treatment Settings and Effectiveness of the Medication
Notably, the most common pharmacotherapy medications are methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. Methadone is a slow-acting opioid agonist. In order to ensure that it reaches the brain within the required time, it is administered orally and sublingually (Doweiko, 2015). Noteworthy, methadone is highly effective in opioid treatment. Consequently, it is given to individuals who do not respond to other drug abuse medications. Noteworthy, patients taking this medication are usually provided with a daily dose of the drug in approved outpatient facilities.
Another opioid treating medication is buprenorphine (Subutex). Basically, buprenorphine (Subutex) is a partial opioid agonist. Buprenorphine is effect in substance abuse treatment since it dampens dangerous effects of withdrawals symptoms, which most opioid users experience (Connors, Donoban, & DiClemente, 2011). Notably, Suboxone is the buprenorphine formulation that is taken orally. Moreover, it also contains naloxone, an opioid antagonist, which ensures that patients do not get high even if they inject themselves with it. Evidently, buprenorphine is safe to use since there are minimal chances of its abuse. In light of this, certified doctors prescribe it to various addicts.
Finally, naltrexone (depade or revia) is an opioid antagonistic medication. Notably, it is not addictive or sedative. Nevertheless, it is difficult for most patients to comply with it due to the long treatment period required before a person recovers (Doweiko, 2015). On a positive note, recent developments have led to the formulation of an injectable formulation known as Vivitrol. Given that administration of this new drug requires only one injection per month, it is hoped that it will increase the compliance levels in addiction treatment.
Training Required to Conduct This Therapy
In general, all these medications require physicians to be well trained in the diagnostic and treatment of process. Importantly, these skills enable them to identify the most appropriate medications for each type of addiction. Nevertheless, due to the likelihood of abuse of prescription drugs, in some cases, patients have to visit the health center for treatment. For example, methadone is only dispensed in the hospital (Doweiko, 2015). On the contrary, patients are free to take buprenorphine and naltrexone from home.
Behavioral Theory
Intervention Description and Target Population
Behavioral theory entails activities such as contingency management and cognitive behavioral therapy. Basically, some of the common behavioral techniques are as follows:

  1. Classical conditioning models
  2. Operant learning models

Notably, the classical conditioning models are founded on the understanding that behaviors are reinforced through repeated actions. In light of this, these models purpose to change a drug addict behavior by altering their daily routine (Doweiko, 2015). On the same note, the use of operant learning aims at enabling a substance addict to get skills to avoid drugs (Doweiko, 2015). In most cases, this therapy is conducted alongside the pharmacotherapy model.
Treatment Settings and Outcomes
In classical conditioning models, psychologists use the extinction and cure exposure procedure or the counterconditioning exposure method to treat drug addicts. In the extinction and cure exposure procedure, an addict is taken to the environment where he/she abuses drugs for a long time without consuming these substances (Connors, Donoban, & DiClemente, 2011). Eventually, the individual adopts to these areas and is not aroused by his/her environment to take drugs.
Intervention Description and Target Population
In the counterconditioning exposure method, an addict is exposed to an environment that makes him/her have a negative opinion towards a specific drug. Ideally, the patient may be given a medication that negatively reacts with his choice drug (Anales, 2012). In this case, if the patient consumes his/her common drug, he/she may become nauseated and vomit. In turn, he/she hates this substance since he/she associates it with his/her sickness.
Outcomes and Treatment Setting
One of the most common operant learning models is the contingency management approach. In this procedure, the physicians aim at ensuring that an addict reduces substance abuse and increases his/her level of participation in behaviors that are compatible with this objective (Gray, & Evans, 2014). In order to ensure that the patient complies with this therapy, a reward system is established. Usually, the person is compensated with a redeemable voucher if the test on his/her urine indicates that he/she has not taken any banned drug. Effectively, the incentive method ensures that the patient is free from the use of drugs. In addition to this, it also enables the individual to acquire behaviors that make him/her avoid drugs.
Effectiveness and Training
In general, operant learning in behavioral therapy and the classical conditioning models are effective in ensuring that patients are free from the use of drugs. Nevertheless, both methods require training since physicians have to liaise with laboratory technicians who measure the amount of drugs detected in the addict’s urine (Doweiko, 2015). In light of this, these models can only be performed in a hospital due to the need for specialized services.
To sum up, the use of various interventions for the treatment of substance abuse are essential in eliminating drug dependence among users. Actually, these interventions complement each other. Consequently, physicians should always implement the methods that offer the best results to their patients. Overly, they should ensure that addicts stop using drugs.
Anales, J. (2012). Emerging targets for drug addiction treatment: Substance abuse assessment, interventions, and treatment (1st Ed.). New York, NY: Nova Science Publishers.
Connors, G., Donoban, D., & DiClemente, C. (2001) Substance abuse treatment and the stages of change: Selecting and planning interventions (1st Ed.). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
Doweiko, H., E. (2015). Concepts of chemical dependency (9th Ed.). La Crosse, WI: Cengage Learning.
Fields, R. (2012). Drugs in perspective: causes, assessment, family, prevention, intervention, and treatment (8th Ed.). New York, NY: Mc Graw-Hill Education.
Gray, T., & Evans, S. (2014). Synthetic drugs: scope and trends in synthetic cannabinoids and stimulants: Substance abuse assessment, interventions, and treatment. New York, NY: Nova Science Publishers.