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. Simply, pharmacotherapy is the use of medication in the treatment of drugs and alcohol abuse. The 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 actions that are aimed at individuals who have attained the majority age.
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
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. Noteworthy, methadone is highly effective in opioid treatment. Consequently, it is given to individuals who do not respond to other opioid medications. Noteworthy, patients taking this medication are usually provided with a daily dose of the drug in an approved outpatient facilities.
Another opioid treating medication is buprenorphine (Subutex). Basically, buprenorphine (Subutex) is a partial opioid agonist. Noteworthy, this medication dampens dangerous effects of withdrawals symptoms that 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 its long treatment period. 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.
In general, all these medications require physicians to be well trained in the diagnostic and treatment of patients. Importantly, these skills enable them to identify the most appropriate medications. Nevertheless, due to the likelihood of abuse of prescription drugs, in some cases, patients have to visit the health center for treatment. Specifically, methadone is only dispensed in the hospital. On the contrary, patients are free to take buprenorphine and naltrexone from home.
Behavioral theory entails activities such as contingency management and cognitive behavioral therapy. Basically, some of the common behavioral techniques are based on the following:
- Classical conditioning models
- Operant learning models
Notably, the classical conditioning model is founded on the understanding that behaviors are reinforced through repeated actions. In light of this, these models purpose to change an individual’s behavior by altering their daily routine. In order to achieve this goal, psychologists use the extinction and cure exposure procedure or the counterconditioning exposure method. In the extinction and cure exposure procedure, a drug 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 he she is not aroused by his/her environment to take drugs.
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.
On the same note, the use of operant learning in behavioral therapy aims at enabling a patient to get skills that enable him to avoid drugs. Notably, in most cases, this therapy is conducted alongside the pharmacotherapy model. One of the most common operant learning models is the contingency management approach. In this procedure, the physicians aim at ensuring that patients reduce substance abuse and increase their level of participation in behaviors that are compatible with these objectives (Gray, & Evans, 2014). In order to ensure that they comply to this therapy, a reward system is established. Usually, they are rewarded with a redeemable voucher if the test on their urine indicates that they have not taken any banned drug. Effectively, the incentive method ensures that patients are free from the use of drugs. In addition to this, it also enables them to acquire behaviors that make them avoid drugs.
In general, the operant learning in behavioral therapy is effective in ensuring that patients are free from the use of drugs. Nevertheless, it requires training since physicians have to liaise with laboratory technicians who measure the amount of drugs detected in the patient’s urine. In light of this, the operant learning behavioral therapy can only be done in a hospital due to the need for specialized services.
To sum up, the use of various interventions for the treatment of substance abuse is 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.
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.