12 Principles for Effective Drug Treatment

Drug abuse and addiction is a complex and serious illness that requires comprehensive treatment. In 1999, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) published 13 principles of effective treatment for drug addiction, which remain valid today. These principles were formulated after years of research and evidence demonstrating that all of these must be applied together for treatment to be successful. Any program that is serious about recovery must include at least each of the items on the list.

Outpatient substance abuse treatment is changing as research and experience teach us more about the nature of addictive illness and the principles of recovery. Alcoholism and drug addiction have so many dimensions and alter so many aspects of a person's life, that the treatment of this disease is never simple. Effective drug abuse and addiction treatment programs often incorporate many components, each targeting a particular aspect of the disease and its consequences. To ensure successful recovery, it is important to understand the 12 principles of effective drug treatment.

1.Addiction is a Complex Disease

Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences.

It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain's structure and how it works. These changes in the brain can be long-lasting, and can lead to the harmful behaviors seen in people who abuse drugs.

2.Treatment Must Be Comprehensive

Treatment must address all aspects of an individual's life, including physical health, mental health, social functioning, vocational training, legal issues, and family dynamics. A comprehensive approach to treatment will help individuals achieve long-term recovery.

3.Treatment Must Be Individualized

No two individuals are alike, so treatment must be tailored to meet the needs of each individual. Treatment plans should be based on an assessment of an individual's unique needs and strengths.

4.Treatment Must Be Accessible

Treatment should be accessible to those who need it, including those with limited financial resources or who live in rural areas.

Treatment should also be available in a variety of settings, including inpatient, outpatient, residential, and community-based programs.

5.Treatment Must Be Continuous

Treatment should be continuous throughout the recovery process in order to ensure long-term success. This includes providing ongoing support for individuals who have completed treatment programs.

6.Treatment Must Be Comprehensive

Treatment should include a variety of services such as medical care, counseling, education, vocational training, housing assistance, and other social services.

7.Treatment Must Address Co-Occurring Disorders

Many individuals with substance use disorders also have co-occurring mental health disorders such as depression or anxiety. Treatment should address both disorders simultaneously in order to ensure successful recovery.

8.Treatment Must Be Evidence-Based

Treatment should be based on scientific evidence and research-based practices in order to ensure effectiveness and safety.

9.Treatment Must Include Relapse Prevention

Relapse prevention strategies should be incorporated into treatment plans in order to reduce the risk of relapse after treatment has been completed.

10. Treatment Must Include Family Involvement

Family involvement is essential for successful recovery from substance use disorders. Family members should be involved in all aspects of treatment in order to provide support and guidance throughout the recovery process.

11. Treatment Must Include Follow-Up Care

Follow-up care is essential for long-term recovery from substance use disorders.

Follow-up care should include ongoing support services such as counseling, education, vocational training, housing assistance, and other social services.

12. Treatment Must Be Culturally Appropriate

Treatment should be tailored to meet the needs of individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds in order to ensure successful recovery.