Treatmentfor All

The Challenge

People with a substance use disorder (SUD) have an intense focus on using a certain substance(s) such as alcohol, tobacco, or illicit drugs, to the point where their ability to function in day-to-day life becomes impaired. Here is what we know:

  • Substance use can cause changes in how the brain functions, which can last long after the after the period of intoxication. Intoxication is the intense pleasure, euphoria, calm, increased perception and sense, and other feelings that are caused by the substance. The process of addiction can lead someone to become dependent on substance use to avoid the physical and mental symptoms of withdrawal – without any sense of pleasure.
  • A major factor in achieving favorable treatment outcomes is the use of effective screening and assessment instruments to inform the treatment placement, planning, and decision-making process.
  • Addiction is a complex but treatable disease that affects brain function and behavior. No single treatment is appropriate for everyone. Treatment varies depending on the type of drug and the characteristics of the patients. Matching treatment settings, interventions, and services to an individual’s particular problems and needs is critical to his or her ultimate success in returning to productive functioning in the family, workplace, and society. Treatment does not need to be voluntary to be effective.
$12For every $1 spent on treatment, $12 is saved in
social costs.

What We Need

A redesigned U.S. Treatment System

Our treatment system was built for the 19th and 20th centuries—not today. We need to reimagine treatment by making it easily accessible to all. As with other chronic diseases, the earlier treatment is offered in the disease process, the greater the likelihood of positive outcomes. It is important to understand there is a continuum of treatment and interventions. No single approach is appropriate for everyone.

A Holistic View

Effective treatment attends to multiple needs of the individual, not just his or her drug misuse. To be effective, treatment must address the individual’s drug use and any associated medical, psychological, social, vocational, and legal challenges. It is also important that treatment be appropriate to the individual’s age, gender, race, ethnicity, and culture.

Medications & Behavioral Therapies

Behavioral therapies vary in their focus and may involve addressing a patient’s motivation to change, providing incentives for abstinence, building skills to resist drug use, replacing drug-using activities with constructive and rewarding activities, improving problem-solving skills, and facilitating better interpersonal relationships. They may also include participation evidence based practices, including contingency management, and incentives, sanctions, and therapeutic adjustments, utilized in family, employment settings, and/or the criminal justice system. This can significantly increase treatment entry, retention rates, and the ultimate success of drug treatment interventions. Medications are an important element of treatment for many patients, especially when combined with counseling and other behavioral therapies.
Sanctions or enticements from family, employment settings, and/or the criminal justice system can significantly increase treatment entry, retention rates, and the ultimate success of drug treatment interventions.

Standards & Resources