The FAMCare Blog

Beyond 12 Steps - Substance Abuse Treatment Model

Posted by GVT Admin on Jan 31, 2018 9:00:00 AM

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It seems that society has always struggled with substance abuse. The human animal is uncomfortable with the constant torture of his normal brain chemistry and now and then seeks to escape to a more comfortable altered state. This, however, is a dangerous game. Apparently, we easily become addicted to the substances that alter brain chemistry and quickly slip into substance use disorders.

SUD Defined

The DSM-5 defines substance use disorder as: a pattern of drug/alcohol use that involves problems controlling your use, continuing to use the substance even when it causes problems, and having to use more to get the same effect or having withdrawal symptoms when you decrease or stop use.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that 21.5 million Americans suffer with an SUD and that last year we had more drug overdose deaths than motor vehicle-related fatalities in America.

AA - The Treatment Pioneer

Twelve-Step peer support programs are based on the idea, originally formed by the AA movement in the late 1930s, that addiction is a progressive, incurable disease lessened only by undergoing spiritual transformation and abstaining from alcohol or other identified substances.

For almost 90 years, people have sought refuge in AA’s peer support model and thousands of AA meetings take place every day in small towns and large cities all across the country.

A More Complex Treatment Model

But with the onslaught of more powerful synthetic drugs in the past thirty years, social service professionals realized that they needed to expand their addiction treatment model. After years of research and analysis, addiction treatment professionals have expanded their understanding of addiction treatment to the following principles:
  1. Addiction is a complex but treatable disease that affects brain function and behavior.
  2. No single treatment is appropriate for everyone.
  3. Treatment needs to be readily available.
  4. Effective treatment attends to multiple needs of the individual, not just his or her drug abuse.
  5. Remaining in treatment for an adequate period of time is critical.
  6. Behavioral therapies—including individual, family, or group counseling—are the most commonly used forms of drug abuse treatment.
  7. Medications are an important element of treatment for many patients, especially when combined with counseling and other behavioral therapies.
  8. An individual's treatment and services plan must be assessed continually and modified as necessary to ensure that it meets his or her changing needs.
  9. Many drug-addicted individuals also have other mental disorders.
  10. Medically assisted detoxification is only the first stage of addiction treatment and by itself does little to change long-term drug abuse.
  11. Treatment does not need to be voluntary to be effective.
  12. Drug use during treatment must be monitored continuously, as lapses during treatment do occur.
  13. Treatment programs should test patients for the presence of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases as well as provide targeted risk-reduction counseling, linking patients to treatment if necessary (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2012).


As addiction has become increasingly more complex the treatment model has evolved beyond peer-support. Doctors, therapists, and social workers dedicated to addiction treatment are soldiers on the front lines of this battle against social decay. However, the irony is, as their treatment skills become more effective, the problem gets worse.
“But one day we will turn the corner, and when that happens, society will begin to find its way back home,” said a hopeful addiction counselor.

Topics: Social Services Industry News, mental health

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