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Psychoactive Substance Addiction Treatment

One of the most acute social issues of modern society is the problem of chemical addiction. The spread of drugs worldwide is growing at an accelerating pace and is turning into a global threat comparable to nuclear and environmental. The data of the World Health Organization show that out of only 7 billion individuals on the planet, about 210 million have a psychoactive substance’s addiction. Therefore, 3% of people on the earth are drug addicts (World Health Organization, 2016).

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According to WHO statistics, the average age at which a person starts using drugs is 12-17 years, while a few years ago, it was kept within 15-17 years (World Health Organization, 2016). It is a drug addiction that is a significant factor in the global spread of HIV infection (World Health Organization, 2016). Treatment of the consequences of drug addiction requires a detailed study of the case of a particular patient, it should also include an integrated approach which involves psychotherapy and, if necessary, a drug intervention treatment.

Treatment of neurological diseases is subject to staging and, depending on the patient’s condition, the severity of abuse, and the therapeutic stage of the clinical procedure. These include the following:

  1. emergency care and intensive detoxification in acute poisoning with psychoactive substances;
  2. treatment of the withdrawal syndrome during the break of the abuse that caused the physical dependence;
  3. detoxification in case of chronic poisoning with intoxicating substances;
  4. treatment of complications caused by prolonged abuse;
  5. suppression of attraction and elimination of addiction;
  6. prevention of recurrence of the latter.

Given the similarity of addictive disorders to other chronic diseases characterized by relapses and remissions, and recognizing the complexity of the biopsychosocial mechanisms involved in addiction, practitioners believe that combining therapeutic approaches tailored to the individual’s needs should remain the guiding principle. In this regard, rehabilitation efforts after acute detoxification include three main goals, namely:

  1. Increasing the motivation for abstinence and maintaining a high level of commitment to this goal;
  2. Helping patients to restore a stable lifestyle without the consumption of psychoactive substances;
  3. Prevention of relapse.

The use of the above methods involves an integrated approach to solving the problem of drug addiction. For a person whose moral and physical condition is already susceptible to dependence on psychoactive substances, it is impossible to independently stop drug use. In this case, step-by-step medical intervention and professional help are needed. This approach’s disadvantage can be considered the impossibility of universal use of the same techniques for each patient; a personal approach is required.

One of the largest government organizations providing assistance and support for drug addiction treatment is The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. This association was created at the initiative of the US Congress in 1992 and assists with the drug addiction of citizens throughout the country (McCance-Katz, 2018). Given that this program is a national project, thousands of facilities throughout the government intend to provide timely assistance to those who need it.

With the advent of digital technologies into everyday life, a website was created for additional ease of use. Under the organization’s auspices, the portal operates, with the help of which a person can find a suitable clinic for him or her, depending on the region or city chosen. It should be noted that the advantage of this system is that it includes a considerable number of medical institutions, whose specialists can assist with any addiction, regardless of substance.

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Therapeutic measures of the detoxification stabilization stage are carried out among persons suffering from withdrawal symptoms with prolonged drug abuse. Detoxification can be defined as a process in which a patient is provided with medical assistance and pharmacotherapeutic measures to ensure his or her abstinence from drugs and normal functioning of the body with minimal somatic and emotional disturbances. Pharmacotherapy involves introducing an appropriate agonist with a gradual dose reduction to minimize the painful withdrawal symptoms of opioid, barbiturate, and benzodiazepine dependence.

Physiological and emotional disorders characteristic of withdrawal symptoms usually appear 8-12 hours after the drug’s last dose (Light, 2020). Individuals who use amphetamine and cocaine may also experience severe emotional and physiological disorders, which require stabilization treatment measures.

This phase’s primary goals are to safely manage complications, ensure abstinence from drugs, and develop the patient’s mindset for the implementation of strategies for the performance of cognitive and behavioral changes that should form the basis for further rehabilitation efforts. Detoxification alone is unlikely to lead to a complete recovery of the patient; this phase should be seen as preparation for long-term treatment, aiming to maintain abstinence from drugs and facilitate patient rehabilitation.

Several necessary forms of pharmacotherapy for opiate addiction have been developed, widely studied from the point of view of their significance for the stage of rehabilitation and anti-relapse treatment. First, agonists such as methadone, Levo-alpha acetylMethadol, buprenorphine, and the use of antagonists such as naltrexone help the patients during the various stages of overcoming the addiction (Karibo, 2018). The usage of the mentioned substances depends on the type of drug the patient had issues with.

Experimental studies have also shown the effectiveness of regulated cognitive-behavioral therapy among cocaine users compared to control measures without treatment. Substance abusers with mental disorders may be the most suitable candidates for a problem/service matching approach, especially given the possibility of including specialized mental health services for those with the most severe mental disorders. Compared to less regulated interventions, highly regulated anti-relapse interventions may also be more effective in reducing drug use among cocaine abusers with severe depression.

Integration into the treatment process (determined by the relationship between the psychologist consultant and the patient, as well as the patient’s opinion about their interest in treatment and the effectiveness of this treatment), as well as the parameters of psychological counseling sessions (the number of sessions conducted and the number of medical and other topics considered) directly help maintain continuous treatment (Beetham et al., 2020).

These findings are supported by many other necessary studies that conclude that counselor therapy program professionals who have well-developed interpersonal skills organize their work well, meet with their patients more often, refer them to appropriate support services, and, as a rule, they establish a “therapeutic union” with the patient, which has an applied meaning, and achieve better results. It is important to emphasize that not all counselors are equally successful with their patients. Professional psychotherapists’ performance with an advanced degree differs from the implementation of counseling professionals without a college degree.

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To sum up, there is a solid evidence base showing the effectiveness of both the detoxification, stabilization, and rehabilitative anti-relapse phases of treatment. Such a volume of scientific work cannot be generalized in one or another simplified form. Nonetheless, the available evidence strongly suggests that existing treatment programs can achieve these goals and bring tremendous benefits to patients, their families, the wider community, and society. The results may vary depending on the treatments used, conditions, drugs, and patient category.


Beetham, T., Saloner, B., Gaye, M., Wakeman, S. E., Frank, R. G., & Barnett, M. L. (2020). Therapies offered at residential addiction treatment programs in the United States. Jama, 324(8), 804-806. Web.

Karibo, H. M. (2018). The recovery revolution: The battle over addiction treatment in the United States. Journal of American History, 105(2), 457–458. Web.

Light, S. (2020). Incarceration and the failure of opioid addiction treatment in the United States. Contemporary Sociology, 49(6), 487-491. Web.

McCance-Katz, E. F. (2018). The substance abuse and mental health services administration (SAMHSA): New directions. Psychiatric Services, 69(10), 1046-1048.

World Health Organization. (2016). Consolidated guidelines on the use of antiretroviral drugs for treating and preventing HIV infection: Recommendations for a public health approach. World Health Organization.

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