Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Alcohol and Drug Treatment: A Reflection over Therapeutic Intervention

As estimated by National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) in 2000, over 70,000 Americans receive treatment for their alcohol related problem almost every day. In 2003, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) estimates that more than 21.6 million individuals in the United States are suffering from drug addiction problem. In the last two decades, a multitude of advanced methodologies have been employed for evaluating the significance of therapies increasingly applied for the purpose of alcohol and drug treatment. In this article, we will critically review the effectiveness of these therapeutic interventions.

12-Step Self-Help Programs

12-Step Self-help groups offer help to alcohol and drug abusers. Although these groups do not facilitate any alcohol or drug treatment directly, the program is considered as an integral part of the treatment for alcohol and drug abusers in the majority of the treatment centers. Several studies have confirmed that a combination of inpatient treatment, professional counseling and psychotherapy and participation in 12-Step Self-Help programs can be used for receiving better outcome than 12-Step Self-Help program alone.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy

Both alcohol and drug treatment facilitates motivational enhancement therapy which initiates with an assumption that the responsibility and capacity to bring positive changes lie within the patient. It is the responsibility of the therapist to motivate the clients in such a fashion that they become able to realize their inherent capacity and become able to implement it in their own lives. However, motivational enhancement therapy is one of the most cost-effective therapies available today.

Marital Therapy

In alcohol related problems, as suggested by different researchers, marital therapy improves the patient's participation rate in the program and increases the possibility that the patient will change his alcohol related behavior to the greater extent. Behavioral-marital therapy, if included during alcohol and drug treatment, focuses on changing using pattern as well as improving the strength of marital relationship. In addition, the marital therapy also integrates an understanding of familial issues and inspires the patient and the spouse to design an effective relapse prevention module.


In alcohol and drug treatment, the application of pharmacotherapy has great significance. Medication like naltrexone is found to be effective when it is taken on a regular basis. However, naltrexone comes with its associated side effects. In the withdrawal phases of alcohol and drug treatment, the common medications used are Sertraline (Zoloft), Ondasetron (Zofran), Carbamazepine (Zeptol), Fluoxetine (Prozac), Lorazepam (Ativan), Diazepam (Valium) etc. Although these medications are useful for treating temporary condition, these are not a cure for lifetime and may even turn out to be harmful to health for prolonged use since they contain strong addictive property.

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