An Integrative Approach to Substance Abuse.

The basic needs of a functional basis for treatment of substance abuse.

Published on: 18 August 2013

While there is no straight forward method to approaching a case, there are certain points that will help shape the overall treatment. McCrady, Haaga, and Lebow bring to light the need for a successful collaboration with the client in that the patient and the clinician need to have a relationship that is based on empathy and respect. According to the authors, the therapist can provide a variety of strategies which include: that the treatment is structured and organized through the collaboration of the client into taking responsibility of the course of the treatment; if the client needs special referrals to addiction specialist it should be done, and with empathy; there should be a pre-determined agreement on the amount of use a person can do in order to slowly rid himself from his addiction; significant others should be involved in the process as to be a source of support; the client’s personality features should be taken into account, such as his motivation for treatment; help the client reach a greater awareness of what could be the reason of his destructive thinking that eventually leads to addiction; and lastly the client should be matched to an appropriate therapist, either the factor is gender or culture.

These tactics are common across most successful forms of treatment for all types of cases even personality disorders. For example, relating to the way in which Skinner believed in an empirical approach to human behavior, so too should the therapist in regard to substance abuse. “The clinician should carefully assess for indicators of specific conditioned responses to alcohol or drugs, and develop ways to change these conditioned responses” (McCrady, et al., p.118). By integrating methods from other types of therapy, we can further the progress of creating effective empirical means to treating substance abuse which seem to be lacking. “Persons with (substance abuse) disorders ‘exist in a complex web if social forces” (Moos, as cited in McCrady, Haaga, and Lebow, p.116).

Using pre-existing culture as a cornerstone to a healthy return to normality can only be implemented if the therapist understands the culture of the patient. “It is crucial that culture-specific interventions occur across the entire continuum...based on the cultural values of the group… reflect behavior preferences and expectations of group members” (p.105). If culture is not understood, then the trust that is demanded by the patient to the therapist is not built. 


Reference: Integrative principles for treating substance use disorders. Haaga DA, McCrady B, Lebow J.

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