Increasing numbers of people appear to be turning to recreational drugs and alcohol as a means of easing the stresses of daily life. However, with drug use comes the danger of drug addiction – and a whole raft of additional problems. Alcoholism and drug addiction may be thought of as attempts at self-cure/coping that then themselves become dangerous problems. Sometimes, interventions are the only option.

Addiction can be insidious, creeping up on a user and gradually taking over his or her whole life, causing behavioural changes, compulsive drug- or alcohol-seeking and damaging or destroying careers, educational pathways and even family relationships. People trying to overcome an addiction often need a great deal of support, including positive confrontation when they are betraying their efforts to relinquish drug use.  Drug addiction treatment is usually a multi-disciplinary process, involving specialist doctors, nurses and counsellors. It may be community-based or residential, but the evidence seems to suggest that severe drug addiction problems are best tackled intensively in a residential setting.

What are drug addiction and alcoholism interventions?

Effective drug addiction treatment and alcoholism recovery programmes may draw on both pharmacological and psychological interventions. Some drugs (such as heroin, for example) can cause extremely distressing and painful symptoms during withdrawal, and safely-dosed substitute medications may ease the process considerably. However, psychological assistance is also necessary, helping people to alter their thinking and behaviour in relation to drugs (cognitive-behavioural therapy) as well as learning to manage periods of temptation or vulnerability without resorting to drug use (contingency management therapy). Most programmes begin with a process of detoxification to achieve a drug-free state before embarking on the longer-term work of sustaining a drug-free life-style.

For more info, visit our addiction intervention section.