Current Treatments: Positives & Problems 

 
 

Positives of Treatment as Usual

In the United States, the most common ways of attempting to help clients with Substance Use Disorders (SUD) are single issue focused programs [1]. The primary interventions utilized by providers within these programs are aimed at addressing one specific issue; ongoing abstinence from alcohol and drugs or the prevention of relapse.  The organizations that most often provide what are considered helpful services for people with SUD’s are known as Residential treatment centers, Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP’s), Medication Assisted Treatment programs, and psychosocial interventions [2].  The most widely utilized and socially accepted psychosocial interventions are cost-free 12 Step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and the like [3][4][5]. In 12 Step programs, some important variables that have helped people achieve and maintain their forms of abstinence are peer support, making use of role models, the establishment of alternative coping skills, and a variety of ongoing, easily accessible, community based support groups [6][7][8][9].


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Problems with the Status Quo

However, current research indicates that these methods and efforts to help people with SUD’s have low completion rates, difficulties engaging and retaining long term participants, and a serious gap in services for those with concurrent mental health issues [10][11][12][13]. Another contentious and controversial characteristic of many of these organizations, such as private residential treatment centers and public programs like AA, is their insufficient application of scientific principles to assess, record, and assert their results.  Most of them lack assiduity and systems that align with what are considered be standard empirical research methods and protocols [14]. The research that is produced in single focused program is considered inconclusive and is often disputed [15]. For many in the psychological, medical, and psychotherapeutic fields, especially those with an emphasis on utilizing current and effective research or what are called Evidence-based practices (EVB’s), this poses a significant host of problems and concerns [16][17].