This chapter discusses the fields of substance abuse treatment and family therapy. The information presented will help readers from each field form a clearer idea of how the other operates. It also will present some of the basic theories, concepts, and techniques from each field so they can be applied in treatment regardless of the setting or theoretical orientation.

Substance abuse treatment and family therapy are distinct in their histories, professional organizations, preferred intervention techniques, and focuses of treatment. Training and licensing requirements are different, as are rules (both formal and informal) that govern conduct. The two fields have developed their own vocabularies. These differences have significant and lasting effects on how practitioners approach clients, define their problems, and undertake treatment.

Despite these variations, providers from both fields will continue to treat many of the same clients. It is useful, therefore, for clinicians in each field to understand the treatment that the other field provides and to draw on that knowledge to improve prospects for professional collaboration. The ultimate goal of increased understanding is the provision of substance abuse treatment that is fully integrated with professional family therapy. NURS 6640 : wk 6: Addictive Disorder Therapy

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) outlines several principles of addiction treatment based on data the organization has collected for the past 40 years. These principles aim to improve the odds of success in treatment by ending (or moderating) drug use, lowering the risk of relapse, and allowing the person with addiction to rebuild or restart their lives. These principles include notions like:NURS 6640 : wk 6: Addictive Disorder Therapy

  • Addiction is a multifaceted problem, but one that can be treated effectively.
  • Treatment should be directed to the individual person rather than to their drug(s) of choice.
  • Treatment can be helpful even if the client initially goes involuntarily. (Eventually, the client’s voluntary participation in treatment will influence their recovery path.)
  • Medications can be an important part of treatment to address drug abuse or the mental health aspects underlying substance use.
  • Counseling and behavioral therapies are highly utilized and the best available treatment options for drug abuse.

This final notion is an important one. Many agree that behavioral therapies are an essential element to treat substance use, but with so many options, it can be challenging to know what forms of treatment are available, how they differ, and which is best for the individual. It should also be mentioned that the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) does not believe that there is any one approach that is appropriate for every person