Government Publishes Guide on Drug Abuse Treatment

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has published a free guide to choosing a drug abuse treatment program. “Seeking Drug Abuse Treatment: Know What to Ask” recommends questions that individuals and families who are struggling with addiction should ask to help them make an informed choice.

“Treatment options can vary considerably, and families often don’t know where to begin,” NIDA Director Nora Volkow said in a news release. “This booklet highlights the treatment components that research has shown are critical for success, to help people make an informed choice during a very stressful time.”

Many recent scientific advances have changed addiction treatment, but not all treatment centers have kept up with these changes, according to the Los Angeles Times. The guide recommends asking the following questions:

•    Does the program use treatments backed by scientific evidence?
•    Does the program tailor treatment to the needs of each patient?
•    Does the program adapt treatment as patients’ needs change?
•    Is the duration of treatment sufficient?
•    How do 12-step or similar recovery programs fit into drug addiction treatment?

The guide provides information on medications, evidence-based behavior therapies, the realities of relapse, and the role of community-level support.

    User Picture

    Ben House

    February 4, 2012 at 9:11 AM

    I went to RVN in 1971 to help detox heroin users before they came home and have worked in the field since. It seems to me the war on drugs has created two industries that sell a lot of hype to keep their doors open and the government does little to blow away their myths. Responses here address some of this. You will never recover is great for business. The change model holds hope for true recovery. E. Larsen’s writings about stage II recovery speaks to dealing with the pain and not just the substance use and have reinforced what I learned as clinical coordinator of residential treatment in 1974…Happy and successful people seldom abuse substances. Programs directed at helping people find happiness and success in life seem more viable than just saying “No”. Better living through chemistry may be the base of advertising for the pharmaceutical industry still fighting to find its way into this lucrative business.

    The treatment community seems reluctant to see addiction as a behavioral problem (loss of insurance and give in to legal perspective.) The legal community seems reluctant to see addiction as best managed by treatment theorizing that only consequences will alter behavior. What about programs that help people develop behavior/habits of being happy and remove the motivation for targeted behavior (addictions)? W. Glasser suggested this in his mid 1970’s book about positive addiction.

    User Picture

    Carolyn Reuben, L.Ac.

    January 27, 2012 at 6:08 PM

    The availability of new medications is not “progress” in the treatment of addiction. That is the old model: Find a physical problem and match it to a pharmaceutical. Sell the pharmaceutical online, on TV, in magazine ads, and through fancy dinners and cruises for doctors and reps who bring gifts to medical offices. The true progress in treatment is where programs are applying clinically the newest scientific advances in brain physiology with the biochemical substances that correct functional defects. The pioneers in science-based addiction treatment have written their manuals for any counselor and advocate to learn: Seven Weeks to Sobriety by Joan Mathews Larson details how to detox, recover, and be well even after decades of alcoholism. No one needs to be a white-knuckling dry drunk. Depression-Free, Naturally by Larson details the many psychological expressions of abnormal biochemistry, including conditions such as pyroluria, hyperhistamine, and hypohistamine. Another book that can be a bible for programs wanting quick results that last is The Mood Cure by Julia Ross. These three books explain how food choices and nutritional supplements are used by the nervous system to replenish missing neurotransmitters. For the criminal justice crowd, former chief probation officer Barbara Reed Stitt wrote Food and Behavior detailing her jurisdiction’s transformation using pharmaceutical-free methods in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio back in the 1970s. Ross and Larson have been doing the work since the 1980s. We in Sacramento started in 2000. There are other points of light doing pharmaceutical-free treatments all over the USA. Anyone interested can look at the website of, a network of providers interested in truly science-based treatment. Or contact me for more information. Carolyn Reuben, L.Ac. at

    User Picture


    January 24, 2012 at 2:58 PM

    NIDA’s new “Seeking Drug Abuse Treatment” publication contains some nice, refreshing changes but also a few glaring few errors, or erroneous points:
    1. “…keeping patients in treatment…” is the old, paternalistic, medical paradigm way of saying it. The newer “stage of change” way of saying it is: doing our best to motivate the client towards self-directed change.”
    2. “It is important for the treatment to be broad in its scope…” No, it is important for the treatment to be specific in its scope (and its application).
    3. “This [AA] group therapy model…” Despite the historical domination of the Minnesota model of addiction treatment/ recovery, Twelve-Step recovery has never been and is not group therapy. Group therapy is a (behavioral healthcare) modality; Twelve-Step recovery is a spiritual path/program (and only one out of many recovery methods available today, ranging from religious to philosophical to scientific/secular). To continue to equate group therapy with a spiritual program – and to a national audience by a national agency — unfortunately continues to mis-educate millions of people into thinking that the successful treatment of addiction primarily involves – or necessitates — a spiritual path (or spiritual-based group therapy).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *