Treatments for abuse and dependence (or addiction) are designed not only to reduce current and prevent future alcohol and other drug use but also to reduce recidivism and improve health and social functioning.
There are numerous approaches used for treatment, varying in content, duration, intensity, goals, location, provider, and target population. The most effective treatments combine a variety of bio-psycho-social services.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (2006) has developed 13 principles of
effective treatment for addiction for criminal justice populations:
- Drug addiction is a brain disease that affects behavior.
- Recovery from drug addiction requires effective treatment, followed by management of the problem over time.
- Treatment must last long enough to produce stable behavioral changes.
- Assessment is the first step in treatment.
- Tailoring services to fit the needs of the individual is an important part of effective drug abuse treatment for criminal justice populations.
- Drug use during treatment should be carefully monitored.
- Treatment should target factors that are associated with criminal behavior.
- Criminal justice supervision should incorporate treatment planning for drug abusing offenders, and treatment providers should be aware of correctional supervision requirements.
- Continuity of care is essential for drug abusers re-entering the community.
- A balance of rewards and sanctions encourages prosocial behavior and treatment participation.
- Offenders with co-occurring drug abuse and mental health problems often require an integrated treatment approach.
- Medications are an important part of treatment for many drug abusing offenders.
- Treatment planning for drug abusing offenders who are living in or re-entering the community should include strategies to prevent and treat serious, chronic medical conditions, such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, and tuberculosis.
The National Institute of Drug Abuse recommends treatment for a minimum of 3 months for individuals involved in the criminal justice system with substance use disorders.
Individuals with severe alcohol and other drug problems and co-occurring disorders typically need longer treatment and more comprehensive services. Treatment must be provided long enough to produce consistent behavioral changes.