Drugaddiction is a serious illness characterized by high levels ofunmanageable and uncontrollable craving for these substances. It is aserious disease that affects both the brain and behavior of anindividual. People with addiction are compelled by their urge whichcontinues even when the consequences are devastating. Drug AbuseWarning Network (DAWN) explains the effects brought by addiction inthe following quotation:

Thisissue has medical, psychological and social effects to the affectedindividuals (Some of the effects of drug addiction include braincomplications leading to distorted memories and learning disabilitiesand inhibitions on behavior control. For this reason, DAWNacknowledges the fact that drug addiction qualifies to be describedas a disease of the brain” (DrugfactsJournal 2001) 1.

Vulnerabilityto drug addiction varies among individuals depending on factors suchas the genetic make-up of the person, the age of the individual atthe time of exposure to these drugs and other environmentalinfluences. The functioning modes of the brain are affected withprolonged exposure and use of drugs which later on makes the affectedperson deficient of self-control and willpower. Despite beingcompulsive intake of drugs, addiction is known to cause extensiveeffects on the health of the individuals and their social status.While drug abuse and addiction have developed very many dimensionsand interfere with varied aspects of the life of the affected person,it calls for the awareness and help from family members, the clergy,healthcare providers and other relevant stakeholders to avail thesolutions needed by the addicts through implementation of treatmentprograms such as the use of behavioral therapies andpharmacotherapies.

DrugAddiction Treatment Approaches

Treatmentof drug addicts is a complex process because of its chronic nature. According to TheDrugFacts Journal,

Treatmentof drug addiction requires a lot of time since the addicts need long-term and repeated therapies for total recovery. While treating a drugaddict, one aims at helping the patient to completely stop the use ofthese drugs, stay free from drugs and its environments and to besocially productive. Every addict has a suitable way through whichhe/she is supposed to undergo treatments since no single method oftreatment is uniformly suitable for all addicts. The type oftreatment to be used depends on the kind of drug abused by thepatient2.

Everytreatment approach must put into consideration the characteristics ofthe addict since there is no single treatment suitable for allpatients. It is important to look into the settings in which thetreatment is to be undertaken while matching the requiredinterventions and services with the needs and specific problems ofeach addict. This is aimed at ensuring the success of the treatmentapproaches. Due to the uncertain nature of patients in this category,treatments must be readily available to prevent them from gettinglost. In some instances, some of these patients are uncertain on thedecision to start treatments. Stakeholders are required to takeadvantage of the services availed once the patient shows interest.Being a chronic condition, it is important to start early treatmentsas this increases the chances of yielding positive returns3.

Toget maximum outputs from any addiction treatment process, theattendant has to address abuse of drugs and other issues relating tothe patient such as legal, social, psychological, vocational andmedical related issues affecting the patient. Other background issueslike age, gender, marital status, culture and ethnic boundaries ofthe patient must be addressed by the treatment. The total period ofexposure to the treatment has a critical function for recovery of theindividual. Time appropriateness depends on the kind and extent ofthe needs and problems the person has. Research reveals that addictedpersons require a period of at least three months to recover fromthis situation. Rodney explains this in the following quotation:

Theprocess of recovering from drug addiction requires patience since itis long-term and demands for periodic treatment episodes. At times,patients experience relapses during treatments. This is an indicatorof some kind of ineffectiveness in the treatment and adjustments arevital. To prevent the risks of patients leaving the treatments in apremature manner, these programs must include strategies whichinvolve and retain patients in treatments. The following treatmentprograms have been established to ensure effective recovery .4

Long-TermResidential Treatments

Thisprogram provides treatment and care to the affected person throughoutthe day (24 hours). It functions effectively in settings which areout of the hospital. One such treatment is the Therapeutic Community(TC) in which long periods of stay ranging between six and twelvemonths are organized. This treatment emphasizes on re-socializing thepatient to the whole community. In this case, the patient’scommunity is considered to be his/her staff, other residents andother social contexts who are actively involved in the treatmentprocess.According to the DrugFacts Journal, “Since drug dependenceand addiction is looked as an issue of the affected person’spsychological and social inappropriateness, this treatment seeks toenhance the levels of responsibility and accountability for animproved social productivity. TCs are well structured and confrontingand assist residents in the examination of one’s concepts andbeliefs and adaptation of new socially accepted norms”5.

Short-Term Residential Treatments

Theyare meant to give highly intensive but short lived treatments basingon a 12 step approach. Short-term residential treatments areeloquently defined by Rodney in the dictionary of pastoral care andcousellingin the following quotation:

Intheir original form, … were intended to give treatments to alcoholaddicts but were later used to treat other addictions after thecocaine epidemic of 1980s Originally, patients were required toattend treatment models which entailed hospital based inpatienttreatments for a period ranging between three and six weeks which wasthen followed by an intensive therapy out of the hospital (Rodney1990, 79)6.

Individualsundertaking the outpatient treatment were encouraged to joinself-help groups like AA. They were then taken through aftercareprograms or maintain their engagements as outpatients.

OutpatientTreatment Programs

Theseprograms vary according to the type and level of intensity in theservices offered. They are less costly compared to inpatient andresidential treatment programs. The targets for this services aremajorly those addicts who are in the working environments or thoserequired to give social support. Due to their nature, these programsare not only limited to drug education and focuses on the use ofgroup counseling. Some programs in this category have been able totreat medical and mental disorders in addition to addiction.


Rodneydefines this int he dictionary of pastoral care and counsellingdefines this as “a therapeutic approach mode of treatment in whichreinforcements in the social setup are emphasized” 7.It involves peers who encourage each other on the importance of alifestyle free from drugs. To attain great positive outcomes, groupcounselling is done concurrently with individualized counseling ondrugs or made to be in line with cognitive behavioral therapy.

IndividualizedDrug Counseling

Thismethod aims at limiting the extent to which alcohol and other illicitdrugs are used by an addict by looking into other specific areaswhich relate to the impaired body functions. It is intended to lookat issues affecting the addict such as family, involvement intocriminal activities and the addict’s employment status.Individualized counseling looks into the behavioral goals of theaddict through a short period of time. It helps the patient indeveloping strategies for coping up and the ways through which he/shecan abstain from using drugs. The addict is taken through a 12-stepinvolvement program which is carried out for about three months. Theprogram focuses on issues such as supplementary medical referrals,psychiatry services, and employment counseling.

Treatmentof Addicts Involved in Criminal Justice

Drugabusers and addicts may be held by criminal justice systems beforecoming into contact with social and health systems. Through research,it is evident that treating drug addicts convicted with criminaloffences leads to effective results both in recovering from addictionand crime. Addicts out of legal pressure may recover at a slower ratein comparison to those under conviction.


Theseare treatment methods that base on proofs to support why they aresuitable. Each therapy is established to address specific drugaddiction aspects and effects to the individual, the society and his/her family. Some of these therapies are meant to supplement andenhance some of the treatments discussed. They include:

  • Pharmacotherapies

  • Behavioral Therapies

  • Behavioral Therapies Primarily for Adolescents


  1. Addictions Caused by Opioids


Thisdrug is known to have the effects of limiting withdrawal symptoms andbringing down the urge for addictions caused by consumption ofopioids.According to Rodney, “It is taken orally.

Combinedbehavioral treatments such as group counseling sessions can help inreducing addictions caused by opioids”8.


Thisis a synthetic opioid that agonizes opioid receptors. It reduceswithdrawal symptoms caused by opioids. Buprenorphine has low chancesof being overdosed.


Thisis a synthetic opioid that works in an antagonistic manner bypreventing opioids from blocking to the receiving points. It issuitable for outpatient uses and must be orally taken

  1. Addictions Caused by Tobacco

NicotineReplacement Therapy

NicotineReplacement Therapy formulations such as transdermal nicotine, spraysof nicotine and gum nicotine have been developed. They are used inthe place of nicotine in tobacco.


Itis a mild stimulant and inhibits the intake of neurotransmitters suchas dopamine and norepinephrine. It is used to suppress the crave fortobacco


Itis the approved medication for cessation of smoking.


Theseare approaches established to help in the involvement of othermembers of the society in treating drug addicts. It entails provisionof incentives, attitude modification and helping them cope withcircumstances of stress. They include:

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy which is used in the treatment of addictions due to nicotine, marijuana, alcohol, cocaine and methamphetamine. It was meant to be a means of cutting problems associated with relapse.

  • Contingency Management Interventions/ Motivation Incentives are used in treatment of addictions caused by consumption of alcohol, opioids, stimulants, marijuana and nicotine. It involves issuing the addicts with tangible gifts to encourage positive steps taken.

  • Community Reinforcement Approach Plus Vouchers is intended to give treatments to addicts of opioids, alcohol and cocaine. It is meant for outpatient addicts and encourages them through the use of reinforcements like recreations, material, and tours. This program aims at maintaining abstinence for a long period of time by guiding them on how to sustain it and reducing the levels of alcohol consumed by cocaine addicts.

  • Motivation Enhancement Therapy is meant for alcohol, marijuana and nicotine addicts. Its major aim is to arouse innate motivated change among the addicts.

BehavioralTherapies Primarily for Adolescents

Treatmentof adolescent drug addicts needs a close involvement of theindividual’s family members. Some of the approaches put in place toensure effective treatment include:

  • Multisystem Therapy which looks into the causes of adolescent behaviors considered as antisocial majorly in alcohol addiction. It uses the adolescent’s natural environment for effective treatment.

  • Multidimensional Family Therapy is meant for outpatient adolescents abusing alcohol. It focuses on the networks of the addict.


Drugaddiction is a great menace to the society and systems of governanceat large. Figures from the Substance Abuse and Mental ServicesAdministration, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Qualityreveal that “out of the 4.6 million drug related cases in 2009, 45%were as a result of illicit drug abuse” (Rodney 1990, 87)9.Alcohol and nicotine top the list of abused drugs all over the world.The adverse effects caused by these drugs act as a wakeup call to allstakeholders to come up with effective ways of reducing such cases.


&quotDrug-RelatedHospital Emergency Room Visits&quot. Drugabuse.Gov.Last modified 2011. Accessed June 16, 2016.

Hunter,Rodney J. Dictionaryof Pastoral Care and Counseling.Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1990.

&quotTreatmentApproaches for Drug Addiction&quot. Drugabuse.Gov.Last modified 2016. Accessed June 16, 2016.

1 &quotDrug-Related Hospital Emergency Room Visits&quot, Drugabuse.Gov, last modified 2011, accessed June 16, 2016,

2 &quotDrug-Related Hospital Emergency Room Visits&quot,&nbspDrugabuse.Gov, last modified 2011, accessed June 16, 2016,

3 Ibid

4 Rodney J Hunter, Dictionary Of Pastoral Care And Counseling (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1990).

5 &quotDrug-Related Hospital Emergency Room Visits&quot,&nbspDrugabuse.Gov, last modified 2011, accessed June 16, 2016,

6 Rodney J Hunter, Dictionary Of Pastoral Care And Counseling (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1990).

7 Rodney J Hunter, Dictionary Of Pastoral Care And Counseling (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1990).

8 &quotDrug-Related Hospital Emergency Room Visits&quot,&nbspDrugabuse.Gov, last modified 2011, accessed June 16, 2016,

9 &quotDrug-Related Hospital Emergency Room Visits&quot,&nbspDrugabuse.Gov, last modified 2011, accessed June 16, 2016,