Does Drug Abuse Treatment Work?

The paper starts with stating the fact that drug abuse is a problem of great importance nowadays. Point of view concerning the necessity to solve the given problem is expressed at the beginning of the work. The topicality of the problem is represented by giving the results of the inquiry of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, where three different points of view on the problem of drug abuse treatment are represented. The medical approach to drug abuse treatment is represented in the work. Three stages of the treatment are described – detoxification, rehabilitation, and continuing care. The example from own experience, which represents the effectiveness of treatment, in particular, rehabilitation, is represented. The conclusion about the effectiveness of drug abuse treatment is made.

The problem of drug abuse is of great importance all over the world. The number of drug abusers rises every day. Although every person is taught at school that drugs are dangerous and harmful, it does not stop people from trying drugs. By neglecting warnings of parents, friends, relatives, and teachers, drug abusers gradually damage themselves. They think that drugs make them happy, paint their lives in bright colors, and enhance their mood, though, it is nothing but hallucinations. Drugs only cause harm by provoking such diseases as ulcers, heart attacks, cancer, and even HIV/AIDS. Mental health of drug abusers is also gradually damaged. Thus, in the course of time, it becomes more difficult for drug abusers to remember some things or people, to think quickly and behave adequately. A lot of drug abusers tend to commit suicides or homicides. People, who use drugs, threaten not only themselves but also the society, to which they belong. That is why it is significant for society to take measures in order to reduce the rates of drug abuse. There exist several ways to fight drug abuse among people. This problem can be solved with the help of government (making laws concerning drug abuse more strict), society (holding of meetings aimed at prevention of drug abuse), and medicine (treatment of drug abusers).


However, the point of view, which expresses the necessity to solve the problem of drug abuse, is not supported by all people. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (2003a) carried out a research, which represented three main reasons of people’s unwillingness to fight with drug abusers. The first reason is that people are sure that “’drug issue’ is primary a criminal problem requiring a social-judicial remedy rather than a health problem requiring prevention and treatment” (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2003a, p. 1). Secondly, the majority of people do not believe that health-care intervention can be effective in this case. The last reason is that society realizes that drug abusers harm lives of normal people, that is why people do not want to help them: “Why should a society expend resources to help an individual who may have produced social harms?” (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2003a, p. 1). In my opinion, society should not react to the problem of drug abuse in this way. It turns out to be that the research carried out by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime represents people as egoists. Everyone tries to make anybody else responsible for common problems. The refusal to solve this problem can lead to horrible consequences, and if people do not want to live in the society full of drug abusers, they should take steps to change the situation.

However, how can the situation be changed? As it was mentioned above, there exist several solutions – governmental, social, and medical one. As a governmental way of the problem, solution demands time, and society is not eager to fight with drug abusers, therefore, medical way of problem solving will be discussed. Medicine develops very fast, and health professionals astound with their ability to treat people. They treat numerous diseases, perform a number of operations, and save people’s lives. Certainly, they have not found ways to treat all the existing diseases. Nevertheless, they work on it. As for drug abuse treatment, health professionals found some ways to make people get rid of this addiction. As it was confirmed by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, there exist three main steps of abuse treatment: detoxification/stabilization, rehabilitation, and continuing care.

Researchers are not eager to call detoxification the first stage of treatment. They usually call it preparation stage. The essence of detoxification lies in the following. The drug abuser is supposed to be withdrawn from the desire to get drugs. There exist two types of drug abusers. The first type is the abuser, whose dependence is not strong enough, and they can take the course of detoxification as an outpatient on the community basis. The second type is the abuser with strong dependence, and he/she should be treated in accordance with the residential or inpatient program. In order to reach successful withdrawal, numerous medications, which reduce patient’s abuse, are used. The process of detoxification in accordance with the outpatient program can take from several weeks to several months, while inpatient programs are supposed to be short-term.

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The second stage is rehabilitation. It is also called relapse prevention phase. It takes place after detoxification is done. However, a person, who did not take a course of detoxification, also can take a course of rehabilitation. It is possible when drug abuser did not have withdrawal symptoms. The process of rehabilitation can be of two types: pharmacological interventions and psychological interventions. Pharmacological interventions can be expressed in the form of substitution and maintenance programs, and as antagonist pharmacotherapy. These interventions are aimed at prescribing people, who took the full course of detoxification, medicaments, which block some parts of the brain, responsible for drug abuse. Taking these medicaments can last several months or longer. However, researchers are not sure whether this method is effective enough. They suppose that psychological interventions have a greater effect on drug abusers. Psychological interventions, as well as the process of detoxification, can be carried out in accordance with the community or residential programs. It is evident that the process of psychological rehabilitation is a course of psychotherapy, which is aimed at reaching abstinence among drug users. The program of rehabilitation should be chosen individually, in accordance with the patient’s peculiarities. However, the process of rehabilitation can also be held in groups. The main goal of rehabilitation is to increase understanding and awareness of drug abuser’s behavior. When they are aware that they have such problem as drug abuse, they begin to understand that they should do something in order to be cured. The process of rehabilitation is easier to carry out in the community because drug abusers, who take this course on the community basis, have better developed social skills than those, who hold residential rehabilitation course. Residential programs are supposed to last from one month to one year. It is evident that drug abusers, who take a course of rehabilitation in accordance with the residential program, are more difficult to work with. Such drug abusers have to learn how to live in a society that is why residential rehabilitation programs suppose “communal living with other drug users in recovery; group and individual counseling on relapse prevention; individual case management; improved skills for daily living; training and vocational experience; housing and resettlement services; and aftercare support” (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2003b, p. 5).

In my opinion, the stage of rehabilitation is the most powerful in drug abuse treatment. This stage is aimed at changing abuser’s consciousness, which leads to his/her recovery. Certainly, as this stage suggests working on people’s psyche, their emotions, and feelings, one should be very cautious during this process. However, the benefit of rehabilitation is that it can be of different types. As it was mentioned above, people can be treated on community or residential basis. If people take the course of rehabilitation on a residential basis, healthcare professionals help them cope with their abuse. A number of professional physicians and psychologists work on their well-being. If people take a community-based rehabilitation course, they meet not only healthcare professionals. This type of rehabilitation can involve family members, relatives or friends in order to help drug abusers to recover. I believe that the process of rehabilitation is really beneficial for drug abusers. First of all, a psychologist choose rehabilitation course, which is individual for every abuser. As every person is different, it is necessary to develop an individual scheme of work. After a psychologist determined all the peculiarities of a patient, family members and friends can join the process of rehabilitation. I believe that these people can influence their native people best. One more factor, which can help a person to fight drug abuse, is his/her willpower. Life is a difficult thing, and no one has a right to judge people for their actions. If a person did wrong once, it is not necessary that he/she will repeat the mistake. A person can try drugs one time, perhaps even against his/her own free will, but after understanding all the harm drugs can cause, a person can be decisive enough to stop using drugs. I believe that people can fight this abuse. The only condition, which should be observed, is not to leave a person alone in such a situation. Here is an example of how a person can be treated when he/she has support. One day I noticed that one of my friends began to behave in a strange way. He stopped spending time with our common acquaintances, began to skip classes, found new strange friends, walked at nights, and did not want to communicate. As it turned out, one of his new friends offered him to try morphine. I do not know how, but he agreed. At first he tried to hide it from his family, but, at last, his mother noticed it. She acted in a wise way as she did not shout at him but addressed the psychologist for help. As my friend did not have a strong addiction at that time, he was treated quickly. The psychologist developed a scheme, which involved the participation of his, mother’s, my friend’s sister, and his best friend’s in the course of rehabilitation. Now my friend is completely recovered. Certainly, social workers visit him once a month in order to check whether everything is alright. My friend does not like their visits, but the main thing is that he managed to fight drug abuse.


The last step of drug abuse treatment is continuing care or aftercare arrangements. It is a continuation of the rehabilitation stage. This stage is aimed at monitoring the psychological state of people, who are recovering, in order to provide their absolute cure. This stage of drug abuse treatment is carried out in community settings as people, who used drugs are supposed to be almost treated. At this stage, some individual, group or family therapy sessions can take place. However, there is no need to make them as frequent as they were at the rehabilitation stage. As a rule, continuing care lasts from six to twelve months. After the end of this stage, it is supposed that people, who were treated, have fought their drug abuse, and can lead a normal life.

After taking a closer look at drug abuse treatment, the conclusion about its effectiveness can be made. Certainly, as well as a number of problems, which are of great importance for humanity, this one is disputable. First of all, a lot of people do not think that the problem of drug abuse should be solved with the help of medicine. Some people do not believe in medicine at all. The rest of population, which took part in the inquiry concerning this question, expressed the point of view, which was shocking  – they were sure that drug abusers should not be treated at all because they do harm the society. However, I believe that drug abusers need help, and medical treatment is an effective solution. It is confirmed not only by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime – people can see examples when drug abusers fought their vicious habit. What is also important is that drug abuse is not one’s personal affair – it is the affair of the whole society. People are egoists, and they do not care until this problem touches someone of their relatives. However, terrible events can happen with everyone. That is why people should think of others because at some point of life they may feel the same indifference from someone.

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