Behavioral approaches help engage people in drug abuse treatment, provide incentives for them to remain abstinent, modify their attitudes and behaviors related to drug abuse, and increase their life skills to handle stressful circumstances and environmental cues that may trigger intense craving for drugs and prompt another cycle of compulsive abuse.
There are a variety of different behavior therapies that can help individuals dealing with addiction including:
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) was developed as a method to prevent relapse when treating problem drinking, and later it was adapted for cocaine-addicted individuals. Cognitive-behavioral strategies are based on the theory that in the development of maladaptive behavioral patterns like substance abuse, learning processes play a critical role. Individuals in CBT learn to identify and correct problematic behaviors by applying a range of different skills that can be used to stop drug abuse and to address a range of other problems that often co-occur with it.
A central element of CBT is anticipating likely problems and enhancing patients’ self-control by helping them develop effective coping strategies. Specific techniques include exploring the positive and negative consequences of continued drug use, self-monitoring to recognize cravings early and identify situations that might put one at risk for use, and developing strategies for coping with cravings and avoiding those high-risk situations.
Research indicates that the skills individuals learn through cognitive-behavioral approaches remain after the completion of treatment. Current research focuses on how to produce even more powerful effects by combining CBT with medications for drug abuse and with other types of behavioral therapies. A computer-based CBT system has also been developed and has been shown to be effective in helping reduce drug use following standard drug abuse treatment.
Research has demonstrated the effectiveness of treatment approaches using contingency management (CM) principles, which involve giving patients tangible rewards to reinforce positive behaviors such as abstinence. Studies conducted in both methadone programs and psychosocial counseling treatment programs demonstrate that incentive-based interventions are highly effective in increasing treatment retention and promoting abstinence from drugs.
Voucher-Based Reinforcement (VBR) augments other community-based treatments for adults who primarily abuse opioids (especially heroin) or stimulants (especially cocaine) or both. In VBR, the patient receives a voucher for every drug-free urine sample provided. The voucher has monetary value that can be exchanged for food items, movie passes, or other goods or services that are consistent with a drug-free lifestyle. The voucher values are low at first, but increase as the number of consecutive drug-free urine samples increases; positive urine samples reset the value of the vouchers to the initial low value. VBR has been shown to be effective in promoting abstinence from opioids and cocaine in patients undergoing methadone detoxification.
Prize Incentives CM applies similar principles as VBR but uses chances to win cash prizes instead of vouchers. Over the course of the program (at least 3 months, one or more times weekly), participants supplying drug-negative urine or breath tests draw from a bowl for the chance to win a prize worth between $1 and $100. Participants may also receive draws for attending counseling sessions and completing weekly goal-related activities. The number of draws starts at one and increases with consecutive negative drug tests and/or counseling sessions attended but resets to one with any drug-positive sample or unexcused absence. The practitioner community has raised concerns that this intervention could promote gambling—as it contains an element of chance—and that pathological gambling and substance use disorders can be comorbid. However, studies examining this concern found that Prize Incentives CM did not promote gambling behavior.
Community Reinforcement Approach (CRA) Plus Vouchers is an intensive 24-week outpatient therapy for treating people addicted to cocaine and alcohol. It uses a range of recreational, familial, social, and vocational reinforcers, along with material incentives, to make a non-drug-using lifestyle more rewarding than substance use. The treatment goals are twofold:
Patients attend one or two individual counseling sessions each week, where they focus on improving family relations, learn a variety of skills to minimize drug use, receive vocational counseling, and develop new recreational activities and social networks. Those who also abuse alcohol receive clinic-monitored disulfiram (Antabuse) therapy. Patients submit urine samples two or three times each week and receive vouchers for cocaine-negative samples. As in VBR, the value of the vouchers increases with consecutive clean samples, and the vouchers may be exchanged for retail goods that are consistent with a drug-free lifestyle. Studies in both urban and rural areas have found that this approach facilitates patients’ engagement in treatment and successfully aids them in gaining substantial periods of cocaine abstinence.
A computer-based version of CRA Plus Vouchers called the Therapeutic Education System (TES) was found to be nearly as effective as treatment administered by a therapist in promoting abstinence from opioids and cocaine among opioid-dependent individuals in outpatient treatment. A version of CRA for adolescents addresses problem-solving, coping, and communication skills and encourages active participation in positive social and recreational activities.
Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) is a counseling approach that helps individuals resolve their ambivalence about engaging in treatment and stopping their drug use. This approach aims to evoke rapid and internally motivated change, rather than guide the patient stepwise through the recovery process. This therapy consists of an initial assessment battery session, followed by two to four individual treatment sessions with a therapist. In the first treatment session, the therapist provides feedback to the initial assessment, stimulating discussion about personal substance use and eliciting self-motivational statements. Motivational interviewing principles are used to strengthen motivation and build a plan for change. Coping strategies for high-risk situations are suggested and discussed with the patient. In subsequent sessions, the therapist monitors change, reviews cessation strategies being used, and continues to encourage commitment to change or sustained abstinence. Patients sometimes are encouraged to bring a significant other to sessions.
Research on MET suggests that its effects depend on the type of drug used by participants and on the goal of the intervention. This approach has been used successfully with people addicted to alcohol to both improve their engagement in treatment and reduce their problem drinking. MET has also been used successfully with marijuana-dependent adults when combined with cognitive-behavioral therapy, constituting a more comprehensive treatment approach. The results of MET are mixed for people abusing other drugs (e.g., heroin, cocaine, nicotine) and for adolescents who tend to use multiple drugs. In general, MET seems to be more effective for engaging drug abusers in treatment than for producing changes in drug use.
The Matrix Model provides a framework for engaging stimulant (e.g., methamphetamine and cocaine) abusers in treatment and helping them achieve abstinence. Patients learn about issues critical to addiction and relapse, receive direction and support from a trained therapist, and become familiar with self-help programs. Patients are monitored for drug use through urine testing.
The therapist functions simultaneously as a teacher and coach, fostering a positive, encouraging relationship with the patient and using that relationship to reinforce positive behavior change. The interaction between the therapist and the patient is authentic and direct but not confrontational or parental. Therapists are trained to conduct treatment sessions in a way that promotes the patient’s self-esteem, dignity, and self-worth. A positive relationship between patient and therapist is critical to patient retention.
Treatment materials draw heavily on other tested treatment approaches and, thus, include elements of relapse prevention, family and group therapies, drug education, and self-help participation. Detailed treatment manuals contain worksheets for individual sessions; other components include family education groups, early recovery skills groups, relapse prevention groups, combined sessions, urine tests, 12-step programs, relapse analysis, and social support groups.
A number of studies have demonstrated that participants treated using the Matrix Model show statistically significant reductions in drug and alcohol use, improvements in psychological indicators, and reduced risky sexual behaviors associated with HIV transmission.
Twelve-step facilitation therapy is an active engagement strategy designed to increase the likelihood of a substance abuser becoming affiliated with and actively involved in 12-step self-help groups, thereby promoting abstinence. Three key ideas predominate (1) acceptance, which includes the realization that drug addiction is a chronic, progressive disease over which one has no control, that life has become unmanageable because of drugs, that willpower alone is insufficient to overcome the problem, and that abstinence is the only alternative; (2) surrender, which involves giving oneself over to a higher power, accepting the fellowship and support structure of other recovering addicted individuals, and following the recovery activities laid out by the 12-step program; and (3) active involvement in 12-step meetings and related activities. While the efficacy of 12-step programs (and 12-step facilitation) in treating alcohol dependence has been established, the research on its usefulness for other forms of substance abuse is more preliminary, but the treatment appears promising for helping drug abusers sustain recovery.
Family Behavior Therapy (FBT), which has demonstrated positive results in both adults and adolescents, is aimed at addressing not only substance use problems but other co-occurring problems as well, such as conduct disorders, child mistreatment, depression, family conflict, and unemployment. FBT combines behavioral contracting with contingency management.
FBT involves the patient along with at least one significant other such as a cohabiting partner or a parent (in the case of minors). Therapists seek to engage families in applying the behavioral strategies taught in sessions and in acquiring new skills to improve the home environment. Patients are encouraged to develop behavioral goals for preventing substance use and HIV infection, which are anchored to a contingency management system. Substance-abusing parents are prompted to set goals related to effective parenting behaviors. During each session, the behavioral goals are reviewed, with rewards provided by significant others when goals are accomplished. Patients participate in treatment planning, choosing specific interventions from a menu of evidence-based treatment options. In a series of comparisons involving adolescents with and without conduct disorder, FBT was found to be more effective than supportive counseling.
Information Provided Above is Courtesy of:https://www.drugabuse.gov