| Drug = Alcohol & Other Drugs | Copyright & Disclaimer |
Links in GREEN go to pages outside of DrugNet

Click on any DrugNet Subject Heading

DrugNet Home
DrugNet Discussion
Search DrugNet
DrugNet Site Map (Contents Page)
Site Map
DrugNet News, Updates & Events
DrugNet Feedback

Models and Frameworks to
Understand and Manage Drug Use

Below is a brief description of the most commonly referred to models and frameworks of drug use.  These provide different ways of viewing, understanding, planning and reviewing interventions.  Other models (such as moral, pharmacological, developmental, behavioural, psychodynamic, etc) can also be used to explain drug use but are not mentioned further here.

Further information can be accessed by clicking on the links which will take you to downloadable PowerPoint presentations (identified by 'pp' after the link - best with Internet Explorer 4.0 or above & PowerPoint 95 or above ). For more information about the PowerPoint features click on PowerPoint Index.


Models of Drug Use

Social Learning Model
Disease Model

Useful Frameworks

Interaction Framework (DIE)
Shafer's Patterns of Use
Thorley's Framework (Inotx, Reg Use, Dep)
Liver Lover Livelihood Law
Stages of Change
Harm Reduction
Solution Focused Brief Therapy


Models of Drug Use

General Models

bullet Social Learning Model
bullet Drug use is functional with positive and negative consequences
bullet Drug use is learned (and can be 'unlearned')
bullet Social setting important
bullet Controlled use is possible
bullet Disease Model
bullet Genetic predisposition to addiction
bullet Biochemical reaction to alcohol or other drugs
bullet Abstinence required
bullet Use of 12 step programs

Click to go to Top of Page

Useful Frameworks

Interaction Framework (DIE) pp

Three main domains interact to resulting in the drug experience:

Drug (dose, strength, purity, etc)

Individual (age, size, psychology, etc)

Environment (family, culture, socio-economic factors, etc)

Shafer's patterns of drug use

Five grouping reflect different styles of drug use.  Majority of users fit within the first three categories.  However, clinical samples may be over-represented by last two groups.   One stage doesn't necessarily lead to another.

Experimental: Initial, possibly single or short-term use

Social/Recreational: controlled use in a social setting (largest group)

Situational: used for specific reason (eg to study, to calm down before an important interview)

Intensive: binge use (tends to be intermettent - eg adolescent weekend binge drinking)

Compulsive: daily use with signs of dependence - see below.

Thorley's Framework pp

Three, overlapping areas of drug-related problems (beyond simply consumption):

Intoxication: short-term (accidents, overdose, hep C & HIV, domestic violence, etc)

Regular Use: drip, drip, smoke, smoke (organ damage, financial problems)

Dependence: Stuckness & exclusiveness of use (withdrawal, obsession, psychological distress)

Four Ls pp

Four categories of drug-related problems useful as assessment checklist:

Liver (physical and psychological health)

Lover (relationships: family, friends, peers)

Livelihood (employment, recreation, financial, lifestyle)

Law (legal, statutory issues)

Click to go to Top of Page

Stages of Change pp

Five stages described as person moves through change process (process attached to each stage also described)

Pre-contemplation (not thinking about change - either happy user or learned helplessness)

Contemplation (thinking about change)

Preparation (decision and early action plans made)

Action (initial action taken, not yet consolidated)

Maintenance (change over time, changed behaviour replaced by alternatives)

Relapse (not a stage, but a common move back to any former stage)

Harm Reduction

Focus on reducing harms associated with drug use rather than reducing drug use per se.

Use Thorley & 4 Ls to identify harms.

Should not promote drug use.

Can be useful at all stages of change.

Harm Reduction Steps (Problem Solving Approach) Harm Reduction Steps (Problem Solving Approach)

Identify drug-related problem(s)


Brainstorm solutions/options

Choose best solution/s

Try it/them out


Re-plan as necessary

Click to go to Top of Page

Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT)pp

Acknowledge distress but focus on success. Looks for what's working rather than what's broken. Seeks identification of change if problem was not there. Works on 'exceptions to the problem' generated by client's own experience - ie the client has the answers. Key points:

bullet Acknowledge distress but focus on success
bullet If it' working do it more, if it's not do something different
bullet If it aint broken, don't fix it

Some techniques include:

Scaling questions

'Miracle Question'

Exceptions to the problem

Click here for the QIK (The Quick Interview for Kids)

Click here for more SFBT links

Click to go to Top of Page

Related Resources

A Summary of the Evidence Based Practice Indicators for AOD Interventions
Several booklets in PDF form from the WADASO web, based on material by Ali Dale & Ali Marsh
Pub by Best Practice in AOD Working Group - W. Australia

Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide
(PDF 184 KB)
56 pages of drug treatment information including principles of management
National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institutes of Health - USA

PDF format requires Acrobat Reader

Click here to download Acrobat Reader
Click the icon for free download of
Acrobat Reader

Related DrugNet Pages

Comparisons ] Harm Reduction ] [ Treatment Options ]

[ DrugNet Home ] [ Site Map ] [ Drug Links ] [ Feedback ] [ Guest Book ] [ Services ]