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Comparison of Approaches

Several models for understanding and intervening in drug use have been developed. While all of these have their strengths and weaknesses, clinicians should have some appreciation of the differences in these views.

The table below briefly outlines broad differences between the general thrust of 'traditional' approach with 'contemporary' approaches. All approaches have value in the drug field. The aim of this comparison is to broaden options.

Click on to models and frameworks of drug use for a summary table and dot point information.

See also Project MATCH (USA) for ordering details of free Manuals on Twelve Step Facilitation Therapy, Motivational Enhancement Therapy and Cognitive-Behavioural Coping Skills Therapy as well as other material such as improving compliance.

Traditional and Contemporary Approaches

Traditional Approach

Contemporary Approach

Drugs are bad Drugs are functional with positive and negative consequences
Assess if an individual is an addict/alcoholic Assess for problems such as:
Intoxication, Regular Use & Dependence;
Liver, Lover, Livelihood, Law
Treatment = Abstinence Controlled use possible

Decrease problems & risks of problems

Harm Reduction

Improve lifestyle

May also include abstinence

Progressive disease & must hit rock bottom for treatment to work Primarily a learned behaviour (initially from drug using adults)

Early intervention stressed

Clients are in denial. Confrontation required to break through denial. Clients at different stage of change

Skills to enhance motivation

Generic counselling skills are most useful

Specialist area General area for intervention including non-drug specialists

Principles are same for many other behavioural processes

Individual focus Drug, Individual & Environment (environment = politics, laws, socio-economic issues, policies, agency, etc.)
Focus on Illegal Drugs Focus on all psychoactive drugs.

Alcohol and Tobacco often referred to because high levels of harm associated with their use.

One drink = one drunk,

One 'hit' = one addict

Drug use can be controlled

A 'lapse' can be prevented from becoming a full relapse.

Relapse is normal

Related Internet Sites

[ Project MATCH ]

Related Resource

Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide
(PDF 184 KB)
Click here to download Acrobat Reader

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Introduction ] [ Comparisons ] Harm Reduction ]

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