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Principles of Treatment for Substance Abuse

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Center for Substance Abuse Treatment identified 14 principles of intensive outpatient treatment. Several principles are adapted from the National Institute on Drug Abuse's Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment.

  1. Make treatment easily accessible.
  2. Remove barriers to treatment.
  3. Utilize the client's existing motivation.
  4. Build trusting and positive relationships between providers and clients.
  5. Prioritize retention in treatment.
  6. Determine and address individual treatment needs.
  7. Provide continuous care.
  8. Monitor abstinence.
  9. Utilize community-based support services.
  10. Incorporate medications if needed.
  11. Educate clients about substance abuse and skills needed for recovery.
  12. Involve family members, employers, and significant others.
  13. Incorporate evidence-based strategies into treatment.
  14. Improve program administration capabilities.

Resources to Learn More

Harm Reduction Coalition
The Harm Reduction Coalition is a national organization that advocates and builds capacity for harm reduction policies, practices, and programs that address the negative effects of drug use. This website describes the coalition's activities and projects, outlines the coalition's principles of harm reduction, and provides resources for those interested in engaging in harm reduction - oriented substance abuse treatment.

Principles of Effective Treatment: A Research-Based Guide
An outline of research-based principles of effective substance abuse treatment, including discussion of the importance of recovery support services, frequently asked questions about substance abuse, and evidence-based models for treating substance abuse.
Organization(s): National Institute of Drug Abuse
Date: 12/2012

Principles of Intensive Outpatient Treatment
Chapter 2 of this Treatment Improvement Protocol summarizes 14 principles of outpatient treatment for substance abuse based on research and findings of an expert panel, including making treatment readily available, building trusting relationships between providers and patients, utilizing evidence-based approaches, and engaging families, employers and significant others. Each subsequent chapter elaborates on each of these 14 principles and provides more specific recommendations for successful substance abuse treatment.
Organization: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Date: 2006