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Substance Use Disorder Treatment Models

There are several evidence-based and promising approaches to treat substance use disorder (SUD). SUD treatment can be delivered in outpatient settings or as part of an intensive inpatient or residential treatment setting. Residential treatment settings vary in structure, length of program, and whether or not they contain detoxification services. Treatment programs tend to begin with intensive services, then transition to outpatient settings in order to maintain recovery.

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

  • Make treatment easily accessible.
  • Remove barriers to treatment.
  • Utilize the client's existing motivation.
  • Build trusting and positive relationships between providers and clients.
  • Prioritize retention in treatment.
  • Determine and address individual treatment needs.
  • Provide continuous care.
  • Monitor abstinence.
  • Utilize community-based support services.
  • Incorporate medications, if needed.
  • Educate clients about substance use disorder and skills needed for recovery.
  • Involve family members, employers, and significant others.
  • Incorporate evidence-based strategies into treatment.
  • Improve program administration capabilities.

Three of the SUD treatment models in this section focus on the content of the screening or treatment program. These include:

Three different SUD treatment models in this section focus on how treatment might be delivered to rural communities. These are referred to as Care Delivery Models and include:

Resources to Learn More

Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide
Outlines research-based principles of effective treatment for drug addiction. Includes information about the types of treatment, the importance of recovery support services, and identifies evidence-based models for treatment. Provides frequently asked questions (FAQs) for additional information on addiction treatment.
Organization(s): National Institute of Drug Abuse
Date: 1/2014

Substance Abuse: Clinical Issues in Intensive Outpatient Treatment, Chapter 2 – Principles of Intensive Outpatient Treatment
This chapter summarizes 14 guiding principles of outpatient treatment based on addiction research and clinical experience. Offers specific recommendations for successful SUD treatment.
Organization: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Date: 2006