NIH Resource on Drug Addiction Treatment

Jan 20, 2012, 7:30 PM, Posted by NewPublicHealth

A key focus of this week’s Public Health Law Research Annual Meeting is the increase in drug overdoses. A recent report from the National Center for Health Statistics found that more Americans now die from drug overdoses, in particular overdoses of abused prescription drugs, than in car accidents. Treatment, say experts, is the only way to reduce the deadly trend, and both consumers and public health officials will find a new resource, Seeking Drug Abuse Treatment: Know What to Ask, from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) helpful to frame questions before choosing a treatment facility.

"Treatment options can vary considerably, and families often don't know where to begin," says NIDA Director Dr. Nora D. Volkow. "This booklet highlights the treatment components that research have shown are critical for success, to help people make an informed [treatment] choice.”

Key questions include:

  • Is the program's treatment plan backed by scientific evidence?
  • Is the program tailored to the individual needs of each patient?
  • Does the program assess and adapt treatment as the patient's needs change?
  • How long should the treatment take?
  • How do 12 step programs fit into drug addiction treatment?

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in 2010 an estimated 22.1 million persons aged 12 years or older were classified with substance dependence or abuse in the past year (8.7 percent of the population aged 12 or older). Dr. Volkow says the goal of drug abuse treatment is to stop drug use and help people return to productive functioning in the family, workplace, and community. However, keeping patients in treatment long enough to achieve that goal can be difficult, says Dr. Volkow, and finding the right treatment for an individual's specific needs is critical.

The new NIDA resource also describes available medications and evidence-based behavioral therapies, the need for comprehensive, tailored, and sustained treatment and the role of community-level support.

Hard copies of the new treatment guide can be ordered by calling 1-877-NIDA-NIH (1-877-643-2644) or by going online.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.