Treatment for drug dependence

D. C. Des Jarlais, R. Hubbard

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Drug abuse treatment is a major method for reducing the health and social problems associated with dependence on psychoactive drugs. Drug dependence is very well established in the United States, where cyclical rises and falls in the use of different drugs often occur. Heroin and cocaine use are spreading rapidly throughout the world as a whole, particularly in developing countries. The need for effective treatments for drug dependence is likely to increase in the foreseeable future. Currently three major forms of long-term drug abuse treatment exist: methadone maintenance, in which an agonist medication is used to normalize physiological functioning; residential therapeutic communities, which are based on 'resocializing' the drug user; and outpatient drug-free programs, which utilize a wide variety of counseling and psychotherapy approaches. Multiple large treatment outcome studies have been conducted among persons receiving treatment for drug dependence and have shown consistent effects in reducing the use of psychoactive drugs, though complete elimination of drug use is an infrequent outcome. Length of time in drug treatment is the best single predictor of positive post-treatment outcomes. HIV infection has become an extremely important adverse consequence associated with the injection of psychoactive drugs. Multiple studies have shown that drug abuse treatment is an effective method for preventing HIV infection among injecting drug users.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-130
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the Association of American Physicians
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999


  • Addiction
  • Cocaine
  • HIV
  • Heroin
  • Substance abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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