Treatments and Therapies for Rehabilitating Drug Offenders
Lindsey Wilson College
Treatments and Therapies for Rehabilitating Drug Offenders
Substance abuse is rampant. Drug offenders turn to substance use for a coping mechanism when dealing with problems in all areas in life. Usually they become addicted to the substance and the addiction acts as a disease. There is no cure for addiction, however, there is a variety of treatments and therapies available to help rehabilitate those suffering with addiction. Group therapy, cue-exposure interventions, and third wave interventions are a few of the different types of treatments and therapies that have been successful in rehabilitating patients and lowering the instances of relapse. The various therapies share the common foundation that drug use will not end until the patient has developed healthy alternative coping mechanisms to deal with their individual problems instead of turning to substance abuse. It may take a variety of treatments and therapies to successfully be rehabilitated since each person is unique and has different reasons for turning to substance to escape life’s problems.
Substance Use and Addiction
People with Substance Use Disorders (SUDs) are known to face several problems in almost all areas of life, including medical, social, emotional, financial, legal, and so on (Ambedkar ; Mongia, 2018). According to a 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health done by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration “about 9% of Americans meet the diagnostic criteria for a SUD (6% for alcohol and 3% for illicit drugs), making it one of the most common chronic diseases in the United States” (SAMHSA, 2015). There can be many negative health consequences of a SUD, which include organ damage, infections, motor vehicle accidents, and mental illness. These can lead to crime, domestic violence and child abuse, incarceration, and homicide. It is very costly not only to the offender but to society. Economic costs of SUDs have been estimated at nearly $500 billion annually (Maughan, et al., 2015). A SUD is a chronic disease, like diabetes or COPD, that will become worse over time and is, if untreated, ultimately fatal (Compton ; Chang, 2016).
Therapy and Treatments
Since it often takes several different kinds of therapy and treatments to successfully rehabilitate drug offenders, we will be discussing three common and specific kinds. Group therapy where several other people with the same issues and a therapist meet and learn to talk about their issues. Cue-exposure helps individuals learn how to deal with certain scenarios and third wave interventions focus on change and acceptance.
Group therapy is a form of treatment in which emotionally disturbed persons are placed in a group, guided by one or more therapists for the purpose of helping individuals to bring a change to themselves. When individuals participate in group therapy, they learn to cope with their problems more effectively. Group therapy is considered one of the promising psychosocial treatment modalities which is practiced in clinical setting for persons with emotional problems or mental health issues by qualified mental health professionals. The group therapist is an active participant of the group and helps its members to understand their individual problems as well as interpersonal problems. Group therapy focuses on the reduction in negative symptoms, poor motivation, as well as improvement in social functioning, better adjustment and improved interpersonal relationship skills (Ezhumalai et al., 2018).
Group therapies can serve a variety of functions. They can be corrective, developmental, educative, preventive, recreational, and therapeutic. When forming a group, research shows that to achieve the best results the individuals should have similar problems, and the group, should consist of at lease 2 but not more than 15, have enough seating for each member and when a member is absent, have the individual’s chair still in the group. Depending on the needs of the group it can meet from once a week to daily ranging from 45 to 90 minutes per session. A group can meet up to six months (Ezhumalai, et al., 2018).
Each phase of group therapy serves a different purpose directed towards recovery. The five phases of closed group development include forming, norming, storming, performing and adjourning. In the first phase members get to know each other and learn how the group is going to work. During the second phase, norming, the group establishes cohesiveness and commitment. In the storming phase, conflicts begin to arise, and member resist the influence of the group and rebel against accomplishing their tasks (Ezhumalai, et al., 2018). In the performing phase the group has learned to work together to meet their goals and the adjourning phase the group disbands. The most favorable factor perceived by persons with SUD in group intervention is catharsis, followed by group cohesiveness and interpersonal learning. Patients who received group intervention for 15 sessions or more had a significantly more favorable outcome rate than those who received other modes of treatment, specifically in terms of a lesser relapse rate. It was observed that patients who are actively involved and participated in the group intervention have a much lower relapse rate than those who are merely involved in pharmacological and individual intervention (Ezhumalai, et al., 2018).
In many cases when recovering individuals get back into society they tend to relapse. Using cue-exposure in rehabilitation can lower the risk of relapse. While in a safe environment the individual is given a high-risk scenario (cue) and taught skills to deal successfully. There are various technological resources to provide the patient with cue-exposures like online resources, virtual reality and 3D animation (Nattala, et al., 2018). The best tool for this is videos since they are more accessible than the other resources. After viewing the videos, the individual is taught how to respond to the situation to prevent relapse.
Third Wave Interventions
Third Wave Interventions as mentioned earlier, drug offenders turn to drug use to deal with emotional, behavioral and persona challenges. When it comes to substance use disorders, more often than not patients struggle with co-occurring disorders. It is well known now that individuals with personality vulnerabilities such as impulsivity, rusk taking, or it converse, avoidance, neuroticism are more likely to experiment with substances such as marijuana. Third wave therapies have therefore expanded or modified traditional approaches to include interventions such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Metacognitive Therapy, Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention and Dual Focused Schema Therapy (Narayana & Naaz, 2018).
Third wave therapies allow for a broader scope to understand an individual, and thus tailor treatment more precisely. These therapies focus on the person’s self-concept, their relationships, and ability to find meaning and purpose in life. Third wave therapies are aimed at teaching clients’ skills that focus on two main objectives: change and acceptance (Narayana & Naaz, 2018). Some strategies used to teach acceptance is reality orientation, observing and describing thoughts, emotions, behaviors and environments in a non-judgmental manner. Cognitive restructuring, exposure, contingency management and problem-solving skills are all involved with change strategies. The overall outcome of therapy is to develop a strong sense of self-awareness and then eventually build new meanings to a person’s life. Sessions can span over a year depending on the needs of the client (Narayanan ; Naaz, 2018).
Substance use disorder is very costly to not only the drug offender but to society. That is why treatment should focus more on successful rehabilitation. When rehabilitating drug offenders, it is important to recognize that they have become addicted to a drug and addiction is a disease. Like other diseases there are treatments and therapies, but no cures, so the person must learn to cope with it by other means besides substance use. Group therapy, cue-wave interventions and third wave therapies are just a few of the treatments and therapies available today. Many drug offenders will need to incorporate more than one therapy to be successful in rehabilitation and lower the risk of relapse. These therapies teach drug offenders how to cope with emotional, behavioral and personal issues in other ways and not to turn to drugs for the solution.
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