Abstinence-based drug treatment programs

Written by christy bowles
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Abstinence-based drug treatment programs
Abstinence-based drug treatment programs require patients to stop the use of substances. (stethoscope & drugs image by Olaru Radian-Alexandru from Fotolia.com)

Abstinence-based drug treatment programs focus on the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction through counselling and support programs that help individuals stop addictive behaviours. Patients in abstinence-based programs are expected to stop using and intoxicating substances. Programs offer counselling and medical support to help patients stay drug-free.


Drug treatment programs offer medical and psychological resources to individuals who are suffering from addictions. In the case of serious addictions, these programs allow patients to safely stop the use of substances without the medical risks that accompany withdrawal. In abstinence-based programs the central goal is to help patients stop the use of intoxicating substances.


Drug and alcohol treatment programs include in-patient residential programs as well as outpatient and 12-step recovery meetings. Patients are supported through a mixture of individual and group counselling services, and, if necessary, they may use prescription medications to help with withdrawal. The goal of these recovery programs is to help patients live drug-free. The severity of the addiction usually determines whether an individual will need in-patient or out-patient treatment.


A key feature of most abstinence-based treatment is the 12-step program, which is widely used by Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, in which participants take part in group support meetings in an effort to stay abstinent. Group meetings, discussion and one-to-one support are seen as essential to the recovery process. Most of these programs stress that individuals in recovery must abstain from use in order to be successful in the recovery process.

Time Frame

There is no set time frame for an abstinence-based recovery program. Each individual has a unique medical and psychological response to treatment, and some people respond to treatment more rapidly than others. People who are actively involved in an abstinence-based recovery program typically abstain from drug or alcohol on a permanent basis.


Many experts highlight the physical and psychological benefits of abstinence-based recovery programs. Many intoxicating substances have psychological side-effects, and when a patient stops using the substance his overall mental and physical health will improve. In addition, patients can be more consistently and actively involved in the individual and group counselling process when they are not intoxicated.

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