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As we know, a key part of effective substance abuse treatment can include emotional or cognitive therapies – helping people manage parts of their lives that just might be at the center of their addition challenges.

How effective can these approaches be? A 2017 research study offers useful insights.

The study is titled “Psychosocial interventions for cocaine and psychostimulant amphetamines related disorders,” and is part of theNational Drugs Library, an Ireland-based “information resource for researchers, policy makers, and people working in the areas of drug or alcohol use and addiction, or related fields.”

The authors note: “Psychostimulants such as amphetamines and cocaine are used, at least in part, because of their effects on mood, cognition and behavior. People who abuse or are dependent on them often have a long history of repeated periods of intoxication and of withdrawal and after long-term use they can develop a stereotyped behavior, paranoia, and aggressive behavior.”

To evaluate the effectiveness of various treatment efforts, the researchers “identified 27 randomized controlled studies involving 3663 participants who were dependent on cocaine (crack or intravenous) in all but one Australian trial where oral amphetamine was the psychostimulant used. The other trials took place in the US.” The trials ranged from 12 weeks to nine months in duration.

How did the cognitive approaches work?  The behavioral approaches seemed to make a difference:

  • “Overall, cognitive behavioral interventions reduced dropouts from treatment and use of cocaine when compared with drug counseling.”
  • “Behavioral interventions also clearly performed better than clinical management (psychotherapy sessions attended), usual care (lower rates of cocaine users at 1 and 3 months), information and referral (non-attendance).“
  • “A multimodal intensive intervention was more effective than non-intensive delivery and cognitive behavioral treatments with some form of contingency management (involving the incentive of vouchers that are exchangeable for retail items) also showed benefits.”

The bottom line: Effective substance abuse treatment can include cognitive behavioral approaches