Editor’s Note: The journal Addiction occasionally features critical perspectives on debates in addiction studies. Below is a selection of recent publications dealing with topical issues in the field.
Background and Aims: Clinical guidelines from around the world recommend the delivery of psychosocial interventions as part of routine care in opiate substitution treatment (OST) programmes. However, although individual studies demonstrate benefit for structured psychosocial interventions, meta-analytical reviews find no benefit for manual-based treatments beyond ‘routine counselling’.
Analysis: We consider the question of whether OST medication alone is sufficient to produce the required outcomes, or whether greater efforts should be made to provide high-quality psychosocial treatment alongside medication. In so doing, we consider the nuances and limitations of the evidence and the organizational barriers to transferring it into routine practice.
Conclusion: The evidence base for psychosocial interventions in opiate substitution treatment (OST) services can be interpreted both positively and negatively. Steering a path between overly optimistic or nihilistic interpretations of the value of psychosocial treatment in OST programmes is the most pragmatic approach. Greater attention should be paid to elements common to all psychological treatments (such as therapeutic alliance), but also to the sequencing and packaging of psychosocial elements and their linkage to peer-led interventions.
Background: Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a world-wide recovery mutual-help organization that continues to arouse controversy. In large part, concerns persist because of AA’s ostensibly quasi-religious/spiritual orientation and emphasis. In 1990 the United States’ Institute of Medicine called for more studies on AA’s effectiveness and its mechanisms of behavior change (MOBC) stimulating a flurry of federally funded research. This paper reviews the religious/spiritual origins of AA and its program and contrasts its theory with findings from this latest research.