Addiction counselors tolerate moderate substance abuse in patients

Published on November 9, 2012 at 5:15 PM · No Comments

By Piriya Mahendra, medwireNews Reporter

Nearly half of alcohol and drug addiction counselors now find it acceptable for their patients to drink or take drugs occasionally, a survey has found.

The survey of 913 members of the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Counselors from the USA showed that approximately 50% of respondents believe it would be acceptable if their alcohol abuse clients wanted to limit their drinking rather than completely abstain.

However, in an earlier survey published in 1994, only 25% of administrators of substance abuse treatment agencies believed that moderate drinking was acceptable.

As reported in Psychology of Addictive Disorders, around half the counselors in the current survey accepted moderate drug use as an intermediate goal and one-third as a final goal. The authors say this finding is similar to that of a similar survey conducted 10 years ago.

"Individuals with alcohol and drug problems who avoid treatment because they are ambivalent about abstinence should know that - depending on the severity of their condition, the finality of their outcome goal, and their drug of choice - their interest in moderating their consumption will be acceptable to many addiction professionals working in outpatient and independent practice settings," said co-author Alan Davis (Bowling Green State University, Ohio, USA) in a press statement.

The authors found that the responses of counselors differed according to whether their patients had substance abuse or substance dependence. Indeed, three-quarters of respondents said they would not approve of limited or moderate consumption of alcohol or drugs as an intermediate or final treatment goal in patients with alcohol or drug dependence.

The counselors who would not accept any substance consumption by their patients said they felt this way because they thought acceptance would send the wrong message, is ineffective, and inconsistent with their treatment philosophy. They also said it was important to consider a patient's health, age, emotional stability, and drug of choice to evaluate when clients should limit or moderate their substance use.

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