Substance abuse, including tobacco use and nicotine addiction, is associated with a wide range of serious health and social problems. Recent epidemiological evidence demonstrates that 72 conditions requiring inpatient treatment are wholly or partially attributable to substance abuse. Consequently, the estimated annual cost for health care, law enforcement, motor vehicle crashes, crime, and lost productivity due to substance abuse is nearly 1 thousand dollars for every American citizen, including children (Austin, 2005). Such disturbing situation with substance abuse can not but appeal for immediate and effective actions from the government and local authorities.
Although the problem is not new, the search for the most effective methods of coping with substance abuse is far from being over. Many different prevention and treatment options have been proposed up to date, but none of them can be addressed as the most effective. Partially this is due to the fact that substance abuse is a condition with extremely complex and often controversial etiology; partially due to lack of serious scientific research exploring specific mechanisms of recovery. The increasing use of psychotherapeutic interventions in both prevention and treatment of substance abuse suggests that modern researchers and practitioners are taking efforts to deal with the problem more effectively than before. This paper provides an overview of the most widely used type of interventions in treatment of substance abuse, namely psychological counseling.
Despite the long history of use a lot of issues related to psychological counseling in treatment of substance abuse still remain poorly explored or unknown. There is one major reason for such situation listed in the substance abuse literature: counseling research projects have often been denied funding due to inability of the researchers to convince the funding authorities that their research standards for scientific investigation meet the conventional standards. Unfortunately, specifics of psychological research makes this task extremely complex: even the most fundamental traditional standard of experimental investigation, the double-blind method, is a "virtual impossibility in comparative psychotherapy research" (Onken & Blaine, 1990: 1). Instead, most of the research in the field has focused on medication treatments for substance abuse even despite the fact though non-pharmacological interventions (such as psychotherapy) are used more frequently, either alone or in combination with other methods of treatment (Carroll, 1998). However, the lack of funding have not prevented the researchers and practitioners from designing a number of psychological and psychosocial intervention strategies for treatment of substance abuse.
Although the philosophies underlying various kinds of treatment are vastly different, almost all of them include, in some or other form, psychological counseling that has been used in substance abuse recovery and prevention programs since long ago. Thus, already in the early 1980s individual psychotherapy or psychological counseling were available in a stunning 99 % of the drug-free, methadone-maintenance, and multiple-modality drug abuse treatment units and almost 97 percent of the detoxification units in this United States (National Drug and