STAGE 4. Selecting the theoretical approach

What steps should be completed?

Step 1: Select the theoretical approach or approaches on which the intervention will be based


Unlike prevention programmes, where there is an approximately direct link to one or more theoretical models (approaches), there is rarely any explicit reference to the model (approach) on which addiction treatment programmes are based. However, this does not mean that they do not exist, but simply that they are considered implicit to the type of intervention being carried out.

The theories and models (approaches) that converge in treatment strategies for drug addictions are very diverse, although biological, psychological, sociocultural and comprehensive models (approaches) have the greatest impact and influence, with the latter currently enjoying greater acceptance among professionals in the sector. +

Various criteria can be used to systematise and group the different treatments for drug dependence. For example, according to the place where they are carried out and according to the level of containment required, we can distinguish between outpatient, residential or mixed treatments; with respect to the qualifications of the parties responsible or involved in the process, we can differentiate between professionalised treatments and non-professionalised treatments, based on self-help or participation of former drug users, etc.

We have chosen to use a dual classification system to present the different treatment strategies in a manner that is suitably simple for this tool. This system is based on the nature of the treatment provided and the main substance of abuse that motivates it. In this regard, we should clarify that, although we refer to pharmacological treatments and psychological treatments when presenting the different treatment types, they are neither exclusive nor ancillary to each other, but are an inherent part of the clinical intervention, and are usually combined to achieve the same goals or a series of sequenced goals in the treatment process.

  • Pharmacological treatments. +
  • Psychological treatments. +