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


Treatment for drug addictions often includes a detoxification phase for the "physical" aspect of dependence, either in an outpatient or residential format (detoxification units, mainly treating the forms of drug dependence for which effective medicines are available with psychotropic drugs), and a cessation phase, which involves elements of learning and social inclusion, and for which pharmacological support can sometimes be useful. So pharmacology tends to have a preponderant role in detoxification, but it is usually an element of support in cessation, with greater or lesser importance and effectiveness depending on the drug involved, the type of treatment used and the person’s characteristics.

Pharmacological treatments cover different objectives in the context of care for drug addiction:

  • Facilitate patient detoxification.
  • Treat symptoms caused by intoxication.
  • Support cessation (preventing relapses, controlling cravings, etc.).
  • Cause aversion to drug use or block certain drug effects.
  • Serve as a basis for strategies to replace the use of drugs obtained on the illegal market by other controlled substances.
  • Treat certain organic or mental problems associated with dependence or abstinence.

The following are the different pharmacological treatment types used in alcohol, opiate and nicotine dependence. To date, there are no pharmacological treatments with proven efficacy in treatment for cocaine and other psychostimulant dependence, which is why no references to this are included. 

Pharmacological treatments for alcohol dependence. +
Pharmacological treatments for opiate dependence. +
Pharmacological treatments for nicotine dependence. +