A toolbox for drug abuse treatment

Drug abuse has been linked to 72 risk factors, including individual, family and societal issues, according to Alan I. Leshner, Ph.D., director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Yet most drug abusers, he said, fall into one of two categories. Some use drugs as a novelty. Others “self-medicate” to normalize a troubled emotional state. “We have paid far too little attention to the distinction between them in treatment strategies,” said Leshner, the keynote speaker in September at a symposium, “Innovations in Drug Abuse Treatment: From Research to Practice,” sponsored by the School of Medicine and the Department of Psychiatry, which is participating in two national studies on tobacco and drug abuse. “Treatment has to be tailored to individual needs,” Leshner said. “There is no ‘one size fits all.’”

At the symposium he unveiled the NIDA Clinical Toolbox: Science-Based Materials for Drug Abuse Counselors, a collection of therapy resources. “It is a toolbox that might be used by practitioners to take the science we have supported and make it usable in ongoing treatment,” Leshner said.