Substance Abuse Treatment in the Past Decade

Among health services, psychotherapy for emotional issues is generally grouped in the same category as counseling for substance abuse. This is because the myriad reasons that people find a therapist—from depression and anxiety to divorce and loneliness—are often the same factors that drive people to rely on drugs or alcohol to get through the day. In many cases, entering therapy or counseling may be the deterrent that keeps a person from descending into addiction. A counselor works with clients to help them understand connections between their past and present, and to help provide healthy coping mechanisms and personal tools to create their desired future.

People who need therapy but do not get it may turn to drugs or alcohol as makeshift coping mechanisms. Before long, a chemical addiction takes over and becomes a co-driving factor in the person’s self-harming behavior. Soon, the counseling they need is twofold: to work through the addiction itself, and then to address underlying psychological and emotional issues that may have led to the substance abuse in the first place.

The Substances Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has recently released a comparison study of addiction treatment trends between 1998 and 2008. In that decade, the overall rate of people admitted to substance abuse programs stayed about the same. However, the types of treatment they were seeking changed significantly. Alcohol treatment is on the decline: down a solid 15% nationally. But at the same time, the need methamphetamine treatment rose by 53%. Cocaine treatment admissions dropped by 23%, but marijuana treatment admissions rose by 30%. The study also tracked regional trends, and in some cases a region showcased differing problems than the national average. The shifts in the types of drugs being used may give prevention organizations helpful insight into where there efforts can be most effectively targeted. But for therapists and counselors, the fact that overall substance abuse rates haven’t gone down sends a clear message: there are a lot of people out there that need help.

© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Gary


    January 4th, 2011 at 12:12 PM

    Not only are there a lot of people who need help but what these statistics also say is that the awareness model that we have followed in this decade has been ineffective and that there is need for a change in that area.

  • Martha


    January 5th, 2011 at 5:43 AM

    Do you think that it would help if more schools were to get involved and have drug counseling on hand? It would keep kids in a situation that is familiar and comfortable while providing help at the same time.

  • CleanLiving87


    January 5th, 2011 at 10:58 AM

    There are a number of therapies that can help get these statistics looking better. There are even ways of coping with your addictions without seeking a therapist. Although, seeking professional help may be the best way to handle an addiction, there are number of things that one can do.

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