Reduction of harmful consumption versus total abstinence in addiction treatment

Author(s): Michael Musalek

Drug consumption-oriented treatment goals, and, in particular, abstinence-oriented treatment goals, remain the treatment of choice in the field of addiction treatment research. Treatment programs that focus only on reducing intake to a moderate level of consumption are not effective for alcoholics with a severe physical dependency. In the early stages of an addiction, however, when the first signs of addiction are present but there are no indications of severe physical or psychological dependency, minimizing the consumption of alcohol to a moderate level can be a possible alternative to total abstinence for many patients. Addictions are chronic, highly complex disorders with a multifactoral genesis. No addiction treatment that focuses exclusively on the pattern of consumption and pays less heed to or even ignores the pathogenic importance of the ‘comorbidities’ can be effective in the long term. The attractiveness of a treatment goal or a therapeutic action is the chief motivator for long-term treatment.


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