HomeAddictionAbuseSAMHSA Releases New Guide for the Treatment of Stimulant Use Disorders

SAMHSA Releases New Guide for the Treatment of Stimulant Use Disorders

Written By: Harris House

Category: Abuse, Abuse, Blog

Cocaine in a small packet.

Cocaine is one of several stimulants that are growing in use in the US.

Knowledge about substance use disorder and its treatments is always advancing. Choosing a rehabilitation program that adheres to the latest and most effective treatment practices can lead to improved outcomes for people struggling with addiction and the people who love them. As part of its Evidence-Based Resource Guide Series, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recently released its 2020 guide, Treatment of Stimulant Disorders.

Here’s a closer look at stimulant use disorders, the most current evidence-based practices for their treatment, and why finding a treatment program that deploys these practices is essential to supporting recovery. 

About Stimulant Use Disorder

Stimulant use disorders include a range of problems associated with the use of stimulants, including cocaine, methamphetamine, and other amphetamines. Stimulant use disorder can be diagnosed when at least two of the following occur within a year:

  • Taking more stimulants than intended
  • Failure to cut down/control stimulant use, despite wanting to do so
  • Spending excessive time involved in activities involving stimulant use
  • Urges and cravings for stimulants
  • Failure to meet personal and professional obligations
  • Continued stimulant use despite problems resulting from it
  • Giving up/reducing important activities due to stimulant use
  • Using stimulants in dangerous situations
  • Continued stimulant use despite awareness that it’s causing or worsening problems
  • Increased tolerance to stimulants
  • Withdrawal symptoms when not taking stimulants

While opioids may claim the majority of media attention, stimulant misuse is also a grave concern. In fact, in 2018, the amount of cocaine and methamphetamines seized exceed that of opioids in certain areas of the country. Furthermore, not only is the number of people using stimulants is significantly increasing, but so are overdose deaths associated with this usage. In 2018, there were more than 27,300 stimulant overdose deaths accounting for 40 percent of all overdose deaths in the US. Stimulant-related offenses also comprise more than 75 percent of all federal drug charges.

Evidence-Based Treatments

Accepting that a problem exists is an early step in recovery — often because it leads to a much bigger step: seeking help in the form of a substance abuse treatment program.

The most successful substance abuse treatment programs utilize a complex and multi-pronged approach. SAMHSA evaluated four treatment practices for stimulant use disorder, each of which received a “Strong Evidence” rating on SAMHSA’s Casual Evidence Level scale. This means that causal impact was “demonstrated by at least two randomized controlled trials, quasi-experimental designs, or epidemiological studies with a high or moderate rating.”

In talking through their feelings, addicts can gain the perspectives needed to resolve them and move forward.  

Group of people meeting in a circle.These included the following:

  • Motivational Interviewing (MI), described as “a treatment approach that helps individuals overcome ambivalent feelings and insecurities.” Available in a wide range of healthcare settings, MI supports behavior change by helping clients explore and resolve conflicting feelings.
  • Contingency Management (CM), described as “a type of behavioral therapy grounded in the principles of operant conditioning.”  This learning method reinforces desired behaviors through the exchange of rewards, such as prizes, privileges, and cash.
  • Community Reinforcement Approach (CRA), described as incorporating “multiple elements such as analyzing clients’ substance use, relationship counseling, vocational guidance, and job skills training.” It also helps build social and drug refusal skills. Ultimately, CRA encourages people to engage in healthier recreational activities, develop new social networks, and make other significant behavioral changes.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), described as “a short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that enables individuals to understand their current problems, challenges, and experiences in order to change their behaviors and patterns of thinking.” CBT helps people learn to assess their own circumstances and feelings in order to develop management strategies. While this may not change their circumstances, it can change the perspectives of those circumstances.

While all of these treatments were deemed to be very effective, some were more effective with certain populations than with others. For example, CRA has been successfully implemented with adolescents. The takeaway? In addition to varying the intensity and duration of these treatments, their implementation may vary from patient to patient depending on the specifics of the situation.

“Stimulant use is rising and becoming a public health crisis similar to the opioid epidemic,” declares SAMHSA.

If you or someone you love is struggling with stimulant use disorder or another substance use disorder, finding an addiction treatment program that not only utilizes these strategies but targets them to a person’s individual circumstances and needs can best facilitate healing and recovery. Leading St. Louis area rehab Harris House has been providing customized drug rehabilitation programming for more than 50 years. Contact us today to learn about admissions.

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