, Volume 8, Issue 5, pp 355-362

Continuing care in the treatment of addictive disorders

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Abstract

Newer models of continuing care in the addictions are designed to improve the long-term management of substance use disorders by engaging patients into flexible, or “adaptive,” treatment algorithms that change in focus and intensity as symptoms wax and wane over time. This article describes some of these newer approaches to the management of substance use disorders and presents recent research on their effectiveness. Findings suggest the following: 1) Continuing care interventions of a year or longer are more likely to show significant positive effects; 2) Continuing care treatments that are less burdensome to patients appear to promote higher rates of sustained engagement; 3) More structured and intensive continuing care may be more effective for patients with severe substance dependence and associated problems and for those who fail to achieve reasonable progress while in the initial phase of treatment; and 4) Use of medications as part of continuing care is increasing.