Drug-free treatment

Drug-free treatment involves the application of psychosocial and educational techniques to achieve long-term abstinence from drugs.

Available data on drug-free treatment do not allow a quantitative comparison, partly because they come from both centres targeted exclusively at illegal drug users and those aimed at addiction treatment in general, i.e. treatment of alcoholism and other kinds of abuse, and partly because ‘treatment’ is not readily defined (e.g. as a minimum number of sessions) and cannot be measured in quantifiable units, such as registered prescriptions, as is the case with medically assisted treatment.

There is a trend towards a north–south divide in treatment provision, with treatment predominantly supplied through specialised services for illegal drug use in the southern part of Europe and through generic addiction services in the north (with the exception of Denmark). One explanation could be that northern countries (except Denmark) have a longer history of drug-free treatment of alcoholics than southern countries. Perhaps once illegal drug use began to develop, the already existing treatment facilities were adapted to deal with this particular group within the facilities. Conversely, the other countries did not have the same network of treatment facilities and additional specialised services were created for illegal drug users (Figure 40 OL).