Home > Treatment of stimulant use disorders: current practices and promising perspectives.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. (2019) Treatment of stimulant use disorders: current practices and promising perspectives. Vienna: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

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There is a growing concern in many parts of the world for the large-scale use of psychostimulants for non-medical purposes and high incidence of psychostimulant use disorders (PSUD), also known as stimulant abuse, dependence or addiction. The number of individuals that regularly use psychoactive substances such as cocaine, amphetamines, methamphetamines and other psychostimulants is greater than the number of individuals using opioids and opiates. In spite of this high prevalence, individuals with psychostimulant use disorders around the world are provided minimal or non-existent contact with health and social institutions and very poor treatment programs. In many countries, treatment services for substance use disorders have been designed for treatment of opioid and alcohol dependence and are not tailored for stimulants dependence. In particular, the model including medical interventions and social protection has seldom been applied for these individuals, making the services not appealing and attractive for the clients.

In response to requests from Member States, a group of experts from 25 countries and UNODC staff met to share their views and develop this discussion paper on the treatment of PSUD that outlines the existent comprehensive interventions, including the use of promising medications. The group collected existing scientific evidence and practitioners’ opinions formulating preliminary suggestions for integrating psychosocial and pharmacological therapy. The group of experts suggested to accompany the integrated treatment programs with comprehensive social services (social protection, housing, food, incentives etc.), together with a broad range of strategies aimed at reducing the negative health and social consequences of stimulants use.

In addition, the group indicated the importance to involve individuals who are affected by PSUD in designing and planning the most acceptable and appealing treatment interventions. The discussion paper aims at raising awareness about the latest scientific evidence concerning the treatment of this large and vulnerable population and makes a call for action to Member States to consider expanding specific treatment options and medical interventions. Finally, the experts suggested the establishment of an international network of treatment sites to conduct implementation research on the proposed medical model of treatment across developed and developing countries. 

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