Theory-based active ingredients of effective treatments for substance use disorders.
This paper describes four related theories that specify common social processes that protect individuals from developing substance use disorders and may underlie effective psychosocial treatments for these disorders: social control theory, behavioral economics and behavioral choice theory, social learning theory, and stress and coping theory. It then provides an overview of the rationale and evidence for four effective psychosocial treatments for substance use disorders: motivational interviewing and motivational enhancement therapy, 12-step facilitation treatment, cognitive-behavioral treatment and behavioral family counseling, and contingency management and community reinforcement approaches. The presumed active ingredients of these treatments are described in terms of how they exemplify the social processes highlighted by the four theories. The identified common components of effective treatment include support, goal direction, and structure; an emphasis on rewards that compete with substance use, a focus on abstinence-oriented norms and models, and attempts to develop self-efficacy and coping skills. Several issues that need to be addressed to enhance our understanding of the active ingredients involved in effective treatment are discussed, including how to develop measures of these ingredients, how well the ingredients predict outcomes and influence conceptually comparable aspects of clients' life contexts, and how much their influence varies depending upon clients' demographic and personal characteristics.