Addiction treatment is the process whereby the experience, knowledge, compassion, wisdom and training of a counsellor comes into direct contact with an individual who needs help with their addiction or dependence to alcohol or other drugs.
The therapeutic programme or the “programme” is the process whereby the best of this contact can be externalised, replicated, delivered, monitored and of course adapted in response to feedback and research.
The aim of the programme is to integrate the best evidence-based programmes available today with the decades of experience of a dedicated and motivated team. To accomplish this, we have researched, in depth, addiction treatment interventions from the UK, USA, Ireland and Australia and have developed a comprehensive and intensive programme of treatment from this research.
In order to maximise this process, the programme component of treatment consists mainly of evidence-based interventions. All the interventions we use are manualised and are the product of exhaustive research by leaders in the addictions field. All of the addiction components are on the National Registry of Evidence-based Programmes and Practices (NREPP)4 For more information on this, please see the Building Blocks section below. The result of such attention to every detail of the programme that the delivery is the same, whoever the therapist is. This provides a consistent treatment experience for clients.
What differentiates Next Step Therapy from most other treatment providers is our experience in community mental health. All our partners are practicing psychological therapists. We have many CBT and other programmes to offer to clients who present with comorbid mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, anger or aggression, low self-esteem etc. These are integrated into the IATP. Our community mental service can treat comorbid mental health problems which are primary. When the caseness of these problems fall below a recognised threshold the client can join our IATP. Caseness thresholds are determined my NICE/IAPT monitoring.
‘Addiction is a chronic relapsing condition’ Most professionals who work in the drug and alcohol field have heard clients say, many times, that “it’s relatively easy to stop using alcohol and other drugs but much harder to stay stopped”
We view Relapse Prevention as the mainstay of our programme and not just one component. Indeed, it could be stated that the whole of the programme is about preventing relapse, either to substance of choice or to secondary mood altering substance use. We view relapse as a process and not a single event. It starts with a trigger event which leads to a series of increasingly risky cognitive, affective and behavioural processes leading to an increase craving which eventually culminates in substance use. This is called a lapse. When the addictions returns to where it was at the point of assessment it becomes a relapse. This process is called the relapse dynamic.
The essence of our IATP is to provide the client with tools to recognise when they are on a relapse dynamic, identify and name the particular cognitive, affective or behavioural processes and have a range of remedies to apply before they are overwhelmed by the craving process.
Outcome figures from throughout the world demonstrate that this process is not easy nor clear. Partners, family members, friends and colleagues are frequently baffled when an addict returns to active alcohol and other drug use despite overpowering evidence that it is harmful or even life threatening. Often, the addict him or herself is the most baffled and distressed of all.