Addiction Models & Programs


Disease: as a disease, it has a physical basis and the cure can only be found through physical means. While this has helped advance the understanding of the physical consequences of addiction, it is by no means the be all and end all of understanding addiction.

Moral: generally viewed in relation to religious value systems as there being something morally wrong with the person, or that ‘God’ has cursed the person for past ills.  Unfortunately, this does not take into account karmic aspects of a person’s soul growth, i.e. their journey of addiction just might be what ‘the doctor’ ordered to learn invaluable lessons of spirit.  Or it might simply be bad luck.

Social: basically, addiction is a social issue that can only be solved through social means.  It is through our social misunderstandings such as the breakdown of the family, traditional or otherwise, that we become disconnected from one another and addiction set in to compensate.  It is everyone’s problem, so everyone should help out accordingly.

BioPsychoSocialSpiritual (BPSS): the inclusion of spirituality in a model of prevention helps a person come to terms with personal experiences that might otherwise be labeled as symptomatic drug-induced mental illness. As physical/emotional/mental experiences are conditioned to a great extent by our spiritual makeup, the BPSS provides a contextual basis for understanding the complex biological, psychological, social and culturally diverse perspectives of substance misuse.

Spirituality often portrays life as an experiential journey to personal transformation.  Thus, substance misuse can affect not only individuals, but social and even global transformations as well. Spiritual knowledge can be translated and applied to the creation, maintenance and improved efficiency of addictions services and health care systems that reach individuals directly.


Needle Exchange Program (NEP): available through clinics and organizations like Three Bridges, DEYAS and SYS with the aim of improving health and social service needs to IDU’s. Making clean needles and associated paraphernalia available helps de-stigmatize its rebellious attraction and reduce the rates of sharing needles and potential HIV/HCV infections.

Methadone Maintenance Treatment (MMT): a regulated substitution drug (methadone for heroin) is dispensed free of charge from participating pharmacies or clinics. For example, some participants report more stable lives from not having to resort to crime to feed their drug habits.  This keeps them out of jail and less of a drain on social resources.

Supervised Injection Sites (SIS): while controversial, they have had some success in reducing harms to HIV infected IDU’s by keeping drug use off the streets and out of the alleys, supplying clean needles and associated paraphernalia, providing a safe space and supervised medical attention.

Diversion Programs: users are diverted from high risk and potentially harmful situations to educational and rehabilitational ones.  In the crystal meth community the rehabilitation of dealers via Drug Court Diversion Programs has helped other users see other options do exist.

Peer/Recruitment Outreach: the aim is to provide any number of services to peer populations. For example, in 2006 the GaMMa Project offered a community-based program of outreach to shed light on gay men and crystal meth. During six months of outreach over 10,000 resource cards, safe sex/harm reduction kits and referrals for community supports or treatment were distributed to bars, clubs, bathhouses, sex trade workers, online and at gay-specific special events.  Also, initiatives such as the Homeless Outreach Project (VCH) provide recruitment style outreach to the homeless by helping participants address and overcome barriers to accessing social services and housing.

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