New Challenges for Social Intervention in a Changing World

The workshop goal was to review the theoretical models and therapeutic approaches best supported by scientific evidence from studies of addiction intervention. That review showed participants how to handle the challenges of emerging profiles with specific problems. The workshop ended by emphasizing evaluation of our programs as a way to improve them, and to demonstrate their benefits.

Dianova meetings - social intervention workshop By Esther Martos – The 2017 annual Dianova meetings gathered 60 Dianova Network representatives from 14 countries to participate in three training and exchange workshops.

One of the three workshops was titled: “New Challenges for Social Intervention in a Changing World”. The event lasted a full day and was attended by nine representatives of the Dianova Network in Canada, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Slovenia and Uruguay who work in management and addiction intervention. The workshop was conducted in Spanish, with one participant interpreting into English.

Participants reviewed the various addiction intervention models that years of research have shown are most effective. The group proceeded to identify the most common interventions implemented by the Dianova Network’s various facilities, and participants noted that cognitive behavioural therapy is one of the most common strategies, though family-centred therapy now plays a greater role in addiction intervention. The latter strategy is mostly destined to children and adolescents with problematic drug use and behavioural problems. Participants agreed that the comprehensive bio-psycho-social and educational model is an appropriate and effective approach. They added that all Dianova treatment centres use this approach.

Dianova meetings, plenary session

The group’s consensus fractured when the discussion turned to opiate substitution treatment. The group noted the differences in approaches depending on member organizations: treatment in some centres focuses on reduction and detoxification of agonists; in others, treatment options may include the possibility of long-term opioid agonist maintenance.

Participants also discussed how treatment in different centres addresses the growing problem of patients with dual disorders, i.e. substance abuse and psychiatric disorders. The group reviewed specific, specialized resources for addicts with these profiles. Another option the group considered was having such dual disorders profiles integrated within a standard addiction treatment facility, both approaches implying specialized teams and dedicated treatment areas.


Esther Martos (center) The group also discussed a new challenge: the growing pervasiveness of new information and communication technologies (ICT) that is challenging societies. Participants addressed the concept, diagnosis and treatment of choice for ICT abuse, focusing on the most common forms, mobile phone and Internet addiction. Participants were uncertain how to address ICT abuse, and considered two approaches: restriction and education. The former limits access to technology, restricting people who abuse it; the latter aims to educate or re-educate, changing the relational behaviour that leads to abuse. Our programs require creating spaces to educate and treat people’s relationship with ICT, as technologies often become related or co-morbid elements of drug addiction.

The workshop concluded by highlighting the importance of program evaluation as the best way to steadily improve our interventions. Another key point was identifying and formulating quantitative indicators, while qualitatively measuring our effectiveness in treating addiction was considered even more critical. We need to try and understand people and their problems, making our programs systematic, agreeing on and evaluating our treatments. Only then can we achieve ideal results and ensure that our therapeutic rest on a justifiable basis.

I would like to thank everyone for their dynamism and participation in the workshop. The day was intense and pleasant, and it gave us the opportunity for us to share best practices.

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