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J Psychoactive Drugs. 1994 Jan-Mar;26(1):1-11.

Drug treatment on demand--not.

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Institute for Scientific Analysis, San Francisco, California 94110.


Drug treatment on demand, appropriate and affordable drug treatment for injection drug users who are "ready" to enter a program, is a humane approach to drug treatment services and an important mechanism to halt the spread of HIV. However, drug treatment on demand is not a reality in the United States. In fact, due to funding cuts at federal, state, and local levels, entry into drug treatment programs has become increasingly more difficult over the past decade. In a NIDA-funded ethnographic study of methadone maintenance, i.v. drug use and AIDS, 70 heroin addicts who were out of treatment and actively seeking methadone maintenance were interviewed. In life-history interviews, the drug users described barriers to treatment, waiting-list experiences, and the impact of these experiences on their drug use, drug-using behavior, and emotional well-being. Respondents used many mechanisms to cope with the lack of availability of drug treatment slots, some of which have increased their risk of exposure to and spread of HIV. These findings indicate the need for an increase in the availability of subsidized methadone maintenance treatment slots "on demand" if individuals are to decrease their drug use and their high-risk behaviors. Drug treatment on demand is more than politically correct rhetoric. It is a necessary ingredient in reducing the harm caused by the use of illegal drugs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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