HSM 210 Discussion Addicts

One of the most important programs that Maryland has developed in the war on addiction is the Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR). This program is state funded and is located at the University of Maryland at College Park.  CESAR informs politicians, policy makers, and the general public about drug influence, affect on other problems and prevention and treatment. (CESAR, 2009)

CESAR was created in 1989 in response to a lack of understanding and information with regard to addiction issues.  Substance abuse treatment lends itself to cognitive behavioral therapy.  The underlying belief is that there is an irrational process of thinking taking place causing the substance abuse behavior. (Burger, 2008)  CESAR was created to discover these abnormalities and apprise officials and the public of its findings.

However, there is a conflict of theories in regard to addiction.  There are clinicians and therapists who prescribe to the disease or medical model and there are clinicians and therapists who believe that substance abuse requires a strictly human services and psychological treatment.  For this reason CESAR is of vital importance to substance abuse treatment.  Through the information provided by CESAR professionals can begin to understand which treatment methods are working.

Although the human services model and the medical model are currently at odds with one another, the human services approach has had the greatest positive impact on the implementation of CESAR.  CESAR is dependent upon free access and academic research. Community studies and treatment research are needed to examine the substance abuse problem because there are so many varying social factors that affect addiction.  For instance, substance abuse is far more prevalent in poverty stricken areas than in affluent communities.  As well, there are differences that include racial, ethnic, gender and even educational levels.

The medical model is not without merit in the treatment of substance abuse.  The use of psychotropic medications for withdraw have proven to be extremely useful.  But strictly employing the use of the medical model and pharmacology has historically proven to be a failure.  In the early days of substance abuse treatment addicts were confined to asylums and underwent treatments ranging from cold baths, sedatives and hallucinogens.  (Vaillant, 1995)

Today, the medical model follows the use of human services methods.  The incorporation of medical diagnostics and pharmacological treatments is used in conjunction with behavioral therapy and self help groups.  Programs like CESAR provide the statistical support for continued human service intervention in substance abuse.


Vaillant, G.E. (1995). The natural history of alcoholism revisited. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

(2009). Center for substance abuse research. Retrieved June 14, 2009, from CESAR 

Burger, William (2008). Human services in contemporary america. New York, NY: Cengage.