Models of addiction and types of interventions: An integrative look

Roland Simon, Robert West


Simon, R., & West, R. (2015). Models of addiction and types of interventions: An integrative look. The International Journal Of Alcohol And Drug Research, 4(1), 13-20. doi:

Background: Use of psychoactive substances and problem gambling create serious harm to individuals who engage in these practices and to society as a whole (World Health Organization, 2002). The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) regularly monitors drug-related problems and interventions, as well as the efficiency of interventions. The scope and methodology of monitoring, however, depends on the conceptualization of “addiction.”

Methods: The relevant literature was screened for models and theories relating to “addiction,” resulting in a systematic overview of the concepts and related approaches (EMCDDA, 2013). Using this as a background, different approaches for interventions and their theoretical bases are discussed.

Results: Models of addiction follow two approaches. Most of these focus on the individual addict, involving constructs such as emotions, drive states, habits, choice, and goal-oriented processes, or else taking a more integrative or change-oriented view. Others are population-based models, including social network, economic, communication, and organizational system models.

While substance- and non-substance-related addictions differ in a number of respects, they share key elements: a repeated powerful motivation to engage in a particular behavior, acquired through enacting the behavior, despite the experience or risk of significant harm. Nine different types of intervention to combat addiction found in the literature involve attempts to change one or more of three factors that interact to underpin behavior: capability, opportunity, and motivation (the “COM-B” model). The models of addiction reviewed may serve as a basis for such interventions.


addiction; model; intervention; treatment

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