Reports of the benefits of drug use from individuals with substance use disorders
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Background: The perceived benefits of drug use are not currently integrated into the treatment of substance use disorder. This omission appears paradoxical and is unsubstantiated by empirical research. As the perceived benefits of drug use are catalysts for drug initiation, relapse and continuous use, increased knowledge about these benefits seems crucial to efficacious treatment. Aims: To investigate the perceived benefits of drug use in substance use disorder. Method: The study is a phenomenological-hermeneutical investigation using thematic analysis of interviews with 30 long-term recovered adult service users. Results: Our thematic analysis resulted in three themes and several sub-themes: (1) Benefits of drug use; (2) Necessity of intense experiences; and (3) Importance of being unconventional. Conclusions: Findings indicate that the benefits of non-problematic and problematic drug use are motivated by similar individual and social needs. An absolute distinction between problematic and non-problematic drug use thus seems arbitrary and potentially counterproductive for clinical practice. The benefits of drug use should be researched as a possible add-on treatment module, as this knowledge may be of significant clinical value in treatment frameworks.