Of all the vice problems confronting South Africa and many other countries, the
heroin dependence syndrome and its consequences pose some of the most serious
challenges. While the treatment and management of heroin use disorders
continues to be characterized by new developments, altering perspectives, and
by controversies of one kind or another, the literature findings suggest that
different treatment settings may be appropriate for different heroin users.
People who are treated for heroin use disorders achieve a continuum of outcomes
with respect to their heroin-taking behaviour and their heroin-related
problems. Treatment response is thus not a simple matter of success or failure.
As with many treatments, the assessment of outcome involves degrees of improvement,
and these may have different meanings for different individual cases. Although
there is a general acceptance of such goals as improved health, or reduction or
elimination of heroin consumption, it is also necessary to be aware of the need
for flexible goals that can be adapted to individual circumstances.
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