Why do people use substances? In order to control their consciousness. Some of them run into trouble as a result of this attempted control; in other words, they become addicted. However, our daily lives are a complex web of causes and effects, which is why the majority of problem users have success in getting rid of their addiction without professional help. Professional treatment is thus a small factor in the overall process of recovery, although we like to stress its importance and great expectations are placed on it. Internalised action follows a relentless law of continuity: the more serious the addiction is, the more work is needed to recover from it, regardless of whether the process is supported by professional treatment or not. Professional treatment frequently over-emphasises the significance of treatment methods and plays down the importance of the actions of the therapist and the working alliance. Everyday thinking concerning substances is a promised land of unquestioning assumptions, although dogmatic thinking can also be found in professional activity.
The volume of research into the treatment of and recovery from substance abuse in Finland remains low. In fact, it is surprisingly low, given the social significance of the topic. Another aspect which could be improved is the practical application of research outcomes. However, science cannot solve substance abuse; its primary function is to open new perspectives.
Research into substance abuse has been carried on here since the early 1990s, both by staff and postgraduate students, not forgetting master's theses. The themes have varied, although almost without exception they have all been very concretely intertwined with the treatment of and recovery from substance abuse. Examples worth mentioning here include the impact of cognitive impairment on the internalising of treatment contents, the clients' coping after treatment, various routes of recovery from alcohol problems and the effect of clients' readiness to change for the continuity of treatment. Other topics studied include the actions of therapists and working alliance, as well as cannabis users and their sub-culture.