When does a person need drug abuse treatment? When things are getting out of control in their life, that is a good time to seek help and many people will do exactly that, but only after a certain amount of pain and misery.
Most people will not seek help for drug abuse. More often it will have to morph into full blown drug addiction before a person will reach a point where they are willing to seek real help for their problem. Drug abuse implies that they are merely abusing the drugs and are not truly addicted to them. Of course an addict can and does abuse drugs as well. But the point here is that not every person who abuses drugs is a full blown drug addict. Part of the treatment process should be to intervene early enough to stop drug abusers from becoming drug addicts.
Obviously such a goal needs to focus on youth. Such prevention efforts have never proved to be very effective though. Kids and teens are going to experiment with drugs, and the common scare tactics that are used do not seem to have much effect on this. Reducing drug abuse from this perspective is really difficult.
Once it is determined that someone is truly addicted to drugs, the recommended course becomes a bit more clear. Abstinence is the goal and recovery is the means to achieve that goal. There are various programs out there, such as the 12 step program, that can be used in order to achieve recovery and teach people a new way to live. Most treatment focuses on these goals and attempts to introduce the addict to the 12 step program. In some cases a different program and methodology is used, but the ideas and concepts are usually similar. Abstinence is almost always the baseline instead of moderation. Teaching addicts to moderate has never been as successful as teaching them full abstinence.
Long term success in recovery is best achieved when a person is creating and building a new life for themselves. Most recovery programs fall short of a total holistic approach to personal growth and development. Yet if you examine the winners in recovery, you will see that they are typically on this path of holistic growth. Thus we need to incorporate this idea into our model of recovery if we are going to see more long term success. Holistic growth is powerful because it allows for so much more flexible growth and progress in recovery, whereas a program that is limited to spiritual concepts is rather limiting.