In managing or preventing substance use disorders, nothing should occur in isolation. People and systems of care are complex. They require frequent observation, assessment and understanding. To this end, systems focused on medical models, statistics and abstract ideas do not take fully into account the reality of a patient’s situation and place too great an emphasis on the individual as being the source of their own suffering. Such paradigms, while accepting that individuals must make their own health decisions, perhaps negate the influence of social systems and existing policy on health outcomes. In working towards the prevention of substance use disorders, it is important to appreciate those social determinants of health, policies and actions that precipitate adverse outcomes. Furthermore, empowering stakeholders to engage with clinicians and policy makers on issues related to treatment and prevention, is an essential step in understanding what is needed, and how best practices might be implemented.
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