The weekend of November 15-16, 2014, the U.S. Surgeon General was speaking at the American Public Health Association meeting in New Orleans. He had plenty to say about the use of drugs and excess use of alcohol.
He told his audience, “Without healthy people we are nothing. Without a healthy people, we have no future.” He also reminded the crowd that the World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
There are many paths to being healthy according to this definition. One of those paths is avoiding the use of drugs and the excessive use of alcohol. The Surgeon General agrees, as his strategy for achieving health includes this statement: “Preventing drug abuse and excessive alcohol use improves quality of life, academic performance, workplace productivity, and military preparedness.” Continue reading
Across the broad field of addiction recovery, there are many opinions about what addiction really is. Does it really make much difference which definition is correct? It does. Different forms of treatment are based on these differing concepts and definitions of addiction. If the underlying definition of addiction is erroneous, then the treatment based on that definition may miss the mark.
For a moment, let’s look at the disease concept of addiction. This concept assumes that it is a physical illness similar to diabetes or heart disease, the diseases most commonly used for comparison. So if addiction is defined as a disease, it would seem logical to treat that problem with medication. Therefore, there are rehab programs that use prescription drugs in the beginning, middle and end of the treatment program, and after the person leaves.
But there are millions of people around the world who are involved in Twelve Step meetings. When a person succeeds in recovering from addiction this way, it casts doubt upon a definition of addiction that includes the concept of disease as the Twelve Step process includes no provision for disease.
If addiction was truly a physical disease, perhaps genetically based, housed in the physical tissue of the brain, then medication might be a good solution, as it is with when bacteria invade a person’s lungs. If it is a disease, then there would be no “moral failing” involved in addiction. A person who wishes to recover can feel that there is no need to examine the harm he (or she) has done to himself or others. After all, it is just a disease that the individual himself is not responsible for, the same as if he comes down with a cold. Continue reading
When a family seeks a recovery program for a loved one, the variety of treatment programs they face will probably be baffling to them. Should they find a methadone program or one that provides buprenorphine? An in-patient program or out-patient? Group counseling or individual counseling? The first time a family wades into all these choices, it is normally quite confusing. Unless someone in the family has been through rehab or has worked in this field, the family may just choose the program that’s the most affordable or the easiest to get into right away.
It can happen that a person who really does want sobriety ends up in a program that differs philosophically from his own beliefs. He (or she) can have a hard time in this program. For example:
• Some people are not willing to admit that they will always be addicts or that they will always be powerless over their own addictions
• There are people who don’t want to receive more drugs as treatment for their past addictive behavior, such as methadone as a maintenance drug, Xanax (for anxiety), Lexapro or Prozac (for depression), acamprosate (for alcoholism)
• The use of hallucinogens to break a person’s addiction may not sit well with some people
• There are programs that use brutal boot-camp atmospheres to break a person’s spirit down so they become more “receptive” to treatment
• There are even programs that use electric shock to make the idea of drinking or using drugs repellant to the individual. Continue reading
There are all kinds of drug rehab programs in the world. Some have widespread popularity and others are isolated to just a few rehab centers. Like wilderness programs. You can find this type of rehab program with fair ease, but they are not widespread. Equine programs – ones that incorporate care and riding of horses – are a little more common. Some programs don’t focus on this modality of treatment but might include some involvement with horses. Continue reading
It’s certainly true that different people have different reactions to completing a drug rehab program and going back home sober. Some graduates want to focus on going back to work and taking better care of themselves and their families. This is, for nearly everyone, a dramatic improvement over the situation that existed while they were addicted.
Others want to be more active, to reach out to people who are struggling with drug or alcohol use and have not yet been helped. There are more than 20 million people who need drug or alcohol rehabilitation services in the United States at the moment. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, only about one person in ten gets the help they need.
Those other nine? Some look for rehab but the vast majority don’t even try. This is where those who have completed rehab and are now sober can help so much. First, they completely understand the phenomenon of addiction because they have been through it themselves. Second, they probably have a very good idea what the addicted person is feeling and thinking and why he may not be seeking rehabilitation. This empathy between the person who is now addicted and the person who has recovered from addiction can provide the means to start turning that addict’s life around. Continue reading
There’s so many ways to help people overcome problems with alcohol or drugs. Perhaps the most important right now are drug prevention and education for youth and drug rehabilitation. These are, as you may know, the services that Narconon centers around the world offer. But there are additional changes that need to occur if we are, as a culture, to overcome the losses being incurred by abuse of and addiction to substances like alcohol, heroin and pills.
Just to comment on these losses for a moment, the primary among these is the terrible loss of life. Around the world, more than two million lives are lost due to alcohol consumption, according to the World Health Organization. And more than two hundred thousand lives are lost each year to drug abuse. These lives are lost both due to direct overdoses and indirect causes such as illnesses like pneumonia, cancer or liver failure that result from drug or alcohol use. Continue reading
A group of U.S. Senators have been in the news recently in connection with a new bill which is aimed at opening doors to treatment for more Americans suffering from drug addiction. Specifically, the bill is intended to address what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has described as America’s “deadly epidemic of prescription painkiller abuse.” Around 17,000 people in the United States now die every year from overdosing on painkillers such as hydrocodone (Vicodin) and oxycodone (OxyContin), and nearly 500,000 people are being admitted to emergency rooms for complications involving these drugs. The bill is intended to strike a blow against this looming public health threat by expanding the access to treatment for addiction to opioid painkillers, in light of the fact that less than half of those who need treatment are currently getting it. In 2012, around 2.5 million people in the U.S. abused or were addicted to opioid medications, and fewer than 1 million received treatment. Senators Markey, Feinstein, Rockefeller, Brown and Hirono introduced the Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment Act in the second session of the current meeting of Congress, using the acronym “TREAT Act.” Continue reading
Until Betty Ford went public with her addictions and her recovery, no one knew much or talked much about addiction treatment. A drunk might go to the hospital to “dry out” – in other words, get off alcohol. But that left the cravings and desire to be drunk untouched. About the only method a person had for getting off heroin was a “cold turkey” withdrawal, a very grim process.
But then Betty Ford established her center and celebrities began to arrive for treatment. This took the idea of addiction recovery into the mainstream.
But by the time the Betty Ford Center was being covered in the media, the Narconon program had been saving lives for 16 years. In the earliest days, a big white house in Los Angeles was the site for recovery, and then there began to be centers in Italy, Russia, Sweden, even South Africa.
The word “rehabilitation” means to return something or someone to a former state. Drug rehabilitation should be returning a person to the way they were before they used drugs, to the furthest extent possible. Therefore, there should be ways for the addicted person to recover their own self-respect, to find relief from guilt and trauma and to know how to make drug-free decisions, even when there are challenges in the environment. When a person dried out or went cold turkey, there was no rehabilitation. They only got sober. They were left with their full measures of guilt. If there were some situations that would “drive them to drink,” they did not have new skills to deal with these situations. Continue reading
Choosing a drug rehab program for yourself or for a loved one can be an excruciating decision. Upon this decision may rest the success or failure of the attempt to get clean and sober, and it’s not a decision that you can really afford to get wrong. After all, it often happens that a person who goes through rehab unsuccessfully will at that point give up all hope of getting sober, and will often spend the rest of what remains of his or her life as an addict. Furthermore, there is the fact that the costs of rehab can be considerable, and most families can’t afford to keep spending money on different programs while looking for the right one. Continue reading
There have been some individuals who have successfully resolved their problems with substance abuse by participating in traditional twelve-step programs or by receiving medications to help them withdraw from drugs. However, other individuals can feel that true sobriety means an absence of all drug use, including illicit, recreational and medical drugs. For this and other reasons, holistic drug treatment has become more popular, and is actually believed by many medical doctors to be a very successful way to resolve drug addiction. Continue reading