What it means to reach the bottom
The pull of an addiction may be so strong that efforts to convince him or her of the need for recovery will be very difficult. Ultimately, the decision to pursue recovery must come from the individual alone, and they must decide when they are ready. In order to become ready, it is often necessary to “hit bottom,” or be in a situation of pain that jolts the addicted person out of a sense of compliancy.
Heavy users will invariably reach a point when life feels dangerous, out of control, or fundamentally unsatisfying. It is at this point that the myth that your addiction is not a big deal or under control comes crashing down, and you feel forced to admit a need for help. The phrase “hitting rock bottom” may bring up dramatic images of homelessness, prison, or a near-death situation, but the truth is many people’s bottoms may be less dramatic, internal pain that simply creates a moment where you “wake up” and realize that you don’t want to continue living this way.
Each person struggling with substance abuse is going to have different experiences, and different things to get them to the point of “waking up.” Here are a few of the factors that can affect what someone’s bottom will look like.
1) Supportive relationships with others
One factor that can make a huge difference in what a bottom looks like is whether or not an addict is surrounded by support from friends and family. People struggling with addiction may behave in hurtful ways to the people around them, as the craving or effects of a substance takes over.
Enabling an addict, or reducing the consequences of their behavior can reinforce behaviors of denial, but abandoning someone to their addiction can also further reinforce feelings of hopelessness. Instead, friends and family can lovingly confront addictive behavior, brining them to a point of realizing the dangers of their behavior.
2) Socio-economic factors and structuralized racism
Addiction affects people from every walk of life and ethnicity, but social context can affect the perceived consequences or outside pressures to achieve sobriety. Police activity against illegal drug use is highly concentered in lower-income urban areas, leading to huge disparities in the enforcement of drug laws.
Poorer people of color are more likely to get “caught” and face jail time for their drug use then wealthy white users, and users with disposable income may be less aware of how much their addiction is costing. This made lead to more denial and a false sense of security among wealthier and privileged users, thinking their addiction is less of a problem since they face fewer social consequences.
3) Personal awareness of behavior, and self-honesty
“Hitting the bottom” works as a motivation to seeking recovery because it helps the person struggling with addiction to see reality. Two false ways of seeing reality that create a barrier to seeking recovery are hopelessness and denial. Hopelessness, or exaggerating the badness of a situation and failing to see how theirs a way out, makes recovery seem impossible.
Denial, failing to see the negative consequences at all, makes recovery seem unnecessary. Practices of careful self-examination will reveal two truths – that you need recovery in order to live a fulfilled life, and that it is possible to work through and obtain. Both of these truths need to be grasped in order to escape from your rock bottom.
4) Honest look at the future
The ability to look into the future and see how small issues could become bigger if untreated is one of the primary things that can help stop after a “high bottom” (in which a realization of the need for recovery is reached without serious loss), rather then a low bottom.
Denial can get caught up in “yets,” making you believe that your addiction isn’t a problem “yet,” causing you to postpone treatment. Missing one day of work because of an addiction may not seem like a big deal, but it can be a warning sign that going further down that path could lead to loosing your job.
5) Honoring self-dialogue
Denial can silence the thoughts you have of yourself. Very light consequences of substance abuse, such as feeling sick during withdraw, may cause small thoughts of changing behavior to creep up.
On the other hand, in the throws of addiction, multiple arrests, loss of jobs or relationships, or threats of death may not be enough of a “bottom” to make you want to seek treatment. Self-awareness can be a very important tool in helping you avoid getting at the lowest bottom possible.
Alcoholics have a tendency to suffer from a deficiency in thiamine or vitamin B1 which helps brain cells produce energy from sugar. The lack of this important nutrient can lead to serious health problems and if levels fall too low it can cause a condition known as Wernick-Korsakoff syndrome or more commonly, wet brain. Korsakoff syndrome is a problem that is most often caused by alcohol abuse but there are cases where other conditions lead to the disorder such as AIDS, chronic infections or poor nutrition.
Alcohol addiction negatively affects the brain and can lead to cognitive decline in a number of ways but wet brain is one of the most severe neurological disorders associated with alcoholism. People diagnosed with wet brain will struggle to function normally and exhibit a number of different physiological problems that can interfere with their daily life.
Alcoholism and Early Stages of Wet Brain
People who drink alcohol excessively on a regular basis often lack adequate levels of thiamine for a number of different reasons. Alcoholics tend to have poor eating habits and often vomit when binge drinking. They can also have trouble absorbing vitamins from food because alcohol damages the lining of the stomach and the liver which processes thiamine. Without enough thiamine brain cells cannot generate energy to function properly and a severe lack of thiamine can cause an acute brain reaction leading to Wernicke’s encephalopathy, an early stage of wet brain.
Wernicke’s encephalopathy can develop suddenly and cause a medical emergency with symptoms such as life-threatening brain disruption, confusion, staggering and stumbling, lack of coordination and abnormal involuntary eye movements. A person developing this problem will also exhibit signs of malnutrition and mild memory loss and if they are not treated soon enough then they can start to develop Korsakoff syndrome.
The Onset of Korsakoff Syndrome
After experiencing Wernicke’s encephalopathy, an individual will gradually develop some of the symptoms of Korsakoff syndrome. Damage will occur in small areas within the brain resulting in short term memory loss. As the symptoms of wet brain continue to develop they will show problems with learning new information and struggle to remember recent events while also experiencing some long-term memory gaps as well.
They may still have the same ability to use other types of thinking and social skills but have severe memory problems. Patients with this syndrome may be fully capable of having a coherent conversation but be unable remember having the conversation minutes later. Some people with this disorder may have trouble learning new skills because they cannot acquire any new information and recall what they have been taught. This condition can also cause changes in personality such as a patient becoming suddenly apathetic and unemotional or extremely talkative with repetitive behavior. People with Korsakoff syndrome may have little insight into their condition and believe their memory is functioning normally while even inventing memories of events that never happened.
Treating Wet Brain Symptoms
When a person with an alcohol problem is diagnosed with Korsakoff syndrome, the first step to start seeing improvements in their memory is to abstain from alcohol and go into recovery. Continuing to abuse alcohol will only worsen the condition and can put them in more danger. In addition to sobriety, a patient with wet brain will need to be given high doses of thiamine and must adopt a healthier diet with nutrient-rich foods.
People with Korsakoff syndrome can begin to see improvement if they make these changes within two years of treatment. Some patients can make a very good recovery while others may show little progress and need long-term residential care.
Benzodiazepines are a type of tranquilizing medication often prescribed for pain or anxiety such as Valium or Xanax. Benzos, as they are commonly called, have great potential for abuse and addiction as recreational drug users seek them out for their sedating effects. While benzos can be prescribed for legitimate medical reasons such as insomnia, seizure control, alcohol withdrawal, muscle relaxation or anxiety they are frequently obtained without prescription through friends or people on the street.
The most common types of benzodiazepines come in the form of medications like Versed, Halcion, and Librium. There is a new type of benzo, however, known as flubromazepam that has attracted attention by appearing in internet shops selling designer medications and research chemicals. This new drug could create a lot more potential for abuse as it is not normally obtained through a prescription.
What is Flubromazepam?
Flubromazepam is a benzodiazepine derivative that has been in existence since 1960 when it was first made. It was never marketed as a medication and was forgotten until it re-emerged in 2012 when it began to be sold as a research chemical. It is very similar to the drug phenazepam, another designer benzo that has been marketed by pharmaceutical companies in some countries with flubromazepam only having one single alteration to the formula.
Flubromazepam is still being studied for its effects and the usefulness of the drug as a sedative or painkiller such as Valium or Xanax. Because it is a benzodiazepine derivative it has a similar effect to that type of drug including sedative, hypnotic, muscle relaxant and antiepileptic effects.
Users state that the drug has a strong anxiolytic or anxiety inhibiting effect as well as some muscle relaxation and a mood-lifting effect. People taking flubromazepam do not experience as much brain fog as some other similar type of benzo medications.
Effects of the Drug and other Benzos
Although flubromazepam is now sold on the internet as a research chemical, it can be easily obtained for recreational purposes and has plenty of potential for abuse. It has similar effects to prescription benzos like Bromazepam which is used to treat panic attacks, insomnia and anxiety but it is not yet available through prescription. It is intended for use in pharmaceutical research and clinical trials but recreational users are already experimenting with drug to see how it compares with other types of benzos.
Flubromazepam is likely much stronger than regular pharmaceutical benzos because it is still being studied and developed for prescription use. Recreational users might not be aware of the strength of the medication and end up taking too much without realizing. The drug can also take time to reach its full effect which could potentially lead to overdose if users become impatient and start taking more of the drug.
Flubromazepam also has a long half-life and the effects of the drug can last almost the entire day making it the type of medication that the brain gets adjusted to. When this happens it can potentially lead to a serious addiction because the brain gets used to functioning with the effect of benzodiazepine all the time.
Without it the body and mind could go through intense withdrawal symptoms. Even a single use of this drug can lead to a type of withdrawal effect or “comedown” where the user feels depressed the next day. As with any type of benzo, Flubromazepam can be abused for the purpose of achieving a state of relaxation and euphoria.
The drug, however, can become very addictive and lead to tolerance, withdrawal symptoms and potentially an overdose. A research chemical like Flubromazepam could become problematic the more it is used recreationally.
The first few months of sobriety are often the most difficult especially for addicts that have engaged in substance abuse for much of their life. Detoxing can be physically very painful and mentally stressful in a way that can make addicts truly suffer if they do not have any coping strategies to help get through the process.
The early phases of sobriety involve a lot of withdrawal symptoms that make it hard to focus on the journey of recovery. With the right coping skills it is possible for an addict to get through the most difficult moments of detox and withdrawal without giving in to their urges to use again. These are some helpful skills in coping with early sobriety.
1. Distracting Activities
Hobbies and activities are necessary tools to have when dealing with the type of withdrawal symptoms and intense cravings that accompany the early stages of sobriety. You need to have a list of distracting activities that you enjoy that will effectively keep your mind off of any urges or cravings to use drugs or alcohol.
When your mind becomes absorbed in something else most of the thoughts about substance abuse tend to fade away. Hobbies should be something positive that you are passionate about and an activity that you know will help you forget about your cravings.
2. Exercise and Focus on Health
Physical health is something that can deteriorate as an addiction progresses. People in recovery might also be dealing with health problems in addition to their emotional issues after years of abuse. Focusing on healthy eating and exercising can be a positive way to reduce cravings and stabilize your mood.
Regular exercise helps release tension from the body so that you experience less physical pain and anxiety while boosting your mood. Healthy eating can also improve any physical ailments associated with withdrawal and keep emotions more balanced in order to lessen cravings.
3. Meditation and Relaxation
Withdrawal symptoms and cravings can create a lot of stress and tension that can make an addict’s situation worse. It is important to develop a habit of using relaxation tools on a regular basis to prevent stress from building up to a dangerous level.
Meditation can be a useful tool in creating a clear mind and a sense of being calm, peaceful and relaxed both mentally and physically. Mindful meditation can help you become more aware of how often your thoughts turn to certain patterns and you can learn to redirect your mind to the present moment instead of being lost in negative thoughts.
4. Confront Urges
While finding distracting activities can be one method of fighting cravings, another strategy can involve facing the urge to drink or use head on. This is sometimes called “urge surfing” as a craving can be seen as a kind of wave that builds and then dissipates.
An addict can go with the force of the craving without actually giving in to it and wait for it to pass. It is another way to be completely aware and mindful as the feeling occurs without acting on it.
5. Working and Volunteering
A good physical coping skill in recovery is to stay busy and active in more than just hobbies but also meaningful work. Focusing on a new job or becoming involved in volunteer work can help you feel productive and give you a sense of contributing to something bigger than yourself.
You will be less likely to experience cravings or physical pain and stress when you are busy and involved in something that provides you with a sense of personal growth.
While recovery from addiction can involve a lot of focus on improving behavior, a significant part of the struggle is also dealing with symptoms of physical dependence. Even though there is an emotional and psychological connection to drugs for an addict, there is no denying that their body has grown so physically accustomed to abuse that it becomes difficult to function without it.
The initial phases of recovery can be a time when addicts must battle their symptoms of physical dependence as they go through the stages of withdrawal and detoxify their body. Withdrawal symptoms can be painful and often lead to relapse but an addict can overcome their physical dependence if they are following the advice and guidance of their rehab program.
The Body’s Reaction to Physical Dependence
As someone’s drug use develops from a recreational habit into full time abuse their body changes and adapts to the chemicals they are putting into it. The more an addict begins to drink or use drugs the more their body will shift and respond to the substance abuse.
One of the characteristics of addiction is tolerance or an increasing need for larger amounts of a drug to get the same effects. Whenever an addict experiences tolerance it means they are becoming physically dependent on a drug and their body begins to require the drug in order to function normally.
As a result of tolerance, addicts may eventually be using excessive amounts of drugs right before they quit. The sudden withdrawal from this amount of drug use can lead to serious withdrawal symptoms as the body is attempting to adjust to functioning without the drug.
The body’s physical response to the lack of drug use can be difficult for addicts to handle and they may find themselves dealing with many thoughts of using again.
Strategies for Overcoming Dependence
During the period of detox and withdrawal, a patient in rehab is likely to experience intense cravings and a desire to use drugs again that is hard to ignore. It is this mental battle with physical dependence that can lead addicts to relapse even in the very earliest phases of recovery. It is important for addicts to have strategies in place that will help them overcome their physical dependence and prevent them from giving in to cravings as they go through withdrawal.
One of the first things to establish while in recovery is to create a support network of people to talk to when experiencing cravings and thoughts of drug use. A support system is there to talk you out of making a mistake and to listen when you are worried you will not make it through recovery. It is a good idea for an addict to have a mentor who has already been through each step of the process and can offer useful advice and empathy in the most difficult times.
Creating and establishing a support system early on in rehab will make the journey easier and more successful in the end.
The hardest part of overcoming physical dependence is in knowing what to do when cravings become particularly hard to ignore. In this phase of recovery, addicts must develop a system of distractions and hobbies that take their mind off of drug use.
When thoughts turn to using again they can read a book, watch a movie, listen to music, exercise, play a sport or do anything that will keep them focused on something other than their cravings. These kinds of hobbies can be helpful in dealing with stress which is another problem that can lead to relapse. Eventually the symptoms of physical dependence will subside and it will be time for the next phase of recovery.
For those charged with crimes related to drug possession and intoxication, drug court programs offer a helpful alternative that not only prevent them from serving time in prison but can also change their lives for the better. Instead of being sent to prison for their crimes, addicts are often given the opportunity to have a second chance if the judge offers them a drug court program.
When people suffer from serious drug addictions and are eligible for drug court they can receive treatment and necessary services so that they can become clean and sober. Addicts must prove to the judge that they can change their behavior, abstain from drug use and hold down a job.
After meeting the guidelines for drug court, people with addictions can avoid a prison sentence while also resolving their issues with drugs.
Rehabilitation through Drug Court
There have been many drug court success stories around the country for people who never believed they would ever recover from their addiction. While addicts may initially see the program simply as an opportunity to avoid a jail sentence, it eventually becomes a life-changing experience as they go through the steps of recovery and learn important tools in intensive treatment.
Participants who are facing non-violent drug charges and are eligible for drug court will be given a treatment regimen and must follow guidelines to prove that they are adhering to the program. Those in drug court are given random drug tests to ensure they remain sober, are also paid house visits and must be involved in a steady job as well as community service.
Addicts are given these requirements so that they can regain their accountability and become more responsible members of society while proving to the judge that they deserve to have their charges dropped. Once the participant has completed their program, judges often find that they are completely different people who have truly turned their lives around.
Effective Treatment and Recovery
Most of the participants in drug court programs are people who were arrested for driving under the influence or possessing illegal drugs. They may often accept the terms of the program without a real understanding of the changes they will have to make to meet all the requirements.
Offenders can enter drug court before their case goes to trial and can then have their charges dismissed once they have completed the program. Some participants can attend outpatient treatment programs so that they are still able to live at home while receiving help but others may be put into residential programs where they will undergo intensive treatment full time in a facility.
Many of these types of programs have shown great success especially and preventing any offenders from recommitting the same drug-related crimes. Those involved in the program must be honest about their drug use and confess if they relapse while undergoing treatment.
They might be punished for their mistakes but some can continue completing the program.
Drug court programs have been a part of the legal system for almost 25 years because they have proven to be an effective way to reduce the population of over-crowded prisons and make a difference in the lives of people with addictions. Studies show that the use of social service and rehabilitation leads to lower rates of reoffenders.
Most participants continue to remain sober, work steady jobs and lead meaningful lives after completing their treatment and drug court program. The positive response of participants in drug court has shown that addicts can be rehabilitated and do not always need to be sent to prison for their crimes.
According to statistics posted by Ezra Klein in a 2013 Washington Post article, the U.S. prison population is more then 2.4 million, a quadrupling since 1980. Furthermore, the single largest driver in this increase is putative measures towards drug use, affected by 1998 rules demanding longer sentences for drug offenders.
Thus, it is inevitable that our prison population is filled with many people in desperate need of recovery. Indeed, a 2010 report from Columbia University’s Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) revealed that 65 percent of inmates in federal and state prisons are in need of substance abuse recovery, but only 11 percent receive any care for it.
How We Got Here
Despite scientific research showing that addiction is a brain disorder requiring long-term medical care, popular opinion still seems to communicate that addiction is a moral failure, and that addicted criminals in particular are in need of harsh punishments so they will be “scarred straight.”
However, punishment itself has been shown to be an extremely ineffective in changing anyone’s behavior. Often, felons learn nothing from the prison experience except how to be better drug addicts, and without any supportive resources when they get out, they will simply relapse back into old addictive behavior.
Furthermore, drug use itself is often a significant factor behind criminal behavior. The CASA study showed that 78 percent of all violent crimes and 83 percent of all property crimes are either influenced by drug use, or motivated by a need for money to get abused substances. Since so many felons are users and addicts, the current system of simply locking people up and forgoing effective treatment, instead focusing on “punishment” is doing little good to really transform behavior. Indeed
What Changes Are Needed
Inmates need to receive closer evaluations for substance abuse, as well as the underlying mental health issues (such as depression, anxiety, or trauma) that may be fueling them. So many addicted inmates in prison are simply flying under the radar, and surround in a culture with many other addicts may only perpetuate their behavior.
Our prisons need to meet this awareness with trained staff able to provide long-term programs that have been shown to be affective at encouraging sobriety. While this would require a greater deal of investment, the long run benefit to the individual and their society would end up saving money, upwards of $90,000 annually per rehabilitated and sober former inmate, according to the 2010 CASA study.
Some people suffering from substance abuse don’t belong in prison at all. Simply treating the addictive condition in recovery has been shown to be more effective then jail time, which both has a higher effect at real transformation, and ends up saving the government money in the long run. According to a study on JusticePolicy.org, Maryland saw the cost of offenders decrease from $20,000 a year to $4,000 when it shifted from drug treatment over incarceration.
One issue of particular importance is helping avoid relapse after release from prison. Psychologist Harry Wexler has had a great deal of success helping prisoners avoid relapse through the establishment of therapeutic communities and work release programs, that help an ex-convict leave prison to enter into new environments that make old patterns of behavior less likely.
Pre-release planning and monitored after-care are absolutely essential to make sure treatment remains successful, and leads to real lifestyle changes. Simply holding people in jail is doing nothing to change the behavior of a population that is especially affected and vulnerable to substance abuse. Treatment over every aspect of an addiction and it’s sufferer’s life is the only thing that is truly going to transform behavior
Due to issues related to declining tax revenue, many state governments have recently been forced into making serious budget cuts, and social service programs are often the first to go. This can often have devastating consequences as people dependent on that relief have to go without, and organizations doing a lot of good in their communities have fewer options to get funding. This can create a lot of challenges, as decreased funds mean fewer people are getting help.
Vermont’s Budget Cuts
Vermont is one of many states that is currently making severe budget cuts. This year, Governor Peter Shumlin and state legislators have come to an agreement to cut $31.28 million from the state budget. In the governor’s words, revenues have not climbed up as much as he had hoped, leading to “these tough decisions.” Heath care is one of the largest areas to experience cuts, and alcohol and drug treatments are especially vulnerable.
Under these proposed cuts, substance abuse treatment programs will loose $673,000, the state’s Children and Family Department will loose $3.8 million a year, and organizations that accept Medicaid patients will not receive a promised 1.6 percent increase in funding. This will make it particularly difficult for community organizations that provide health care to people who receive government-funded health insurance for the poor and disabled.
While private insurance can simply charge more to compensate for lost revenue, agencies serving poor people are forced to cut back. Often, human service cuts end up costing the people who use them even more then was cut, due to a loss of matching funds from the federal government. For example, according to Associated Press journalist Dave Gram, taking $500,000 out of a fund for developed disabled residences can end up costing these programs $1.15 million.
Challenges In Vermont
A 2013 report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development revealed that the number of homelessness in Vermont has risen by 25 percent in one year, from 1,160 to 1,453. A 2010 survey from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration also showed that Vermont has the highest rate of illicit drug use in the nation, with rates of marijuana, heroin, and prescription drug abuse rising dramatically.
There are a number of people working to create innovative solutions to deal with these crises. One such group is The Junction, a teen run support group that trains teens to give advice to friends they might not be willing to hear from adults. A new state program established last legislative season encourages more drug offenders to seek treatment rather then jail time.
Earlier this year, the governor made opiate addiction the center of his State of the State address, indicating a focus on helping addicts get treatment. Thus, lawmakers do see a value to these treatment programs, but yet these programs will be unable to live up to their potential with these cuts.
Revising The Budget
Recognizing these risks, on August 14, 2014, some changes were made to the original propose, as the legislator changed the governor’s original proposal. Youth in Transition, which runs the Junction, saw its funding restored. While creating a government budget is complex work involving a lot of hard decisions, government officials and lawmakers need to be aware of how their cuts can have devastating consequences on poor and vulnerable citizens.
Substance abuse wrecks the lives and communities of the people who suffer from it, and so abuse treatment is an indispensable part of any functioning society. It can only be hoped that these cuts are temporary, and will be restored soon.
Issues of addition do not just affect the single individual, but also do harm to a society as a whole. However, the reverse is also true – that recovery from addiction is not only personal, but brings hopeful change to many different aspects of a society.
In recognition of this, for 15 years, the White House has issued a proclamation designating September as “National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month,” as a way of bringing greater awareness to the issues of recovery, how they affect our society, and how we can best support loved ones in the process of recovery.
The President’s Proclamation
On August 29, 2014, President Obama issued an official proclamation declaring our intent as a nation to “celebrate those who are seeking treatment, and those who have found pathways to healthy, rewarding lives” and “stand with families, friends, and professionals who support them.” This year’s theme is “Speak Up, Reach Out.”
The theme urges people with addictions to not hide in shame, but rather, declare and embrace the truth that recovery is possible. To that end, the proclamation itself draws attention to resources addicts seeking help can turn to –
1-800-662-HELP and www.samhsa.gov However, Obama was not content with mere words, but also made commitments to how he, as someone who can influence public policy, can work to make access to recovery easier and more affordable.
The need, And The Response
Recovery month gives recovery communities opportunities to celebrate their successes, and above all share them with family, friends, and neighbors so that people don’t have to know they are without support. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, 17.6 million Americans struggle with alcohol dependence, 20 million have used an illicit drug in the past 30 days, and 48 million are using prescription drugs for a nonmedical purpose. Not all of these people are in treatment or recovery. While there could be many reasons for this, part of the problem is a lack of awareness of what is available. People may not realize what the risks of their substance abuse behavior are, or they may not realize that hope is possible.
National Recovery Awareness Month generates publicity, and allows more people to receive education about both the need and the possibilities of recovery. It can thus be a very important time for people interested in recovery. The website http://www.recoverymonth.gov/ draws attention to these resources, as does the 865 scheduled community events, all dedicated to education and outreach of recovery possibilities.
The recovery month website can offer help if you want to get involved, on this page offering resources related to fundraising and planning an event that can draw attention to issues of recovery, or work together to meet people’s and communities’ need for recovery. Another option is to celebrate your own personal Month of Recovery, by sharing your own story, sensitively telling about your journey with recovery, and offering to listen to someone else.
We still have a long way to go in building a culture that can communicate openly about the possibility of hope, and how people with addictions are not moral failures, but rather, people with an illness who deserve whatever it takes to get sober. This huge government response and awareness campaign is an important step in the right direction. However, an impersonal ad or community event is not going to have the same impact with a friend or loved one as much as sharing your own story, and letting them know that options of help are available for them as well. This is how we can all join in the important work to “Speak Up” and “Reach Out.”
The modern recovery moment traces its origins to Alcoholics Anonymous, in 1939. Over that long period, science has made many advances in understanding the nature of addiction and different ideas of how to treat it. Even as the motivation and need for sobriety has remained unchanged, there are new and innovative methods for accomplishing these goals. Here are some of the recent innovative ideas that are affecting how addiction and treatment is understood.
A Push For Integration Between The Worlds Of Medicine And Recovery
Scientific research, particularly in how an addict’s mind and body operates, has led to a shift away from understanding addiction as a moral failure, or something requiring stronger will power, to an illness requiring medical treatment. In light of this, it is a disturbing reality that most people with the illness of addiction do not get needed medical care.
According to a report from the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, while 80 percent of people who have high blood pressure get medical attention, only about 10 percent of people with addiction are receiving evidence-based treatment.
Many medical doctors are unaware of the reality of addiction, and many people in the recovery movement have very little medical training. Thus, there is a need for addiction medicine to come more in line with medical practice. This means that doctors and other health care providers are becoming need to be made more aware of the issues of substance abuse, learning to test for and diagnose addiction the way they would for any other illness.
A realization that care should be long-term based, and not one-size-fits all
A week or month long stay in a rehab center can do some good helping you get over the initial problems of withdraw, a serious substance abuse problem cannot be “fixed” in such a short period of time. With just one short-term program, it can be easy to relapse as you settle back into a life otherwise unchanged. Recovery should rather be thought of as a long-term process, spread out over months or even years.
Treatment for addiction should be individualized and long-term, responding to your unique needs and caring for you as a whole person, focusing on the biological, emotional, and social challenges of withdraw and sobriety. Cognitive-Behavioral therapy can be a useful way of dealing with root causes, and this is sometimes combined with medications that can lessen withdraw and addiction symptoms. This may also involve the input of a social worker to address living conditions that precipitate addiction. In short, addition counselors are working to make use of a variety of perspectives to get a full picture of a person’s individualized needs, and adjust their program based on which available options will work.
A shift away from merely solving the “negative” issue of getting rid of the addiction, towards a “positive” push towards living a full, sober life
The positive psychology movement of Carl Rogers has led to a shift away from therapists only thinking about people needed treatment as people with problems that need solving. Rather, the important thing is to help all people reach a state of self-actualization, in which an individual is aware of what he or she wants out of life and how to strive for it. In this way of thinking it is not enough merely to understand sobriety as a way of life that avoids substance abuse. Rather, we should look at what can motivate the person to replace addiction with a healthier lifestyle.
The emphasis should be on empowering the individual to work towards something positive, not merely avoiding an addictive substance. While traditionally addiction has been understood primarily as a moral, medical, spiritual, social, or psychological issue, contemporary ways of dealing with the issue integrate all these areas, using a variety of “lenses” to determine how an addict can feel like a whole person again.