Addiction to a substance or behaviour has been proven to be a brain disease.
It has diagnostic symptoms, a prognosis, and treatment options.
Success rates are the same as other chronic illnesses like diabetes, hypertension and asthma. Despite this addiction treatment remains poorly understood.
What we treat
Addiction is a much stigmatised and misunderstood illness. Treatment isn’t really like what we see in the movies. Addicts have varying degrees of denial. Treatment’s purpose is to remove the justifications that addicts use to continue drinking & using. Dismantling this mental construct takes skill and time from an experienced multi-disciplinary team. Primary Care addiction treatment is solely focussed on achieving the reduction of denial. Once the patient has an acute awareness of the problem, only then can they take responsibility for their recovery. Once denial is removed, treatment moves into the broader context of addiction recovery – and a return to normal functioning.
“I can do it alone”
A lot of people baulk at the prospect of addiction treatment. They provide a lot of very good reasons to stay out of a drug rehab center or alcohol rehab. However, it is a sad truth that very few people are able to beat addiction independently. They try to stop using and feel despondent when they inevitably fail. This leads them to believe that they cannot ever stop which just makes the addiction worse. Effective addiction treatment interrupts the cycle of using and helps the addict develop skills and attitudes to live life without the use of drugs or alcohol. Professional addiction treatment provided in a drug rehab center or alcohol rehabilitation facility is informed by years of research and clinical experience. The clinicians are able to identify the features of addiction and develop an addiction treatment program to address the individual features of the patient’s addiction. They are able to assess the patient and provide medical and psychotherapeutic interventions to treat the illness. You wouldn’t expect a cancer patient to be able to overcome cancer independently, why should addiction be any different?
Addiction treatment needs to start with a properly supervised detoxification (“detox”) to rid the body of any leftover toxins. This helps the patient approach addiction treatment with a clear mind and sound body. Most drug rehab centers offer a detox program but some will refer a client to a specialist unit. It is important for a detox to be medically supervised and you should always consult with your doctor regarding this decision.
It is hard to measure the “success” of an addiction treatment program. Ideally, the aim of addiction treatment is to help the addict or alcoholic remain abstinent and in recovery for the rest of her life. In this case, “success” can only be measured when the addict finally dies at a ripe old age having lived a happy and fruitful life. Addiction treatment does not purport to “cure” addiction. Even if you have completed addiction treatment you will not be able to use drugs or drink alcohol. Relapse into addiction is inevitable if you again start drinking or using drugs. When a clinic claims to have an “80% success” rate you should be careful to check how they define success and whether their claim has been independently verified. The old joke that approximately 47.23% of all statistics are made up on the spot is sadly a truism of life. Rather let us look at success within the broader context of addiction recovery. The success of a program shouldn’t be measured simply as a function of the 28 days a person spends at the drug rehab or alcohol rehabilitation center. Rather let us say that the clinic should offer ongoing care and support in the form of aftercare, groups, or individual sessions. A definition of success should include some measure of ongoing support and recovery.
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