Human beings are physiologically complex creatures. Our physical makeup intertwines with our emotional and social needs. Medical conditions like opioid use disorder can be difficult to understand, which makes treating it properly a challenge for so many. Studies show that while some people have a biological or genetic component that makes them more vulnerable to substance abuse, for others, it is social and behavioral factors that led them to this battle. For most though, it is a combination of several different physical, emotional and social elements that contribute to their problematic relationships with opioids and other substances.
Although the root cause of the addiction has so many variables, essentially, opioid dependence is a physiological condition that requires medical attention. Far too many opioid treatment programs rely on archaic methods of viewing and treating drug addiction that doom patients to a lifetime of relapse and frustration. Sometimes, multiple treatment attempts become so exhausting and ineffective that patients become hopeless, paying the ultimate price. In addition to being associated with a significant rate of relapse, traditional drug treatment methods often fail to diagnose existing mental health issues. Untreated mental conditions often cause emotional distress which leads to drug cravings. Intense craving leads to relapse, which may result in a feeling of failure followed by hopelessness and, sometimes, overdose.
Improving Our Understanding of Addiction
There are physical, social and emotional factors at play when a person struggles with an addiction to drugs, especially opioids. Some people, thanks to genetics or family history, are more likely to develop an addiction issue than others. There is also a biological component that predisposes certain individuals to addiction. In addition to the physiological aspect, there are active emotional components involved in addiction, such as the connection between the chemical response of the brain and the desire to use drugs. The physical relief of no longer being in distress brings on feelings of euphoria and happiness, which creates a powerful need to continue to use drugs. Unfortunately, many people mistakenly believe that an individual’s ability to decipher between right from wrong should automatically and effortlessly trump their physical desire to use drugs. As the popular song goes, “How can something that feels so right, be so wrong?”
The inability to stop the drug use turns into dependence. Then, once the user realizes that they are dependent on opioids, they experience feelings of shame and fear. Often the next steps are repeated attempts to overcome a painful withdrawal. Eventually, the user is overwhelmed, feels stuck, knows that they are now considered a drug dependent and believes that he or she is a failure.
The key to effectively treating Opioid Abuse Disorder is to provide patients with adequate medical treatment options—treatments that will reverse the physical dependence on opioids and relieve the cravings. This approach should also include an individualized emotional assessment. Additionally, accessible and adequate mental health services can help establish valuable life skills to overcome anxiety, sadness, and stress—all factors that have been proven to lead to relapse.
When Drug Treatment Programs Fail the Patient
For years, drug treatment facilities have convinced patients that they are suffering from a disease for which there is no cure. These facilities focus on the symptoms of addiction, often failing to see the person. Instead, they attempt to keep clients sober by continually reminding them of their weakness for temptations. These centers perpetuate the beliefs that “once an addict always an addict,” addiction is an incurable, chronic disease and that surrender is the only choice. This treatment approach is unproductive and can result in the destruction of self-esteem, leaving people feeling like misfits of society with no hope of being free from addiction.
By focusing on the addiction instead of the patient as an individual with unique needs, the treatment industry has caused many people to suffer dire consequences. Many of those who were battling addiction lost their lives to this deadly condition, and their loved ones were forced to deal with the grief that follows such a traumatic loss.
How Can We Improve Opioid Treatment Programs for Patients?
In the face of the failures of these harmful approaches, it is evident that there needs to be an immediate change. Currently, there are medical treatment options that reverse the physical dependence on opioids. An effective medical detoxification allows patients to reverse opioid dependence promptly. By immediately addressing the medical condition, the destructive social and emotional side effects of addiction can also be prevented. Also, non-addictive pharmacological therapies are readily available to eliminate the physical cravings and painful withdrawal symptoms. Being drug- and craving-free allows patients to address the underlying emotional conditions more productively.
We now know that there are effective treatment options for opioid addiction, and that patients can go on living a full productive life. It is possible to reverse opioid dependence medically, regulate chemical imbalances and treat nearly every type of mental health condition. So, why are so many drug treatment providers still treating substance abuse as a lifelong condition that can never be cured? Why are those dependant upon opioids told that they are doomed to suffer through a lifetime of struggles, failures and stigmas? Why are they being told that addiction is part of who they are and not the moment they are in?
Unfortunately, too many treatment programs continue to keep people on a treadmill of relapse and recovery, an eternal revolving door to more treatment. The sad reality is that financial profits increase with continuous treatment as opposed to when a reliable, proven solution is provided.
The Time to Heal is Now
The time to start changing the way we see and treat those suffering from drug addiction is now. We need to advocate for more individualized assessment, effective medical detoxification and accessible mental health treatment. We also need to use all available social media resources to help the public develop a better understanding of what addiction really is. Information and education will help eliminate the stigma and fear that prevent so many from seeking help. By increasing the availability of effective opioid treatment programs and the quality of mental health care, we will be able to reverse the course of the current opioid crisis that plagues our country.
Waismann Method® Rapid Detox is an opiate detoxification treatment program serving individuals from all over the world in their exclusive center in Southern California. Connect on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram