The Secret To Treating The Disease Of Addiction
Prevention and Treatment Addiction is a chronic disease, which when left untreated can have very adverse consequences.
“The addicted person has an obsessive compulsive relationship with their drug of choice,” says Dr. Johanna O’Flaherty, Vice President of Treatment Services at the Betty Ford Center. “Addiction to alcohol or drugs is a primary disease that affects the entire family.”
Abstinence vs. harm reduction
Treatment for the disease can be broken down into two pillars – harm reduction (the gentle moderation or “weaning off”) and abstinence (quitting “cold turkey”).
But there are many types of addictions, so the treatments must be equally diverse, says Rob Hadley, head of the Vancouver Addiction Centre and Vancouver Hypnotherapy.
“The population in general nowadays is so overmedicated that we have many longtime users of pharmacy that could be called addicts,” says Hadley.
Of course, Hadley says, some addictions present a more severe challenge.
“The addicted brain is very susceptible to any mood-altering substances and the patient needs to abstain from all (mood-altering substances) as these could lead to a full blown relapse leading the patient back to his or her drug of choice.”
“Take alcohol for example – in some cases you can get to a place where you get moderated, perfectly healthy use,” says Hadley of the practice of harm reduction.
“But when you’re looking at something like crystal meth, there’s not really going to be a massively reduced level of harm just by using less of it,” adds Hadley.
O’Flaherty agrees pointing out that abstinence – in most cases – is the best treatment.
“The addicted brain is very susceptible to any mood-altering substances and the patient needs to abstain from all (mood-altering substances) as these could lead to a full blown relapse leading the patient back to his or her drug of choice,” says O’Flaherty.
Driving forces of success
Both O’Flaherty and Hadley agree that abstinence in addition to an improved lifestyle geared with sobriety, nutritional dietary choices and separation from social circles that may drive addicts to relapse are vital to them kicking the addiction.
“Science substantiates that abstinence based treatment approaches coupled with the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous have been successful for millions of people,” adds Flaherty.