Diverse and Varied Approaches to Alcohol and Drug Treatment
Over the past fifty years, the treatment of addiction has gone through many changes, with everyone looking for the best solution to this problem.
Some researchers have seen addiction as being a purely physical problem that can be effectively treated by giving an addict the drug that satisfies his cravings. An example of this treatment is the use of methadone maintenance for the treatment of opiate addiction. Methadone is a synthetic opiate that has many of the same properties as heroin or morphine, but is unique in that it takes much longer to metabolize and therefore the sickness that comes with opiate withdrawals is delayed by approximately eighteen hours over the onset of cravings and sickness from most opiates, like heroin. Therefore, the theory behind this treatment lies in the idea that there are brain changes that happen to individuals that are addicted to opiates and they can't be changed, so the opiate addict will always crave some types of opiates. If given methadone, his cravings and withdrawals symptoms don't appear for about 24-hours after taking this drug.
Others, with the same basic philosophy about addiction have created drugs that cause an aversion or repulsion when the addict takes his drug of choice. An example of this type of aversion treatment is the use of antabuse for the treatment of alcoholism. Antabuse is the commercial name for Disulfiram; a chemical when taken causes the body to have an acute sensitivity to alcohol. The symptoms to this sensitivity include flushing of the skin, accelerated heart rate, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, throbbing headache, visual disturbances, mental confusion and even circulatory collapse. So the theory of this treatment assume that an alcoholic that is taking Antabuse will stay away from alcohol, but it has been found that many alcoholics will tolerate these reactions in order to have his drug of choice, alcohol. This treatment can put an alcoholic at risk to hurt himself by violating his better knowledge and drinking on top of his Antabuse treatment.
Some treatment professionals believe that the most effective treatment is a form of aversion therapy. In this treatment, an alcoholic or drug addicted person is exposed to his drug of choice while simultaneously being subjected to some form of discomfort. The theory is to get the patient to associate his drug of choice with unpleasant sensations in order to arrest his cravings and use of the drug.
The 12-steps of Alcoholics Anonymous is the widest spread and most recognizable form of addiction treatment. This type of treatment is taken from the procedures used by the self-help support groups of AA, which commonly uses some group therapy combined with education and mandatory attendance of 12-step meeting back in the community where the addict resides.
Another type of treatment that has its followers and successes is a form of behavior modification known as Therapeutic Communities or TCs. This type of treatment uses social acceptance and rejection as motivators to change the addictive thinking of its clients. These programs are usually a year or more in length and face their biggest challenges when a person graduates from this controlled environment to operating in society again. This type of treatment is advocated by the criminal justice system, with fewer patients coming from the general public's addicted population.
Forty-five years ago, Willie Benitez, an inmate in Arizona state prison, was serving a sentence for his illegal activities related to his addiction to heroin and his inability to find effective drug rehabilitation that could solve his cravings and help him have enough self-control to not break the laws in his attempts to procure his drug of choice, heroin. Mr. Benitez read a book of philosophy by L. Ron Hubbard and was encouraged that there may be something that he could do in relation to Mr. Hubbard's ideas that could resolve his mental cravings and irrational reactions to his desire to have this drug. He wrote to Mr. Hubbard and requested guidance in handling his addiction. From that correspondence and others to follow, Mr. Benitez developed the Narconon Rehabilitation Program in his prison. It was so successful that when Mr. Benitez was eligible for parole, he asked if he could stay in prison to continue his work with other addicts who were finding relief from their addiction by following the practices and philosophy of Mr. Hubbard.
Today, Narconon has become one the largest treatment providers, with over one hundred drug rehab centers and drug prevention/education centers around the world. In the last twenty years, Narconon has grown in the United States from one small center to now being one of the largest treatment centers in America, with many other Narconon centers prospering throughout the country.
Every one of these types of treatment will have a following of recovering or recovered addicts who believe in one of these types of treatment. For those that are looking for treatment for themselves or a loved one, it is suggested that you weigh the successes of a program on the percentages of those that succeed and not on individual testimony, your treatment needs to be something that has proven to be successful for the largest number of individuals. Every form of treatment has some successes, but the one that has the highest percentage of success is probably addressing the issues that cause and keep most people addicted to alcohol and other drugs.