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5 Reasons to Refuse an Addiction Treatment (and 5 Reasons Not to)

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

During drug rehab, dozens of different therapies may be incorporated into a treatment plan. If you’ve done your research and chosen a reputable rehab center, it’s best to keep an open mind and trust the advice of your treatment team. But there are a few instances when you may want to do your own research, get a second opinion or even decline a certain treatment:

#1 The Treatment Isn’t Backed by Research
Thanks to a growing body of research, we have a good idea of what works and what doesn’t in the treatment of addiction. Even with this knowledge, a surprising number of treatment centers use interventions that are not backed by research. In fact, a five-year study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University found that most people receiving treatment for addiction “do not receive anything that approximates evidence-based care.”

Psychosocial therapies, medication, nutrition and exercise, and self-help support groups are a few examples of effective components of a comprehensive treatment plan. Newer therapies that haven’t been around long enough to be thoroughly studied also may be worth trying, especially if they have very little potential to do harm.

Home Detox: What’s The Worst That Could Happen?

Friday, February 28th, 2014

doctor taking blood pressureDo-it-yourself detox programs make lofty promises, assuring addicts they can get clean ultra-fast, ultra-cheap. While easy fixes are difficult to resist, especially when it comes to a challenge as great as addiction, anyone who promises a painless, quick and permanent transition from addict to non-addict is deluded about the nature of this disease.

Detox, the process of eliminating drugs and alcohol from the body, is the first step toward recovery. For all our disagreements, one of the areas in which addiction specialists are nearly unanimous is that drug detox should take place in a licensed detox facility where the process is monitored and supervised by medical professionals.

Addicts and Wolves: An Unlikely Pair

Friday, July 12th, 2013

wolf at wolf therapyBased on media portrayals and folklore, we’re led to believe that people and wolves are arch enemies that compete for food and resources. Science has a different story to tell – one not only of coexistence but even cooperation.

Today, wild spaces are dwindling and wolf populations have been slow to rebound from near extinction, but people continue to benefit from interactions with these smart, sensitive creatures. For most of us, our beloved dogs – direct descendants of wolves – are the closest we’ll ever get to a wolf. Wolf Connection, an innovative wolf therapy program and wolfdog rescue in the high desert north of Los Angeles, seeks to change that.

Wolfdogs as Therapy Animals

When the wolfdog rescue first opened in 2009, founder Teo Alfero sought to educate and empower young people by simply allowing them to spend time with the animals. Four years later, it has evolved into a therapeutic program with a set of “wolf principles,” or lessons humans can learn from wolves. Wolf Connection now serves a number of specialized populations, ranging from abused and neglected foster care children and juvenile delinquents to veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and people struggling with drug addiction.

5 Ironies that Keep Addicts Sick Over the Holidays

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

drunk at ChristmasThere is little evidence that depression or suicide rates rise during the holidays, but the season is certainly known for its excesses. Although just as many people (if not more) need help for drug and alcohol addiction, fewer people reach out for treatment in the last couple months of the year. Addicts generally object to being away from home during family gatherings at Thanksgiving or Christmas, but for some families, seeking help during the holidays could be the greatest gift you give this year. Here are a few ironies that keep addicts sick over the holidays:

#1 Drug use is more common yet people are less likely to get help.

Even in the face of serious consequences, some addicts put off getting help so that they can get through the holiday festivities without disappearing off to rehab. Some party even harder around the holidays, flying under the radar of loved ones because it is socially acceptable to overdo the celebrating. Unfortunately, the stress of the season can exacerbate substance abuse, leaving an addict spiraling out of control.

The day before Thanksgiving, described in the media as Black Wednesday, is one of the biggest partying nights of the year, with the National Health Institute estimating that 10.8 million underage drinkers binge that day. According to Nielsen reports, alcohol consumption increases dramatically in December and in the week leading up to the New Year. All of this alcohol fuels as much as a 25 percent increase in alcohol-related traffic incidents, prompting President Barack Obama to declare December National Impaired Driving Prevention Month.

5 Therapies To Try Before Giving Up On Recovery

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

When people arrive at an addiction treatment center, they typically don’t want to be there. They’re agitated and apprehensive, and they doubt whether they even have a problem, especially one that is as bad as their families, employers or the courts believe.

In many cases, the last thing they want to do is sit down for talk therapy or attend a support meeting, though both are essential elements of treatment. What they do want is relief from the discomfort of withdrawal.

There is no better way to begin building rapport with a client – and to keep them in treatment – than to listen attentively and help them feel better as quickly as possible. This is where complementary and alternative therapies can be of great value to the addict, particularly in the early stages of recovery.

Whether a client agrees with the therapist’s perspective or not, they are appreciative of any intervention that addresses their insomnia, anxiety, muscle cramps and other withdrawal symptoms. Not only are these symptoms unpleasant, but they are also major factors in relapse.

Once the therapist shows an interest in the problem as the addict defines it, the addict is more willing to talk about the problem as the therapist defines it. And so a relationship begins.

What Is Evidence-Based Addiction Treatment, Anyway?

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

addiction recoveryLast month, The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University released a five-year study assessing the state of addiction treatment in the U.S. Among other findings, CASA reported that only one in 10 people in need of addiction treatment get it, and of those who do, most “do not receive anything that approximates evidence-based care.”

Evidence-based care does exist in a minority of treatment centers, but how does one go about finding it? What exactly is evidence-based care? In short, evidence-based care is treatment that is backed by scientific research. According to CASA, it includes the following elements:

Comprehensive Assessments – To understand each individual’s specific needs, CASA advises physicians and other health professionals to complete a comprehensive assessment. This assessment should evaluate the individual’s medical, psychological, social, family and substance use history, current health status, addictive behaviors, personality traits, and the presence of any co-occurring disorders.

Based on this assessment, the team develops an individualized treatment plan that contains specific goals and interventions. As the patient’s needs change, the treatment plan is revised accordingly.

The 5 Most Controversial Addiction Treatments

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

More people are addicted to drugs now than any time in our nation’s history. Addiction has become public enemy number one, and the search is on for new treatments. Surgeries, pills, vaccines – we’re willing to try anything if it means putting an end to the suffering. But has science gone too far?

Here are five of the most controversial addiction treatments that beg the question, “Is this the best we can do?”

#1 Methadone and Suboxone

Methadone and Suboxone are opioids that have been well-studied and widely used to minimize withdrawal symptoms and cravings in opiate addicts. By removing addicts from the junkie lifestyle, these medications have been marketed as a solution to a life of crime, sickness, unemployment and poverty, with minimal side effects and a more affordable price tag than rehab.

Why the Controversy: Once believed to be a “cure” for opiate addiction, the drawbacks to these medications have become clear over time. Both medications are addictive and difficult to wean off of because of severe withdrawal symptoms. Although Suboxone is generally preferred over methadone because it reduces the risk of addiction and overdose and blocks the effects of other opiates, neither medication addresses the complex underlying causes of addiction. This means that counseling, self-help groups and other treatments are still essential for long-term success.

How Long Is ‘Long-Term’ Drug Rehab?

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

As a result of numerous outcome studies conducted in the past decade, there is a growing consensus that for those who can manage it, long-term addiction treatment is the most effective option. We frequently meet the addict who bounces from 30-day rehab to 30-day rehab, only to hold onto their sobriety after staying in treatment for many months.

Thirty days of residential treatment used to be the generally accepted standard in treatment. Why 30? Not because research showed its effectiveness, but because that was the average length of stay covered by insurance. Now, the National Institute of Drug Abuse has declared 90 days of treatment the “gold standard.”

This is because research shows that people completing at least 90 days of treatment have significantly lower relapse rates than those who stay for shorter amounts of time.

Why Longer Is Better

It’s difficult for people to commit to 30 days away from their families and jobs, not to mention 90-plus days, but addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease that takes time and ongoing effort to address. Longer treatment stays offer the following benefits:

Detox Doesn’t Dominate. Depending on the individual and their drug history, detox may take up a significant portion of a 30-day drug rehab program. And while detox is a critical part of the process, it is not in itself treatment. With a longer treatment stay, clients still have several weeks or more following detox to engage in the deeper work of recovery.

How To Get The Most Out Of Drug Rehab

Monday, April 30th, 2012

group therapyDrug rehab is both an opportunity and an investment. Like all investments, it can be strategically planned and implemented, or it can be an opportunity squandered.

Even if you have all the resources you could hope for and choose the most respected program in the country, no drug rehab can do the work of recovery for you. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your time in drug rehab:

Stay Positive. People often come into rehab feeling defeated and hopeless, especially if they have been through treatment before and relapsed. Celebrating your willingness to try again and the courage it takes to ask for help can set a positive tone for your recovery.

The Challenges Of Treating High-Functioning Addicts (And How To Overcome Them)

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

High-functioning alcoholics and addicts are hard to get into treatment, and pose unique treatment challenges once they arrive. What makes the high-functioning addict so difficult to reach?

Challenge #1: Denial

Denial is perhaps the greatest obstacle to getting a high-functioning addict into treatment. High-functioning addicts are often intelligent and persuasive, characteristics that are used by the disease to justify maintaining their addiction. Because they do not fit the stereotype of a drug addict, feel that their lives are manageable, and haven’t hit “rock bottom,” many HFAs insist they do not need help.

They lie, argue and manipulate their way out of addiction and rationalize their behaviors, often so effectively that loved ones and colleagues question their own observations.

Overcome it: It takes a skilled interventionist and experienced treatment team to help the HFA overcome their sophisticated system of denial and accept their powerlessness over addiction. An intervention allows the HFA to experience the full consequences of their behaviors and helps them understand the impact their addiction has had on the people closest to them.


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