Addiction comes in many forms and plagues millions of people around the globe. For the purpose of this article we’ll be focusing on substance misuse and abuse, better known as drugs and alcohol addiction.
Mood altering substance addictions such as heroin, cocaine, alcohol, and a slew of other intoxicating substances deliver an effect to the brain that sends the pleasure sensors into over load. They literally go nuts and start having a party inside our head. Unfortunately, they expect a larger party each time they come out to play and so the dose needs to be increased to repeat the previous sensations. With this is mind, it’s obvious to some that although it requires a fair amount of daily repetitive dosing for the pattern to become formalized, it doesn’t take much to begin to understand how people may become addicted, and once this line is crossed, addiction literally takes a lifetime to overcome.
The ultimate goal for anyone or any family seeking treatment for addiction must therefore surely be one of total abstinence. Though this word may carries with it religious and sexual connotations, it’s actually about a substance free recovery, which then permits the person’s brain to relearn, how to live under it’s own steam once again.
What is Abstinence Recovery?
Abstinence-based recovery is the preferred treatment option for the vast majority of ‘addictionologists’ or addiction treatment specialists, which focuses on helping an addicted individual, overcome their addictive illness (after they’ve detoxed) without the assistance of any drugs, prescribed or otherwise.
This type of treatment is best administrated in a comfortable, secure facility where the withdrawal symptoms can be properly managed by a residing Doctor and where the addicted individual can receive proper medical support throughout their detox, before advancing to the abstinence based rehabilitation stage of their recovery.
Why Abstinence-Based Recovery May be a Good Option
The Absence of a Crutch to Lean On
One of the most glaring issues with conventional treatments with an addiction like heroin, for example, is that methadone is still a drug. This is still a crutch that’s being leaned on. When an addicted individual has such a crutch, it’s questionable whether or not their recovery is to be considered genuine or whether the alternative drug has temporarily quashed the craving of the opiate, but replaced it with another more powerful, but simply prescribed dose of opiate, thus rendering any conclusions of recovery null and void. The addiction is still alive and kicking.
Similar stories could be considered for alcoholics who continue to manage their drinking by supplementing prescribed medications, including anti-depressants, which are often (though not exclusively) prescribed because the person complains of being depressed, which is no real surprise if the alcoholic is drinking a liquid depressant (alcohol). The Doctor who prescribes such a drug is treating the symptoms and not the cause, in the same way that being prescribed methadone is treating the problem and not considering the solution.
Without a crutch, the addicted individual is forced to feel their recovery and learn new life coping mechanisms, that are genuinely useful and permanent, rather than debilitating and temporary. It is also useful for them to understand the physical and mental consequences of being an addict, and precisely how to recover thereafter.
Learning to Deal with Your Issues
The absence of alternative drugs and other stimulants forces an addict to deal with their lives without anything else to put their addiction into. For instance, an alcoholic without a drink has the ability to open themselves up to the realities of the world around them. Gradually a recovering addict or alcoholic finds inspiration from society and looks for work or repairing relationships. Their lives transition back into a state of normalness.
An abstinence-based recovery plan puts an addict face-to-face with their raw addiction with no alternatives to quell that addiction, except the new programme of recovery they’re beginning to understand, through treatment or 12 step Fellowships or Sober Coaching, etc.
Actually Feeling a Sober Lifestyle
It has been argued by addicts and other treatment professionals that alternative drugs and stimulants simply create a new type of addiction that’s equally as dangerous. The addiction being supplemented or replaced with alternative drugs does not allow the addict to think and feel their way into a sober lifestyle; instead, they build another addiction while fighting the initial disease.
In an abstinence-based program, the addict actually feels what it’s like to be sober. Without the presence of alternative drugs to supplement the cravings, the addicted individual is feeling how their mind, body and soul gets on without any intoxicants or stimulants. The goal, of course, is to have an addict embrace their sober selves.
There is no treatment that is 100% effective for addiction, but of all the programmes and technologies available around the world currently, the one that has shown itself to offer to most positive life style changes and chances of permanent sobriety is the 12 Step Programme, available through private treatments facilities and free of charge to everyone in their local communities through Fellowships such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Cocaine Anonymous.
This type of mental disease is challenging to compete against, but absolutely possible, given enough desperation from the addict / alcoholic seeking help. And as everyone in recovery knows all too well that “one day at a time” really does means … one day at a time!
So, to summarize, abstinence-based recovery really does offer far more realistic treatment options for addicts than programmes that simply supplement their habits and assist in the creation of new addictions. It is for this reason that Sober Services does not support alternative prescribing as a long-term solution to addiction and believes that many Government policies around the world are misguided in their liberal use of alternative prescribing. Ask a drug addict what they want and it’s no surprise that they ask for more drugs please… and can we have them for free? Ask a recovering addict or alcoholic what they want, and the very last think they desire is more drugs or booze.