Addiction is Now at Epidemic Proportions photo

Addiction is Now at Epidemic Proportions

A Pervasive Illness Needs a Pervasive Remedy

Addiction is anything but a one-dimensional problem. We are obsessed with quitting and that is essential without a doubt, but staying quit is the ultimate solution. Sadly, that prize has historically evaded us in grand style.

Knowing no bounds, addiction is now at epidemic proportions in the U.S. (1, 2). To complicate matters, we are also overwhelmed with a burgeoning marketplace of treatment services. Not all of them are the same, and they are often effective for only a specific few when all is said and done. Probably the best piece of information you can be armed with as you seek help for yourself or a loved one is that effective addiction treatment is not a one-size-fits-all proposition by any means.

Even though it’s often seemed so historically, effective treatment cannot be reduced to a ‘get abstinent and stay abstinent’ formula. If only it were that simple, but the pervasive illness we are up against requires more of us. We have to take remedies into all the many areas of life inevitably claimed by addiction.  We also have to remember that all addicted people are not alike, and individual needs are, well, precisely that. Treatment success and failure rates tell us that we have missed the mark on many such key points. The issue of relapse is probably the most telling.

The Problem with Relapse

Despite best efforts on both sides of the clinical fence, the treatment world historically has, on average and globally, given us no better odds of recovery than the statistics of a coin toss would. We’ve seen a staggering 50% rate of failure to sustain abstinence after an intervention. Some research has been even more alarming with estimates of up to 75% of people relapsing after treatment (3). The revolving rehab door syndrome has been a very real problem for a long time and for many, many people. What those numbers mean in human suffering is beyond measure. Fortunately, tackling that problem has been the topic of a long and deep conversation in the field.

We’ve long known that most relapses occur within the first 90 days of abstinence. After that window of vulnerability, the risk of relapse steadily decreases the longer you abstain. It’s obvious that getting from detox to the realm of better odds is critical. Longer treatment stays help, but sadly those can be uncommon these days. Some spend just 4-7 days in detox and then head straight home again. Even the common 28-day stay is just a drop in the bucket compared to how long an addict suffers prior to treatment. Given the pervasive personal change needed for success, treatment has often done little more than hit the reset button again and again for people who repeatedly relapsed.

 The Old Paradigm vs the New

 With the burdensome fact of poor success rates always looming, we’ve desperately needed to know how to do better. The result has been a shift in our understanding of the illness and what it takes to beat it. We now talk about the ‘old paradigm’ of treatment and recovery vs. the ‘new’. 

At bare-bones, the ‘old’ has been an acute care model concerned with a ‘fresh start’ and preventing relapse. In a relatively brief period (4, 7, 14, 28 days), people withdrew and detoxed, got basic disease education, and went through a crash course (if there was time) of coping strategies to prevent relapse. After discharge, recommendations were typically made to rely on self-help groups like 12 Step programs to fortify continued efforts to remain abstinent (4).

Many programs have also historically incorporated 12 Step principles into their in-house treatment. This posed significant problems for those not entirely comfortable with that philosophy, or those that had no success with it. Another sticking point was that, while exceedingly helpful to countless people the world over, self-help methods are readily available free of charge in most communities. No one needed to go to rehab to benefit from them.

The ‘new paradigm’ of addiction treatment shifted its focus to more intensive clinical help, emphasizing addiction as a pervasive illness, and looking to remedy the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral issues that sustain the illness (5). Deep clinical interventions beyond detox give time, with the right help, to get at underlying and co-existing issues that contribute to relapse. They also fortify people to get through those times of relapse vulnerability after completing a program.

Our holistic, non-12-Step addiction recovery program leads you on a journey to real, lasting transformation. Contact us today to take the first step.

Sources 

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Increases in Drug and Opioid Overdose Deaths — United States, 2000–2014. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), 64:1-5.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Today’s Heroin Epidemic. Retrieved October 2, 2016 from http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/heroin/index.html
  3. Miller, W. R., Walters, S. T., & Bennett, M. E. (2001). How effective is alcoholism treatment in the United States? Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 62(2): 211-220.  
  4. White, W. L. (2014). Slaying the Dragon: The History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America, 2nd ed. Chicago: Chestnut Health Systems.
  5. DuPont, R. L. & Humphreys, K. (2011). A New Paradigm for Long-Term Recovery, Substance Abuse, 32:1, 1-6.