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When Treatment Requires More

Jessica McConnan By Jessica McConnan, M.A. on July 7, 2016

Many abusers simply have a hard time coming to grips with their understandings of addiction based on instilled stigma, related fears, and cultural views.  They try to hide and pretend that things are ok, there’s nothing wrong with them, if they could just do this or that or had this or that, they wouldn’t want to use.

Denials, rationalizations, minimizations, and projection of blame is an addiction trait that comes naturally as a mechanism to reinforce their behaviors.

It happens all the time.  Those who know that they have a substance abuse problem will opt for the quickest and least restrictive choices to treat their problems without ever getting assessed for existential needs.

We have come a long way in targeting drug effects and the interrelation of biological, psychological, spiritual, and social needs, but, there is still a lot to do.

Self-Help Groups

The life of the addict may be dominated by substance use to the virtual exclusion of all other activities and responsibilities. Diminished interests in rewards outside of the drug use can leave the person harshly impaired by the addiction cycles and mental health issues such as depression or even suicidal ideations are not uncommon the more isolated the addict becomes.

Fellowship and positive relationships that support a person in recovery are important in combating the isolation that addiction typically brings.  Groups like A.A. and N.A. are advocated to augment addiction treatment and recovery programs.  They have been around for a long time helping people recover from addictions.

Sitting in a room, listening to the stories of another person affected by drug abuse does little to motivate recovery changes for some, and many will go home with the same problems they came in with.

Meeting Psychosocial Needs

Safety, housing, educational, vocational, financial, child care, prenatal care and medical maintenance for pregnant mothers, domestic, legal, medical, and mental health disorders can be underscored in what the addict needs to helps them sustain long-term addiction recovery.

Many have witnessed the weekly group sessions where the provider hopes that the participants will be able to grasp an inkling of the intended perspectives, only to discover co-existing or underlying needs have not been properly addressed.

In some areas, it can be extremely difficult for the individual to comply with treatment requirements and they leave prematurely.  You simply cannot take a person who has become addicted and gives them detox and educational advice, then send them back into their dysfunctional scenarios at home without addressing underlying causes to the initiation or continued drug abuse and their complex psychosocial needs.

Justifying Critical Care

The justification for the higher levels of resources needed to be expended on addiction treatment is not the prevailing norm, but, we are open to a population of drug users who are disproportionately at a disadvantage for the most basic comprehensive care.

More importantly, studies confirm that integrated services addressing client needs for the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual must be considered when planning for the right levels of care.

Studies have also shown that the most effective treatments are those that include a set of comprehensive medical, social, psychological and rehabilitative services that address all the needs of the individual.

We continue to believe that there is some magical formula that will recreate the motivations and willpower for an addict to quit and remain abstinent, but, time and again, they relapse due to underserved needs.

Living with the Consequences

Accepting the consequences of drug abuse seems to be ingrained in some individuals and no matter what the threat or damages they face, their feelings of worthlessness, inferiority, or guilt gets swept away in immediate satisfaction when they use the drugs.  Most will wait until the end of their options or come to a crisis before any contemplations to seek help.

Any positive motives to get and stay in treatment are often overcome by the powerful forces of the drugs and the conditioning of “cues” that trigger cravings and compulsions to use.

Drug addiction, similar to other chronic physiological and psychological disorders such as high blood pressure, worsens over time, is subject to significant environmental influences (e.g., external stressors), and leaves a residual neural trace that allows rapid “re-addiction” even months and years after detoxification and abstinence.

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