Apart from a select few facilities, addiction treatment in this country is coming up short. Though surely not from a lack of caring or good intentions, the majority of drug and alcohol treatment facilities are still using ineffective and counterproductive treatment methods, leaving many addicts in a constant cycle of treatment to relapse and returning to treatment- if they are lucky. So what are the problems that need to be addressed?
- Focus on Treating the Masses Versus the Individual. With the massive numbers of people succumbing to addiction every day, the addiction treatment industry is scrambling to provide service to as many people as possible. Unfortunately, when mass numbers of people are being treated in one facility, quality of treatment tends to decline as a result of many factors, such as staffing needs and financial limitations. The individual addict often gets lost in the system, and we as a treatment community need to find ways to provide better care on an individual level.
- Only Using Conventional Medicine to Treat Addicts. While conventional medicine is certainly beneficial, there is often a lack of supplemental holistic therapies that provide proven benefits to those in recovery from addiction and alcoholism. Modalities such as yoga, meditation, acupuncture, massage, and mindfulness training all impart considerable benefits, that contribute to healing the emotional and spiritual sickness of the addict in addition to the physical. While these treatments can be costly, their benefit to clients and contribution to long-term recovery argue for their inclusion in any addiction treatment program.
- Insufficient (or Nonexistent) Individualized Treatment. Group therapy is an excellent tool- it provides recovering addicts and alcoholics with the chance to learn from their peers, become comfortable with expressing their feelings to others, and develop reassurance in the belief that they are not alone in their pain. However, group therapy simply cannot serve as a substitute for one-on-one counseling. Addicts in treatment need frequent individual therapy sessions, in order to get down to the root causes and conditions of their unique situation, and learn tools that will help them to change lifelong patterns in order to support stable and lasting recovery.
- Heavy Focus on “Medication Maintenance”. In today’s pharmaceutical-focused world, many have touted suboxone, methadone, and other medications as cures for or saviors of the opioid epidemic. However, many of these medications possess abuse potential of their own, and come with their own set of physical dependence risks and withdrawal symptoms, that often rival the drug they are supposed to be replacing. There has been evidence of these drugs being illegally taken and distributed. When these drugs are prescribed or given without any supplemental therapy or addiction treatment, and the intention is to remain on them beyond a period of detoxification (sometimes for the rest of one’s life!), the addict is left in nearly the same situation they were in before- dependent on a drug, with the same emotional and mental issues that contributed to their addiction in the first place.
- Lack of Aftercare Planning. Finally, most addiction treatment suffers from a considerable lack of aftercare planning- i.e., what the addict is supposed to do upon leaving inpatient treatment. When treatment facilities release a client with no plans for sober living, continued therapy, and finding employment or educational opportunities, the addict is much more likely to return to using upon their release. Each facility needs to begin taking a more intensive interest in each of their clients, and provide them with the tools they need to have a chance at stability and sobriety when they return to the “real world.”
If you or someone you know needs treatment for a drug or alcohol addiction, call the professionals at Serenity Acres today for your free confidential assessment: 1-800-203-2024.