What do you think: “Does addiction medicine hold the eventual cure for substance abuse treatment and alcoholism? Or are we going to ultimately have to deal with these problems the old fashioned way, and keep treating them the same way that we do now?
Some people believe that modern medicine will eventually cure addiction. In fact, there are some people who believe that it basically already has–for example, the opiate addict who is now existing on Suboxone maintenance so that they do not go back to shooting heroin in the streets. But even this is hard to argue as being a real cure, because the person has to continue to keep ingesting a fake opiate in order to stay off of their drug of choice. An outsider might argue that this is no better at all practically. And some would say that they are not really learning how to live without self medicating either, and so their chances of returning to street drugs remains high.
Then there are drugs such as Campral, that are designed to reduce cravings for alcohol. Does this stuff really work? Well the bottom line is that they have done some controlled studies that showed at least some effectiveness for these types of drugs. Both the anti craving and the replacement strategy drug (like Suboxone) have been shown to be at least somewhat effective in clinical trials, otherwise they would not be on the market. But how effective are they really?
I have only two arguments against their effectiveness, but they are both powerful in my opinion. Unfortunately they are both fairly subjective arguments, but that does not make them any less powerful in my mind.
First of all, I work in a rehab, and I see people who get started on these medications all the time. Some are alcoholics who start taking the Campral to help fight alcohol cravings, and the other group are opiate addicts who start taking Suboxone every day to help prevent relapse on heroin or painkillers.
Now my subjective piece of evidence (that is powerful to me) is this: nearly every single person who has started on a medication like this has come back to rehab for a future visit. In other words, they all relapsed. Nearly every single one that I saw ended up relapsing.
I think there is a strong reason for this: if you take a hundred recovering addicts, and offer them a pill that could help them, the people who take the pill are the ones who have the wrong attitude to begin with. They are looking for the quick fix. So they were destined to fail, pill or no pill. Again that is just my opinion, but I base this on watching hundreds of addicts and alcoholics every year.
Second piece of subjective evidence: this is my opinion as well. My thought is that if either of these two medications I gave for examples were more effective, they would be huge news in the treatment industry.
Look at the costs involved: treatment is astronomically expensive, especially given that it rarely works. Less than 90 percent will be clean and sober for a full year after leaving any rehab.
If these pills actually made a substantial difference, they would revolutionize the treatment industry.
The drug companies are scrambling to find new drugs to help treat addiction and alcoholism. They know it is a huge, untapped market. They are all hoping for a breakthrough drug that will suddenly become the magic cure for addiction everywhere.
I would not bet on it. Addicts are tougher to crack than that. They will just refuse it and get high until they are truly ready to change.
My 2 cents….