Essay on Drug Addiction

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    This is an essay on drug addiction and how the substance abuse industry has to change in order to make progress in treating struggling addicts and alcoholics.  Current success rates in the treatment center industry are typically quite low, and they will probably never be outstanding, but we should be pushing for serious change in order to see some progress being made.

    Right now the majority of treatment is still based on the twelve step approach that is based on programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous.  Many people who are involved in that program would say “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  Well I have news for the world: it’s broke.  Success rates for anything longer than a year of total abstinence are never over 5 percent when you consider the entire pool of starting addicts and alcoholics.

    Grace Cathedral
    Creative Commons License photo credit: Michael Cavén

    What does that last sentence really mean?  It means that if you count everyone who tries to get clean and sober using the program, then less than 5 percent make it to a year sober.  The full 5 percent would actually be generous by most estimates and statistics that you read.  AA has published their own attrition rate and it is such that nearly 90 percent leave AA within a year of attending their first meeting and never return to AA again.  Ever.  So we could call that a success if we want to, and we could say “don’t fix it because it is not broke,” but those are some powerful numbers you are arguing with.  Keep in mind that the most damaging data of the attrition rate is data direct from AA themselves!

    So what is the alternative?  What would we like to see happen, such that we can help more alcoholics and addicts to recover?

    The 12 step program is based on achieving a spiritual experience.  The solution is to find God.  This is the heart of the program and the purpose of the 12 steps.

    The real solution for addiction may include finding God (for some), but it is actually much larger than that.  That the solution can only be spiritual is way too narrow of an approach.

    In fact, the solution to overcoming addiction is holistic.  This includes spirituality but goes far beyond it as well.

    Think about it for a moment: drug addiction and alcoholism are complex conditions.  They are not just a spiritual malady.  In fact, they are physical diseases of the body.  And, they have a strong psychological component as well.  And, they do tend to disrupt our social lives.  Addiction affects us spiritually, too, this much is true.

    But can you see that addiction is much deeper and more complex than just being a spiritual problem?  And so, any real solution for addiction must address all of these areas of our lives.  The real solution must be holistic in nature, such that we can seek to make growth in all areas of our lives.

    Real recovery from addiction is not only about finding God.  It is more than that.  It is about finding a new way of life, on many different levels.

    Your relationships change.  Your physical fitness level will change.  You will eat healthier.  You will become more mentally stable.  Your socializing will change.  And so on.

    If you neglect any area of your life, then you run the risk of relapse due to an imbalance.

    Recovery is about balance.  In fact, spiritual fanaticism is not a good thing in recovery.  It actually trips some people up.  They put the pursuit of God about their own sobriety, their own recovery.

    Always put your sobriety first.  So simple, yet many replace this idea with spiritual or religious fanaticism.

    It is easier than that.

    Seek an holistic path.


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