There is no cure for alcoholism or addictions to opioids, heroin and most other narcotics.
Addiction to these drugs and others like them is like a chronic disease—like diabetes or hypertension.
Those who have developed a drug addiction, if they are to survive and live a normal life, must let go and move on. There is no cure, but then again with abstinence, there is no disease.
Over the years, millions of people, me included, have restored their lives and families and moved on. It’s been forty years since I had a drink of alcohol.
Hazelden Betty Ford, perhaps the nation’s top treatment facility, confirms, as do other respected facilities, that when it comes to drugs abstinence is the only basis for recovery. I agree.
As we contemplate the advance of drug addiction in our society, it makes sense to visit briefly what the major treatment centers are doing, and that, certainly, includes Hazelden Betty Ford which has multiple facilities.
There are several thousand in-patient treatment facilities in the country, if not more, and they provide treatment away from the temptations of the outside world by doctors and other professionals who specialize in addiction treatment. The downside is that they tend to be expensive—as much as $30,000 a month and even more. There is also the fact that patients are sobering up in a protected environment and will, after 30 days, be released into the real world and its temptations.
A quality rehab program like Hazelden Betty Ford helps patients learn to manage their symptoms, first within the structure and support of a treatment setting and eventually in their home environment where they are in charge of their sobriety with the help of AA and the care of a local doctor.
“Ideally,” Hazelden says, “our treatment involves a team made up of licensed professionals including chemical dependency counselors, mental health staff, wellness specialists and spiritual care counselors. The team works together to map out a care plan unique to the individual patient.
“Most people who struggle with addiction face mental health challenges as well. A quality provider will have licensed psychologists or therapists working in tandem with addiction counselors to address problems with anxiety, depression, trauma, bi-polar disorder and other conditions.
“Quality providers also address emotional and spiritual health concerns related to overcoming shame and guilt. Unresolved shame can be a major roadblock to getting sober and staying sober.
“Educational and support services for families of addicts are also a key because addiction takes a toll on loved ones. Family members have their own healing to do.
“In-network status with insurance companies is another sign of a quality provider. Programs that are in-network with health insurance companies have completed important credentialing requirements.”
“In 1949, at a quiet lakeside retreat in Center City, Minnesota,” Hazelden’s web site begins, “our earliest clinicians developed the addiction treatment approach most widely used in the world today.
“It was called the Minnesota Model. It combined medical care with emerging Twelve Step principles and practices and focused on respect for the individual patient at a time when addiction wasn’t recognized as a disease.
The Ford influence
After a long career in Congress, Gerald R. Ford became Richard Nixon’s running mate on the Republican ticket in the national election of 1972. Ford had a solid resume. He was a graduate of the university of Michigan where he was a football star and graduated from Yale law school. He also served in World War II and rose to the rank of Lieutenant Commander.
The Nixon-Ford team prevailed in the election, but two years later Nixon was forced to resign in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal and Ford was sworn in to replace him as president in 1974.
Ford said he drew great strength from his wife, Betty, who had a strong Christian faith and once led a Congregational Wives prayer group. The Fords were also skiers and had a condo at Vail.
Less well known in those times was that Betty ford was an alcoholic and addicted to prescription drugs.
On April 11, 1978, she entered herself at Long Beach Naval Hospital’s Alcohol and Rehab program. After her initial recovery, she had a growing influence on helping people recover from their addictions.
Regarding her own alcoholism, Betty Ford, who died in 2011 famously said, “my makeup wasn’t smeared. I wasn’t disheveled. I behaved politely and I never finished off a bottle. So how could I be and alcoholic?”
Gerald Ford died at the age of 93 in 2006
Betty died at the age of 93 in July of 2011.
“Today,” Hazeldon tells us on their web site, “our protocols include science-based assessments, medication-assisted treatment and evidence-based practices, delivered with a patient-centered focus and compassion.
“During the course of rehab and based on a number of different indicators, our counselors continually adjust each patient’s care plan to encourage the best outcomes.
Typically, inpatient drug rehab programs begin with medical detox services to get the patient clean and sober.
The treatment team then evaluates the patient’s medical health, mental health and chemical use history. The rehab staff may also talk with family members and other professionals
Because addiction is a disease that affects the body, mind and spirit, the facility notes, we bring a multidisciplinary team together to provide a healing plan. A licensed team may include: physicians, nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed marriage and family therapists, licensed addiction counselors, nutritionists, wellness and fitness specialists, continuing care coordinators, financial advocates and clinical case managers.
A variety of therapies
Medications are primarily used to treat substance use disorders related to opioids and alcohol, helping to ease withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. Use of medication-assisted treatment for opioid dependence with naltrexone and buprenorphine/naloxone is supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and other organization. And medication-assisted therapy is always used in conjunction with the Twelve Steps and other behavioral therapies, with abstinence as the end goal.
The opioid addiction treatment program, Comprehensive Opioid Response with the Twelve Steps (COR-12™) treatment protocol, has been implemented by treatment centers and hospitals around the country.
Other therapies, techniques and practices include:
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
Emphasizes balancing behavioral change, problem-solving and emotional regulation with validation, mindfulness and acceptance.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
(CBT) is a form of treatment that focuses on exploring patterns of thinking that lead to self-destructive actions and identifying the beliefs that direct these thoughts. Through CBT, people can learn to modify their patterns of thinking to improve their coping skills.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
Uses mindfulness and behavioral activation to increase psychological flexibility and the ability to engage in values-based, positive behaviors while experiencing difficult thoughts, emotions or sensations.
Motivational Enhancement and Interviewing
Motivational Enhancement and Interviewing is collaborative and helps patients identify “what’s in it for me,” with regard to staying sober, working through difficult issues, and developing the skills necessary to accomplish our goals
Freedom or bondage—it’s up to us
The late Joe Mcquany, a revered and powerful advocate of Alcoholics Anonymous and a Christian had a couple of things to say about it.
“When we don’t do the daily things we need to do to live and be free, when we don’t face things and deal with them. When we don’t admit our faults, when we sweep things under the rug, we give up our freedom. We are then in bondage and this is manifested by, expressed by, all kinds of problems: alcoholism, drug dependency, codependency and so on.