Patients Need More Than Maintenance Therapy
Vancouver mental health experts agree: we need more than maintenance therapy to make a sustainable difference in our drug rehab patients.
Before we make an argument for the undeniable need for more innovation and individual focus in the realm of successful drug rehab outcomes, let’s take a look at three of the most controversial substance abuse treatments and why they raise more than just a few eyebrows in the medical and scientific communities:
❖ Maintenance treatment: How is this for irony? For years, opioids have been used to treat drug addiction by simply maintaining the drugs in the addict’s system to increase functionality and portray a sense of tangible normalcy in the patient. The initial application of the opioid drugs (known as suboxone and methadone) is administered to curb hellish withdrawal symptoms, curtail cravings and ease the addict off substances. While suboxone has been touted as an effective cure for substance abuse, it is nevertheless addictive in its own right – and many patients who rely on it long-term to fight relapse and a return to the junkie lifestyle are unable to wean themselves from it. This means that the best intentions still rear their insidious heads when the patient realizes they are still not truly drug-free.
❖ Hallucinogens: LSD and Ibogaine have transformative side effects which have been known to help alcoholics recover from their addictions. The trance state fostered by hallucinogens gives addicts insight into their struggles while inspiring within them a newfound sense of motivation to attain a clean lifestyle. Many patients have recounted a calming effect which helps overcome negativity, trepidation and doubt. The ugly side? Hallucinogens, like opioids, are still addictive drugs with horrifying side effects that can poison a patient’s recovery experience. “Bad trips” produce panic, anxiety, flashbacks, traumatic memories and irreversible psychosis.
❖ Deep Brain Stimulation: Remember the infamous lobotomy procedure which left some patients in a vegetative state? If anything, this controversial psychosurgery should have proved sometimes the brain, and all its complexities, should simply be left untouched by foreign objects. While deep brain stimulation is not similar in any way to a lobotomy, it can be construed as a form of modern-day psychosurgery whose lasting effects are still uncertain. What has been proven are its negative consequences: brain hemorrhage, infection, depression and hallucinations.
As a society, we have relied on these treatments like a crutch to simply mask the burgeoning rash of addiction in this country. Now, more than ever, teenagers and young adults are masking their anxieties and insecurities with the temporary comfort of substance abuse. Our culture places unnecessary demands on our children to excel at everything flawlessly, to eschew debt and achieve success. Our atrophied economy does not create a stable future for our next generations – it certainly does not make the path simple. Difficult paths and undue stress breed a propensity to use. We need to do better by the future of our society.
We have lots of band-aids which to apply to the festering cut of addiction. We now need to explore the sociological, socioeconomical and psychological roots of addiction.
This means more awareness. More educational programs and ongoing certification and career development to offer our industry professionals.
Oregon has contributed more money toward the treatment of mental illness in the state. It is our hope the state will continue to recognize the importance of funding our facilities and programs with the capital they need to reach a surging population battling the demons of addiction, mental illness and relapse.