Alcoholism and drug addiction are different than most other diseases because the factors that contribute to their onset are biological and social. There is no real way, as of yet, to employee successful preventative measures in order to keep someone from being afflicted with the disease and there is still much that we do not understand about it.
For instance we still do not know how one sibling can suffer from addiction while their brothers and sisters do not. We do not know how this comes about, considering they have the same parents and same upbringing. We do not know how a child can suffer from addiction while no one else in their family is afflicted and we do not know what the exact mechanisms of the mind are that lead to addiction. For as far as we have come, there still much about this disease that is a mystery, but one thing that has become increasingly apparent over the past few years is that we need to take a customizable approach to the way that we treat the disease of addiction within the treatment industry.
Addiction is a complex illness, and this is in part why it baffles so many people. Many times it is not just a matter of the person having substance abuse problems but there are usually a number of social issues and psychological issues that come along with the addiction. The person may suffer from depression or social anxiety, they may have severe childhood trauma or other health issues, and the list goes on ad infinitum, so taking this into considering it only stands to reason that in order to treat the addicted person, in the manner they need to be treated, the treatment protocol needs to customized to suit their needs.
Some people who come into treatment are emotionally disturbed or socially maladjusted. This is not passing judgment, but rather is the truth and these emotional and social handicaps that they have can either be caused by their addiction, or were present before the addiction and helped to foster its growth. How these things express themselves in the individual can differ greatly but the usual result is that they act out in dangerous ways that are counterintuitive to their wellbeing. In order to help them learn to live a happy and useful life, one that does not involve them drinking or using drugs to the point of their own destructions, these underlying problems must be addressed.
Look at my own case for instance. When I entered into treatment, I had a pretty bad eating disorder, I had been sexually abused as a child, and I was just getting out of an abusive marriage. What I needed in order to recover from my addictions, in regards to therapy and healing, was very different then a 22 year old man who was abusing heroin and homeless. Our social and emotional needs and what we had to process in order to heal differed greatly and because of this what our treatment looked like needed to be different as well. Granted in the end the goal is the same, the healing of wounds and learning to love ourselves, but the path we needed to traverse to get there could not have been further apart.
That is the reason why customized treatment is so important as we move forward in our approach toward treating alcoholism and addiction. The one size fit all approach of the past just does not do justice to the severity of this illness and how greatly it affects the people who have it. Addiction is not simply the inability to not use drugs, it is an all-encompassing parasite that sucks the life out of a person and renders them socially and emotionally void, and its resilience is astonishing. It is not an illness that only attacks certain sectors of the population, but anyone is susceptible.
Since people are so varied by nature, what they will need in order to recover should vary as well. Sitting in the same groups day in and day out and learning about relapse prevention and how drugs affect the brain is great and all, but it does not get down to the root of the problem, and it doesn’t allow people to see how truly personal their disease is. How their perception of life has been skewed by their own experiences and how their constant abuse of substances has wrecked havoc on their life.
Not to mention having a customizable approach to treatment is just more effective. It allows a person to begin to deal with their own personal demons and it allows them to work with a therapist on the things that really matter to them. Think of it this way, if you went to see an oncologist because you had lung cancer and they only wanted to talk about colon cancer you would be appalled. You would probably report them to some governing agency and look for a new doctor because you would wonder why they were not helping you with your lung cancer. When we don’t offer a personalized treatment approach in the substance abuse field, we are essentially doing this. We are essentially saying, ‘We know you have these issues that are specific to you, but we are not going to deal with them. Now here’s a packet on emotions, fill it out.’
Luckily, there are a number of people in the treatment industry doing amazing work and really pushing to have a more hands on and customizable approach to treatment. They understand that each addict and alcoholic must be treated as the individual they are and in doing so they offer their clients a better possibility for recovery. Working with addicts and alcoholics is never easy, as we tend to be a people who shut ourselves off, lie, skirt the real issues, and manipulate, but by offering a level of commitment and personal touch to the treatment process, we should be able to break down some those walls and allow for true healing to occur.
Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.