Addiction treatments have evolved dramatically over the past few decades, and it is indeed something to be grateful for. In the past, addiction was widely regarded as a moral flaw. This saw to addicts being sent to prisons or asylums where they were treated inhumanely. Society saw addicts as people who chose that route because they were weak on the inside.

Today, however, we understand that addiction is a brain disorder that is characterized by long-term changes to the brain. Thus, treatment today is based on scientific research. It is tailored for the individual that combines drug and behavioral therapy. This article will discuss how the various elements of addiction treatment have improved over the years.

Improved Detoxification Methods

The changes we have made regarding how we approach detoxification is one of the significant reasons why treatment is so successful today. Detoxification involves eliminating the addiction-inducing toxins from the body. In the past, this was achieved by suddenly cutting off the drug use. Sudden stoppage causes painful withdrawal symptoms, that can even result in death. This suffering was considered to be a ‘necessary’ part of the treatment so that the addict knew the consequences of their actions. This kind of detoxification decreased the addict’s chances of recovery.

Today, even though we still maintain that detoxification is necessary towards recovery, we also acknowledge that there is no need for the patient to suffer. To avoid the withdrawal symptoms, patients are given medication that replicates the effects of the addictive substance, and this dosage is then gradually reduced over time. The purpose of this regimen is to stabilize the patient’s brain long enough to complete the detoxification process and to get them onto the road to the outpatient drug rehab process. For instance, LAAM and methadone are used to help with opiate withdrawal, while bupropion is used to help with nicotine withdrawal.

Moreover, improvements in science have seen to advanced detox methods such as nutritional IV therapy and dry sauna detox. The latter is used to eliminate toxins in the body that might interfere with a healthy recovery. Nutritional IV therapy replaces the lost essential vitamins and nutrients that the body loses during addiction and detoxification.

The Implementation of Therapy

Drug addiction therapy in the past involved treating the addiction itself, instead of the patient. They expected the patient to recover once they were through with the harsh treatment. The addicts were treated as outcasts before, during, and after the treatment. It is no wonder that they were rarely useful.

Today, addiction therapy revolves around taking a holistic approach in the treatment, i.e., the body, mind, and spirit. As such, before therapy starts, the patient is first evaluated for co-occurring disorders such as anxiety or depression. The purpose of this is to find out what led to the addiction. Moreover, the holistic approach allows the addict to heal in a sober and supportive community. Cognitive and behavior therapy enables the addict to positively self-reflect while having the opportunity to rekindle relationships with their loved ones. Additionally, once the treatment is over, the former addict is provided with an aftercare plan to help them reintegrate back into society, which is more effective than just ‘hoping for the best.’

Qualified Personnel

In the past, those who were responsible for rehabilitating drug addicts rarely had any training in the field. And because addiction is not a conventional disease, it was disconnected from the medical community for a long time. Over the past few decades, however, we realized that addiction is an actual brain disorder that needs scientific-based treatment. This has seen to medical personnel being explicitly trained in how to treat addictions with the help of behavioral health technicians such as life coaches and counselors.

Drug addiction treatment has come a long way to get to the level it is at today. And even though relapses still occur, the success of these treatments has increased exponentially.

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Sara T. Loving

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