According to a recent study published in Psychology Today, Americans are more likely to die from a drug overdose than in a car crash. Think about that…To me, this is not only incredibly sad, but also very telling. Again, think this through. Despite our best efforts with prevention programs, treatment programs, and a general increase in scientific knowledge and an overall increase in the understanding of addiction, it is obviously not enough. Overdoses have now reached the epidemic level.
So what do we do? Do we accept this as the status quo and continue what we have been doing hoping things will improve? To me that doesn’t seem right. I think we can and should do more.
About 15 or so years ago, HBO put out entire series on addiction. Their underlying premise, backed by plenty of “white coats” saying ultimately that addiction was a brain disease. While there is a significant amount of truth to that, the treatment community embraced this and ran with it. As a whole, there was an increase in the utilization of 12-step in treatment programs and the disease concept led to more acceptance of the traditional 12-step notion that people were powerless and would be lifelong alcoholics or addicts. Make no mistake, there are a significant number of people that flourish in 12-step. It does work.
But what about today’s addict? What about the people caught in the grips of a deadly addiction who have had several attempts at 12-step and have simply not succeeded? The good news is that there are other ways. There is SMART recovery. There is Refuge Recovery. There are church groups. There are new programs that provide neurotransmitter testing, there is NAD detox. In addition, there is Biofeedback and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. Ultimately, there is a focus on integrating addiction treatment with physical and mental health utilizing both Eastern and Western medicine. Do the research. Google them. They are working and saving countless lives. The treatment community needs to embrace these new treatments. We need to “Step Out” and realize there are other, and even better ways to combat addiction.