A holistic approach addiction treatment

The process of rediscovery is a holistic approach addiction treatment. Regardless of the type of addiction the patient has to be treated in a holistic manner in complete recovery is to take place. Addiction affects all aspects of a person’s life; from the emotional to the physical and from the social to the spiritual. That is why it is useless targeting only one aspect of life. For a treatment to be effective and for relapse to be prevented it is necessary that all aspects of the patient’s life be treated and a ‘process of rediscovery’ of the self takes place. Consider patients that are addicted to prescription drugs.

Many drugs taken over a long period of time become addictive and doctors have to carefully wean the patient off the drug so that there is no drug abuse involved. However, patients taking such powerful drugs cannot be weaned off without a combination of treatments. The first step of any addiction is to recognize the problem. Unless the patient accepts and acknowledges that a problem exists there can be no treatment. The mind is a powerful tool. The mind can make people believe that they are more in control than they actually are. Here we will concentrate on a patient of depression addicted to prescription drugs.

The First Step: Recognize the Problem When patients get addicted to prescription drugs it is a problem that begins with the physical but ends with the mental associations. Consider a depressed woman going to her doctor. He refers her to a psychiatrist who starts a combination of drug therapy and counseling. As the counseling continues so do the drugs. After a long period of time the drugs become an addiction. They become a crutch to lean on. When the going gets tough and the patients feel unable to deal with it they start popping the pills. It’s a convenient bail out and one that counseling alone cannot help.

Depression is a mental problem that affects the physical body. Counseling and drugs help but the first step is that the patient has to understand that a problem exists. When addicted to prescription drugs the patient has to get help. There are tens of support groups that are ready to help patients with prescription drug addiction. These groups consist of experts, professionals and previous and current addicts all working to help each other get through the problems of addiction. As a woman suffering from depression and addicted to prescription drugs it’s a hard road to the process of rediscovery.

Depression is a problem that makes the person lethargic, unaware of the passage of time and in a state of imbalance that does not make room for survival. The patient needs the help of the doctors and psychiatrists that the problem exists. She would need to slowly be weaned of the drug and then shown how the drugs and the depression is effecting her life. Support groups would include people going through her experiences and would create an awareness of her situation. This would allow her to gain some confidence, at least for a while. This is the time where the possibility of the process of rediscovery can begin.

Step two: Set a Goal for Improvement Once the patient understands that using drugs to heal her is not the way to change her life, she has to get a mission in life. What does she really want to do with her life? A short and long term goal has to be implemented. If she is depressed her support group can help her gain a goal. She could suggest that she will within a couple of months start a job, start creating a social life for herself or even work pro bono within the support group to create an awareness of depression as a disease and how depression can create prime candidates for drug addiction.

Many of us believe that we can use prescription drugs and not get addicted but one bad phase in life can lead us to become addicts as the drugs become a crutch and each time things get bad, we start using the pills. That is why when trying to ‘rediscover’ ourselves we have to set a goal that is not personal. It has to be more universal. Using drugs impairs us and when depressed a sure way to begin the recovery is to see others in situations worse than us. It gives a reality check that creates an awareness of the fact that we are not alone in our misery.

If addicted to prescription drugs the second step for recovery could be to help out those in trouble, or maybe set out to create campaigns that inform people on prescription drugs the dangers associated with using strong drugs for longer periods of time. This will help others and the patient herself to realize that prescription drugs can be as harmful as using hard core abusive drugs. Step Three: Emergence of Oppression The fact of addiction is that people are not addicted to the pill but rather the feeling it creates.

It is a false sense of security that makes them use the drugs as a crutch. Women in depression need to feel better and using drugs make them feel as if they are doing something for themselves. That is why they pop the pills. Stanton Peele states “When narcotics relieve pain, or when cocaine produces a feeling of exhilaration, or when alcohol or gambling creates a sense of power, or when shopping or eating indicates to people that they are being cared for, it is the feeling to which the person becomes addicted.

No other explanation – about supposed chemical bonding or inbred biological deficiencies – is required. And none of these other theories come close to making sense of the most obvious aspects of addiction. ” (Peele, 1989, p 151) The third step is then the emergence of oppression. The woman has to understand that the drugs her doctor or psychotherapist gave her were addictive in quality. She had assumed that her care giver would cure her depression, he can but only after her interpersonal problems are solved.

She gives her depression up for an addiction simply because she feels that she needs something and cannot change her life on her own. Researchers have stated the addiction can best be approached when the interpersonal problems of the person are solved. They have to stop finding things to lean on and make their own self strong enough to face the reality (Finney and Moos, 1998, p 157). It is easy to bail out by placing the blame on others, but when we are responsible for ourselves the mistakes we make must be ourselves as well. Fourth Step: Research and Resolution

The definition of recovery is, “(It is) the ongoing process of overcoming physical and psychological dependence on mind altering substances (including alcohol) and learning to live in a state of total abstinence, without the need or desire or those substances. In recovery, one’s physical and mental states are modified so that chemical substances are unnecessary for happiness and fulfillment. ” [Mooney et al , 1992] Addiction has been described as a state of losing control and one in which the free will is lost. Once this stage is reached the patient is unable to be motivated to improve.

Self-esteem is at a low and concept of the self and purpose in life is lost. When that person is depressed and addicted to prescription drugs the position of the addiction is made worse. That is why recovery and simple weaning of the prescription drugs is not possible. The patient has to be first made aware of the problem, overcome the denial of the problem, find a goal that motivates her to action to find meaning in life that helps her rediscover herself as an entity apart from her problems, and then force her to stop blaming others for her problems.

The doctors simply gave her pills for relief of the brain so that she could be open to therapy and counseling she was responsible for believing they were a miracle cure. Once she realizes that her problems will not go away with the pill she has to be motivated to improve and with support kept that way. Conclusion Addiction of any kind is hard on the patient and it requires a strong self will and motivational factor to get out of the vicious cycle of abuse [White, 2002].

Prescription Pills are the worst form of abuse as its hard to accept that the pills that the doctor freely prescribed are actually harmful. Though used discreetly they are a form of abuse. The process of rediscovery in addiction is hard and long. Interpersonal and self help is the basis of improvement and external factors become mere players in the act as individuals come to understand that they can only depend on themselves, people can help but in the end they have to be strong enough to take responsibility for the self.


1. Finney, J. W. and Moos, R. H. “Psychosocial Treatments for Alcohol Use Disorders” p 156-166, in Nathan, P. E. and Gorman, J. M. A Guide To Treatments That Work, Oxford University Press, New York, 1998 2. Mooney, Al, J. , Eisenberg, A. , Eisenberg, H. The Recovery Book. New York: Workman Publishing Company, Inc. 1992 3. Peele, S. Diseasing of America, Houghton Mifflin, 1989, Boston 4. White, William L. An Addiction Recovery Glossary: The Languages of American Communities of Recovery, 2002.

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