Treatment of Addiction

It is still amazing to me that if addiction is such a biological illness that there are no medications that can help reduce the symptoms of withdrawal. There is no way to eliminate withdrawal and for a lot of addicts trying to quit it’s the hardest part. Treatment of addiction is something we never discussed in class mostly because it is not very neurobiologically based. We discussed treatment for schizophrenia and depression so thoroughly and there is just not as much treatment for addiction.

The research I did on AA was very interesting. I had no idea AA was such a spiritual process. I’m also surprised that this works for many alcoholics because I would never guess (stereotyping here) that alcoholics are religious or spiritual. AA felt cult-like to me. Not that I’m judging AA or alcoholics but it is such a socially based following of people working towards a common goal. The definition of a cult is, “followers of an exclusive system of religious beliefs and practices.” I feel that this describes the goals of AA. Also, AA is very strict and inflexible. AA is less gradual and holds lofty goals for alcoholics. This commitment might be daunting and intimidating to alcoholics searching for  a cure. Finally, AA puts heavy influence on the social systems and buddy system. I’m sure this works well for many alcoholics some are more individualistic. I’m sure some respond negatively towards working with a sponsor.

Other therapy such as behavioral therapy is also interesting. I feel that this is a more general and accessible treatment for some who are alcoholics. This is also applicable to other addictions such as gambling, overeating, and sex addictions. In this therapy you are still able to work with a mentor but in a different relationship. For those who are unwilling to share their addiction hardships with others I believe behavior therapy is a healthy alternative to AA.

Finally, I wanted to mention hypnosis. Although I don’t know much about it I know people who swear by it. How do you think this is explainable by science? Is hypnosis a cure or a placebo?

Here is a link to information on hypnosis and both substance and nonsubstance addictions:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/588551/hypnosis_triumphs_over_addiction_of.html

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3 thoughts on “Treatment of Addiction

  1. Jessie–I was also surprised to hear how spiritual AA was. Although looking at it from an outsiders point of view by putting your faith in an external locus of control maybe the participants are able to have more faith to get better. Just like how Schizophrenics in Zanzibar did better with external locus of control.

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  2. Cool link Hannah! And Jessie, I agree that AA seems so strict with no room for error… but I think that’s largely due to the extremely high vulnerability for relapse. Thinking back to the Stewart relapse article, alcohol itself, contexts associated with alcohol, and even stress can prompt relapse, so I guess it’s really important for alcoholics to steer clear of as much of that as they can.

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  3. I heard a statistic that 1 in 10 alcholics will successfully recover from their addiction, but the rest fall back into the vicious cycle. I think that AA is so successful because, like hannah h. mentioned, it doesn’t leave room for error and because of the spiritual component. The members of AA that i know were not at all spiritual people before they entered, and aren’t necessarily very spiritual now, but understand that in order to overcome their addictions they cannot put faith in themselves and their own bodies, but in a higher power.

    I think the serenity prayer lucidly exemplifies the goals that AA tries to instill in its members:
    God grant me the serenity
    to accept the things I cannot change;
    courage to change the things I can;
    and wisdom to know the difference.

    So, even if you do not believe in God (or higher powers for that matter), the idea that you are not just an addict, but a human being that makes mistakes is still useful.

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