Treatment for Addiction
It bears repeating: addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease. Other chronic, relapsing diseases include cancer, heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, hypertension, arthritis, COPD, multiple sclerosis, and Crohn’s disease – to name just a few.
The days of treating people struggling with an alcohol and/or substance use disorder as if their disease is the result of poor decisions, a character flaw, or a simple lack of willpower are behind us.
We don’t punish, insult, or degrade people with cancer, heart disease, or diabetes. We treat them with the latest medications and evidence-based techniques.
When they make positive progress, we share their joy. When their disease returns, we don’t blame them: we look at their treatment, lifestyle, and any other contributing factors to find out why the disease returned. Then we adjust the treatment, support them to the best of our abilities, and help them find hope for a healthy future.
The same should be true for people working to overcome addiction: we should treat them, support them, work to understand them, and do everything we can to help them.
If one treatment approach is unsuccessful, we should try another. If they relapse – which is analogous to a chronic disease coming out of remission – our job should be to find out why. Then we should do everything we can to help them return to a state of health. The same way we do with people with other chronic, relapsing diseases or conditions.