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Last Updated: Saturday, 6 July 2024
  • What You'll Learn

In all my years in the field of addiction, I have observed that the methods of rehabilitation have derailed from the core meaning of what rehabilitation is. We now have methods that are so off from the primary purpose of rehabilitation. Things like using psychedelic drugs to try to trigger different parts of the brain to make people stop smoking or using drugs.

The shift of methods in the rehab business started about 15 years ago. Now, there are so many different ways to treat substance use that we can hardly count them as there are so many. The efficiency of something in any field is judged by results, not PR or hearsay. The amount of deaths related to drugs has reached unprecedented numbers over the last decade. Can we say that these “modern” methods of rehabilitation work?

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Let’s Get Back to Basics

So, I started to look at what rehabilitation means. I was shocked. Everyone had a different definition, from dictionaries to government websites and educational websites. Let’s get back to the roots of the real meaning of rehabilitation. I found this definition from the RX List website, which fits the best. “The process of helping a person who has suffered an illness or injury restore lost skills and so regain maximum self-sufficiency.” And “To restore to good health or useful life, as through therapy and education”. American Heritage Dictionary fourth edition.

Why People Get Addicted

When choosing a drug rehab treatment, it’s essential to ensure that it will restore the individual’s ability to function well in life without relying on substitutes. Addiction often stems from a desire to alleviate physical or emotional pain. For example, a shy person might drink beer to feel more comfortable socializing. Over time, they may come to rely on alcohol to communicate, leading to addiction. Instead of teaching the person to “live with their problem,” effective rehab should help them improve their communication skills and coping mechanisms. Ultimately, drugs and alcohol are often used to manage life’s challenges, and successful treatment addresses these underlying issues.

Over the years, I have encountered hundreds of individuals through my work in rehab and conversations with families and patients. They all share a common thread: each had something in their lives they couldn’t control. This could manifest as overwhelming financial stress, intense pressure at work, difficulty connecting socially, or an inability to recognize toxic influences in their lives—a situation widespread among substance abusers. I can keep going, but one point in common is that something was overwhelming them, and they could not recognize or control it.

Patching the Problem

Today, in some places, “treatment” focuses on merely “patching” a problem. For instance, transitioning someone from heroin to Suboxone or methadone on a maintenance basis may make their life “safer.” Still, it essentially patches the addiction, allowing them to use drugs more safely rather than addressing the root cause. This approach can make it safe for someone to continue using a dangerous drug. If you look up the side effects of medications used in Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), you’ll find that they numb the person physically and emotionally. People initially take drugs to numb emotional or physical pain. I’ve seen individuals on methadone for years, and they usually remain emotionally numb. I am not against MAT. What I’m against is labeling it as addiction treatment. Initially, the purpose of Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT) was good, aiming to manage withdrawal and cravings. However, if the person doesn’t eventually become drug-free and receive proper counseling, they aren’t genuinely rehabilitated by the definition of rehabilitation.

Are The Current Drug Rehab Strategies Truly Effective?

The number of overdoses and people addicted to drugs has reached an all-time high and continues to rise, with some areas facing situations that are entirely out of control. Approaches like legalizing certain drugs or providing free heroin are a fact. However, from an outside perspective, this doesn’t seem logical. How can you help someone by providing them with more drugs?

If a sudden disease occurs and we find a medication that controls it, reducing the number of cases and making it less dangerous, we consider it a suitable treatment. However, some unusual solutions are being tried in the rehab industry and government, yet the statistics indicate a worsening situation. Can we call these good programs?

For me, when we look at a successful treatment and recovery. I am talking about getting your life back. I am talking about not having to carry this burden all your life but just being able to live. With proper treatment, you can return to where you were before the addiction without having to fight against it constantly. It just requires the right approach.

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Marcel Gemme has been helping people struggling with addiction for over 19 years. He first started as an intake counselor for a drug rehabilitation center in 2000. During his 5 years as an intake counselor, he helped many addicts get the treatment they needed. He also dealt with the families and friends of those people; he saw first-hand how much strain addiction puts on a family and how it can tear relationships apart. With drug and alcohol problems constantly on the rise in the United States and Canada, he decided to use the Internet as a way to educate and help many more people in both those countries. This was 15 years ago. Since then, Marcel has built two of the largest websites in the U.S. and Canada which reach and help millions of people each year. He is an author and a leader in the field of drug and alcohol addiction. His main focus is threefold: education, prevention and rehabilitation. To this day, he still strives to be at the forefront of technology in order to help more and more people. He is a Licensed Drug and Alcohol Treatment Specialist graduate with Honours of Stratford Career Institute. Marcel has also received a certificate from Harvard for completing a course entitled The Opioid Crisis in America and a certificate from The University of Adelaide for completing a course entitled AddictionX: Managing Addiction: A Framework for Succesful Treatment.