Illicit Drugs and the Stigma of Addiction
Often the general perception is that those who consume illicit drugs lacked willpower and self-control; if they really wanted to quit, the belief was, they would. In earlier times, addicts who consume illicit drugs were often sent to prison, sentenced to asylums, or just simply prayed for. Needless to say, those methods were not effective. Today our understanding of addiction is much better informed.
We know now that drug addicts have a disease
Addiction is a compulsive, chronic, and relapsing disorder of the brain that won’t let them stop taking drugs even though it threatens harmful consequences. Drugs can actually change the physiology of the brain – they change its structure and how it works. Because of these brain changes the result is powerful cravings and a overpowering compulsion to use.
New drug users – daily
Almost all of them,
have substance-abuse disorder
9 out of 10
people addicted to drugs other than nicotine
receive no treatment.
Most of those who do get treatment are put through unproven programs run by
people without medical training.
This is according to a 500-plus-page report released by Columbia University, June 2012.
THE STIGMA OF ADDICTION
Traditionally, addicts to illicit drugs have been shunned by the medical establishment. For those seeking help with their recovery this meant going outside of mainstream medicine. We now have decades of basic laboratory science that has confirmed addiction is a bona fide medical problem.
Even today, law enforcement treats drug addicts as criminals and not as victims of a disease.
Opiates, cocaine, alcohol, and other substances all work by increasing the levels of the chemical dopamine in the brain’s reward pathways. Dopamine helps to regulate movement, emotion, motivation, and feelings of pleasure. Overstimulating the system produces euphoric effects. With repeated use the body’s baseline dopamine levels will wane to compensate and in the process the drug becomes less pleasurable. This has the effect of requiring ever-larger doses for the user to feel the same effect from the drug. Eventually, the user will need to use the drug just to feel normal.
THE BRAIN OF AN ADDICT
Even when people stop using the substance, their brains don’t return to normal. This leaves the recovering addict vulnerable to relapse, suffering mood swings and profound urges to use again.
This also makes the strongest argument for undertaking a professional treatment program: Through BLVD’s high quality drug and alcohol treatment program, addicts are not only physically weaned from their substance of their abuse, they’re given the tools to help them maintain their successful recovery for years to come. This is accomplished through variety of methods with a strong emphasis on therapy, education, and mindfulness training including Mindfulness-based Relapse Prevention (MBRP).
WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?
Put simply, mindfulness is the ability for the mind to observe without criticism or judgment.
When practicing mindfulness, the individual is deliberately focusing their attention on the present moment. Worries about the future and regrets about the past are put aside. Whenever thoughts wander off to those places, the individual gently brings himself back to the present. Being mindful also means being conscious and present in your body. Overall, being free from the past and future can be very liberating. When you look at the world this way, you keep the mind’s power from being drained off with distracting stresses and concerns. Energy is focused on the situation at hand and the mind becomes more focused and potent.
Mindfulness-based programs have been proven to have higher success rates than 12 Step programs.
Mindfulness is a 2,500 year old practice that comes out of the tradition of Buddhism. It is a universal practice that can fit with any spiritual or religious orientation. Mindfulness has been described as “paying extraordinary attention to ordinary experiences.” Paying attention to our experiences is easy to do when they are pleasant, but not so much when they’re painful. Avoiding these painful experiences can often consume much needed energy and attention.
Mindfulness allows us to pause before reacting in ways that might be destructive or hurtful, or interrupt times when we’re already stuck in a downward spiral. This is how mindfulness can be so vital: Research has shown that it can increase attention, lower stress, improve physical health and immune functioning, and provide relief from certain kinds of psychological difficulties. It also allows practitioners to be more present for the joyful and happier moments of life as well. Buddha said that the source of suffering is when we attempt to escape from our direct experience. In essence, by gathering and training your attention to the present moment, mindfulness makes direct experience more user-friendly.
https://www.blvdcenters.org/drug-rehab Retrieved March 2, 2016