On the road to recovery

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 6, 2002

This is the ninth story in a 13-week series that focuses on drug addiction in Butler County. This is also the third of three stories that will focus on substance abuse treatment.

Cravings, depression and guilt make up the harness that keeps an addict in the downward spiral of drug addiction. In almost all cases these symptoms are generated after a long term of substance abuse.

So, then what is the best approach to tearing down these barriers to successful recovery? Remember cravings are the first barrier to recovery. These are caused by drug or alcohol residues that store primarily in body fat in the form of metabolites. And as mentioned in an earlier article, metabolites are the byproduct of the body trying to digest and breakdown the toxin once ingested into the system.

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These metabolites are connected to memories the addict has of the time and experience associated with ingestion of the chemical. They will activate at times when the addict's metabolism increases. Once the metabolite activates, an uncontrollable urge to use more drugs overcomes the addict. The active metabolite triggers or reminds the addict at a physical and mental level of drug use.

There are a number of methods that are being used today to address the fat storage aspect of drugs. Some include intravenous ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) treatments another is fasting. More and more we are seeing the emphasis being shifted to holistic treatments as a significant component of substance abuse treatment planning. One of the most effective means of ridding the body of drug metabolites has proven to be the use of aerobic exercise combined with a nutritional program that utilizes Vitamin B3 (niacin) and extended periods of sweating in a dry sauna. This detoxification method was researched and developed by L. Ron Hubbard in 1978 and has helped increase the rate of recovery by eliminating the physical triggers that create drug cravings. It is this process called The New Life Detoxification Program that is utilized at the Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation program.

Depression is another one of the barriers to recovery The depression an addict experiences is two fold. There is a chemical imbalance that drug and alcohol abuse creates in the body. Drug and alcohol abuse inhibits the production of natural body chemicals and in some cases replaces them. This impacts the natural reward system that encourages our physical well being or eliminates pain after an injury. This bio-physical aspect of the chemical imbalance present in drug abusers is driven by nutritional deficiencies that occur when someone uses drugs or alcohol on a regular basis. In most cases the emotional depression that an addict experiences follows after a person comes off drugs or alcohol not before. This is because of the declining quality of life an addict experiences and a decayed state of health. In most cases an addict has alienated himself from family members and loved ones. There is often criminal behavior that comes about from the need for money to purchase drugs. Depending on the degree and type of drug abuse an addict frequently finds himself in trouble with the law. Addicts don't want these situations to occur but cannot control the circumstances in their lives. As broken relationships or legal problems develop, the addict feels down or bad about these situations and will display characteristics of depression or lethargy.

Remember that all addicts are basically good people before the addiction begins. They start encountering problems brought on by their addiction. Then they get involved in the arduous task of trying to hide or cover up the deeds that led to these problems. At this point they begin to feel guilty. This guilt then causes the addict to withdraw from family, loved ones and friends or they will become antagonistic towards those close to them who do not abuse drugs or alcohol. This anti-social behavior is a direct result of his or her wrong doings and dishonest life style.

In order to remove these barriers to successfully recovery, addicts must experience a positive change in moral values. They must get honest-which is probably the toughest part of recovery. As a general rule people do not enjoy admitting their wrongs. This process is particularly difficult for the person who is addicted.

However, the age old basic premise of effective counseling still holds true – "confession is good for the soul." This is certainly true in remedying drug or alcohol addiction. If an addicted person can confess honestly their sins and can make up the damage that was done by committing those sins, he will experience tremendous relief. They will not feel guilty any longer and will be able to better calculate how to improve their quality of life.