Drug addiction, or substance abuse, is an extremely hot topic across the Nation. Historically, this has been targeted by law enforcement, focusing on the criminal supply and underground abuse. It was described by the phrase “War on Drugs” some 60 years ago. It, the “War”, has obviously not worked and is considered by many to be a complete failure. Drug and substance abuse is at an all time high with, what appears to be, no hope of ever being brought under control. It has been argued by some very impressive National figures and thinkers over the years that, without legalizing drugs, the so called “War” is going to end badly for the U.S. The inherent logic that keeping drugs illegal results in vast amounts of money being spent isn’t enough to convince those in power to change their minds, but one would think that the obvious and prolonged failure of the current tactics would at least be taken into consideration. This does not appear to be the case. As this is not meant to be a political paper no further thoughts will be discussed on that issue. I am resigned to the fact that we’re going to keep approaching the issue in the exact same, ineffective way for a very, very long time. Great, so be it.
In the mean time the people in charge of the “War” have determined that they have another card to play in their never ending campaign to not legalize drugs (and instead provide counseling and other resources). They are now aggressively targeting doctors who prescribe controlled substances, such as Oxycontin and Vicodin, as well as pharmaceutical companies that manufacture them. Medical Licensing Boards are getting involved in bringing charges against physicians, even when the amounts prescribed are quite low. I gather they believe the vast majority of illicit drug use, in the United States these days, is not from underground cartels and mule chains but perpetrated by licensed physicians?
Since it appears the approach to eliminating illicit drugs has become politically dysfunctional and ineffective then we must continue to work on ways to treat the results of illicit drug use. As long as the forces in power cannot comprehend the complexities of the problem, or otherwise choose to avoid it, then we’re going to need a lot more forms of treatment. It’s either stop the drugs or treat the epidemic, and they’re no where near stopping them.
I am not a specialist in treating drug addiction but sometimes that can be an advantage since I’m not fenced in by the established guidelines. My focus is not on hardcore users and addicts but rather on the occasional recreational user who has slowly fallen into an addiction. In many cases, they may not even be aware they have a problem. I argue, that such individuals, have a real, identifiable, and possibly treatable, issue they’re trying to cope with. Disagreement with society, greed, vast income inequality or asymmetry, combined with a very challenging and ever changing job market has created a myriad of health-related problems for Generation X. Society has become hyper mobile and is in the middle of adapting to new skills in order to cope with sudden and sever Globalization.
One of the more common forms of Treatment and Rehabilitation now trending are Sober Living Homes. In these facilities can be a home or apartment building, and is set up similar to a College dormitory staffed with a counselor and a medical director. Each patient gets their own room, but there are common areas for socializing and activities, exercise, and so forth. An environment is created where there is a fair division between alone time and mingling.
These are a step in the right direction. The idea behind these Homes is to provide a warm, clean and healthy environment for rehabilitation. The are rules with respect to coming and going, including a curfew. Screening for substances is strictly enforced. Surprisingly enough, the simple approach of providing people some monitoring and company, a clean bed, decent food and limited physical activities, goes a long way in helping recover from drug dependance. Extreme detox has its place but can leave the patient stranded at the end. True and complete treatment, from substance dependance, requires a sustained effort. It is necessary to create an environment where the patient is getting the life care that they need and lacks the elements which caused the drug activity in the first place. Feelings of loneliness, fear of life and where it’s going, are big culprits in leading people towards substance abuse. It makes sense that effective treatment should involve the other side of those feelings.
A well operated Sober Living Facility can provide these benefits in an environment which gently forces the patient to come to terms with their problem, and overcome it, while being supported in the basic needs of life.