‘Drugs’ to Treat ‘Drug’ Addiction?
“The photo was so startling that it almost seemed staged. In the driver’s seat, the man’s head is dropped back, his eyes closed, mouth agape, one hand draped on the steering wheel in front of him and the other in his lap. In the passenger seat, a woman is slumped toward him, the straps of her tank top off her shoulders. Both appear to be out cold. In the backseat, a young boy, the woman’s grandson, dressed in a blue T-shirt with a brightly colored dinosaur on it, looks blankly at the camera.”
‘Drugs’ to Treat ‘Drug’ Addiction? I know right! It sounds totally counterintuitive but remember that we’re dealing with an essentially destroyed operating system! It’s quite impossible for a layperson to comprehend, seemingly choosing, to undertake an activity that could, very possibly, lead to death! Catchphrases like ‘just say no’ suggest there are easy answers, but nothing could not be farther from the truth. The real, scientifically recognized fact is, “Once the brain is changed by addiction, that mechanism of choice is damaged,” says Dr. Sarah Wakeman, medical director of the substance-use-disorder initiative at Massachusetts General Hospital. “It’s almost like a stroke in that part of the brain. Someone with addiction can no sooner choose not to be addicted than someone with diabetes can choose not to have diabetes.” Nevertheless, stigma remains, and drug addicts are still labelled by many, professionals included, as self indulgent, uncooperative failures, and the most extensively approved of therapy is still, incongruous to current research, 100% abstention! Members of the recovery community including groups like Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous are themselves guilty of stigmatizing those who are turning to prescribed, controlled, and supervised drug treatment plans while they struggle to stay away from dangerous street drugs.
In our resolve to understand something that is essentially beyond understanding we attempt to apply answers that have worked for some. The reality is that the variety of complications that accompany addiction are far from being black and white. For most addiction is only a symptom of much more significant, extensive, hard to diagnose and treat, disorders and conditions. A thorough medical and psychological assessment needs to be done to explore potential factors like PTSD, depression, ADD, ADHD, FAS, Bipolar disorder, childhood trauma, etcetera. Only then can a course of treatment be considered and determined, and drugs could very well be part of a successful treatment plan.
With the advent of designer drugs society has lost the healthy fear that once accompanied drug use. Many addictions begin with prescribed drugs, for a bad tooth, a sports injury, trouble sleeping, depression, ADD and ADHD. Addiction can sneak up fast on the unwitting and the embarrassment, though unfounded and unfair, that accompanies it adds significantly to our failure to address it before it completely overwhelms us. We are clearly experiencing a social crisis that’s taking a huge toll on our families. In the name of capitalism and a free market society we have inadvertently turned drug manufacturers into drug dealers putting profit before people. “Doctors among 60 charged in crackdown on illegal prescriptions. Those charged include 53 medical professionals tied to about 350,000 prescriptions and 32m pills.”