By David Joel Miller.
Addiction is a mental illness.
As difficult as it is to withdraw from some drugs you would think that the primary thrust of addiction treatment would be detoxification facilities. When it comes to curing addiction, Detox programs are an almost universal failure. The majority of people who undergo detox, somewhere near 90% relapse in the first year after detox treatment.
We have been taught to think of addiction as a terrible physical craving, a drug sickness of the body when the user tries to stop. The physical part is the smallest part of addiction.
After 72 hours of detox, the standard treatment in many places, the addict should be past the cravings. Most drugs pass out of the body in hours, days at the most. How then do we explain the high rate of relapse among addicted people?
Some of the hardest to kick drugs have little or no physical withdrawal symptoms. We should expect that the highest rates of relapse would occur in the first few days after cessation. Despite the widely held opinion that addiction is a physical dependence on drugs, recovering people continue to relapse mouths, years, even decades after treatment. The inescapable conclusion?
Addiction is in the mind not the body!
Many efforts to treat addiction fail because they look in the wrong place, in the body. We see programs that include lots of diet and exercise, health farms and sanitariums they used to be called. They had only limited success.
One way to describe addiction is that the addict’s brain has “gone over to the other team.” The alcoholic develops an alcoholic mind. Efforts to treat that condition with detoxification or drug replacement do not result in the “head change” that is needed to recover.
The psychological cravings persist for a long time after the physical urges have dissipated.
The core problem of addiction is the minds determination to obsess over getting a substance, any substance, to change the way we feel.
Once the mind convinces the addict to try a little, just a little, of their drug of choice, the body produces the cravings that continue the use.
Long term recovery requires stopping those thoughts that an addict can ever safely use even a little of a drug and replacing those using thoughts with positive thoughts.
Recovery from addiction is a long-term process of changing your thinking to change your life.
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books