Despite biases still on offer by various organizations, a great deal of enlightened and enlightening work is going on around the country and we should be paying attention because it offers hope for a better future in both addiction treatment and drug policy.
Part of the enlightened view was expressed by Dr. Christina Lasich, medical director of Community Recovery Resources (CoRR) in California, who recently said: “Many people won’t admit to having a problem because they are full of shame. We need to educate people. Those struggling with addiction need to be treated with love and acceptance, no matter what they are going through.”
That may not sound to many like a scientific statement, but it is. Researchers have clearly shown the nexus between drug use/addiction and the person’s feeling of alienation from society, isolation, the need for respect and, if not love, at least acceptance and the sense that others care.
Research professionals such as Dr. Carl Hart of Columbia, well known psychologist Gene Heyman, the eminent psychiatrist and author Dr. Sally Satel, New York Times health writer and author Anne Fletcher, and the praiseworthy author Stanton Peele (PhD., J.D.) are making it known to America that addiction to drugs is not a lifelong disease as to which its victim is helpless without reliance on a higher power or intensive treatment. Experiments at the Johns Hopkins Bayview clinic are showing how “alternative reinforcers” a fancy name for rewards that incentivize healthier options are what really enable addicts to take charge of their own minds and bodies. Dr. Hart shows this in his experiments as well and Dr. Satel explains it scientifically too, as does Dr. Peele.
By a large majority drug addicts recover on their own, without treatment, and usually by their late 30s. Wouldn’t it be great if we could reach those people early and teach them what they need to know – that is, that a) they are not helpless, b) they don’t need expensive treatment, c) that for some, 12 Step helps, but that they should not be discouraged by the myth that addiction is a lifetime disease, and d) recovery proceeds faster if the person can learn to avoid cues that trigger wanting and to maintain a strong focus on the benefits of a future without drugs.
This drug education would be a natural feature of TCC, the reform solution I propose involving, not legalization, but adult use toleration accompanied by counseling and control measures designed to keep drugs away from kids.
© All rights reserved to Dave Finch June 15, 2015
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