The search for drug treatment centers in Kapaau, HI usually begins with determination. The reason for this is simple. Most people consider addiction a life-threatening illness. It has no respect for age and in fact frequently afflicts the young and cuts their lives short by decades. While in the past most people have viewed addiction as criminal behavior that suggests a moral failing, most medical experts now agree on a model of addiction as a disease that follows the same course as any other biological, neurological, genetic, and environmental source.
Addiction as Disease
Understanding the disease view of addiction is difficult for a number of reasons. Most people focus only on the “choice” part of addiction, even though people don’t truly understand what addiction means until they’re already addicted. Someone who takes a drug doesn’t begin as an addict or understand the power of the drug they are taking. They view it as a single choice on a single day that can be taken or left at a later date. Unfortunately, powerful drugs like heroin and crack quickly change brain chemistry and produce physical changes in the brain that leave very little choice once an addict has been exposed to them. What started out as a single recreational use may quickly become a terrifying dependence.
Brain Chemistry Changes
A normal person’s brain produces just the right amount of chemicals for normal functioning. Exposure to drugs like heroin and crack quickly change the brain chemistry so that the brain thinks it needs these drugs to live. When the addict is deprived of the drug, they may become violently ill or psychotic, which sends them off to do what a normal person would do when they feel this way. They take the very drug that caused the reaction in the first place, knowing that it’s the only way to feel normal again. Addicts are unlike their fellow human beings in that they need a drug to feel normal once they’re addicted. From this point, the disease quickly takes over.
Addicts behave in ways that are difficult for non-addicted people to comprehend. Addicts might steal to get money for drugs, behave erradically or violently, and bankrupt themselves and their loved ones in a very short period of time. What people view as a moral failing is actually the addict struggling to acquire their drug so that they can function normally and avoid the sickness that comes with having a disease. They need their medicine, even if to us their medicine is illegal and inexplicably demoralizing. By the time addiction gets bad enough, an addict isn’t strong enough to simply quit cold turkey which can have dangerous health consequences in and of itself. They are at a turning point and need medical intervention to tackle their disease. Treatment for drug addiction can be just like that for any other disease. They made need certain medications to normalize themselves, strong rest to recover from the health consequences of daily drug use, and of course, loving and caring attention from professionals who understand the disease model of drug addiction.
The Long Road Home
Treatment for drug addiction, in its current form, is in relative infancy. The medical community understands drug addiction now more than it ever has before yet still struggles to get addicts to comply with treatment. Relapses are frequent in the addiction community and each new case is heartbreaking. Someone escapes from hell only to go straight back to it. That’s why these days there are so many long-term residential treatment programs designed to completely rewire an addicts lifestyle and line of thinking in approach to real world problems. A quick medical detox just isn’t enough to bring about the sustained change required for addicts to remain sober for a long stretch of time. Add in the complication of co-existing disorders and there is a very real problem in some treatment approaches. For the most serious cases, medical detox, inpatient residential programs, and intense outpatient care are often the best way to tackle a serious disease head on and for the most positive outcomes.
There is a tremendous amount of hope to be found in the disease model of addiction. It allows medical professionals to see addicts as sick people who need compassionate care, and this compassionate care often gives addicts the strength and hope they need to overcome their addiction for a lifetime. It takes a lot of work but it’s one of the most promising models of addiction in existence today.