a person smiles after benefiting from the evolution of addiction treatment

The Evolution of Addiction Treatment

The evolution of addiction treatment programs has been drastic. Decades ago, people struggling with addiction were believed to be morally degenerate, and the process of “treating” their addiction often amounted to little more than torture. Until research showed that addiction was a treatable disease of the brain, many people were also given prison sentences or shut away in asylums because it was assumed they were permanently lacking in moral or mental substance.

Unintentional and Deliberate Detoxification

Some of these methods of “treating” people struggling with addiction, such as imprisonment, unintentionally allowed those struggling to undergo detoxification. Without a proper understanding of physical addiction and withdrawal or any means for easing the pain of detoxification, this process was often tortuous in and of itself. Those who punished people using substances or attempted to treat them assumed that those struggling with addiction deserved to experience this pain due to their moral failings.

As our understanding of substance abuse and physical dependency grew, detoxification became the primary goal of addiction treatment. Alcoholism was officially declared a disease in the 1950s, and by the 1970s, lawmakers were recommending that alcoholics receive treatment rather than criminal prosecution.

However, doctors still had a relatively limited understanding of the biological process of detoxification and had limited ways of easing the pain of withdrawal. Eventually, doctors discovered medications such as methadone and bupropion that could be used to avoid withdrawal symptoms and allow for a relatively painless recovery. Where addiction had once been considered a mental and moral problem, most experts began to regard addiction as a physical affliction. Once patients had completed the detoxification process and were recovering from their physical dependency on a substance, they were considered to be cured of their addiction.

The Changing History of Addiction Treatment

It took time for scientists to recognize addiction as a complicated brain disease involving physical and mental aspects. While detoxification was once believed to be the only treatment necessary, health professionals now understand that detoxification is merely the first step in treating addiction. Addiction involves significant rewiring of brain circuits, and it can take a long time to repair those circuits so that individuals no longer feel compelled to engage in drug-seeking behavior. The reward-fulfillment, inhibition, and memory areas of the brain are some of those that are greatly affected by long-term drug use.

As a result, the most advanced treatments for addiction now available take a comprehensive approach to treating the disease. Inpatient treatment facilities and other treatment programs directly target both the mental and the physical aspects of addiction to give patients the tools to achieve long-term sobriety. With a multidisciplinary treatment approach, patients will receive care for both the physical symptoms of withdrawal and any underlying physical health issues that may have contributed to the addiction or developed due to substance abuse.

Where society once viewed the pain of withdrawal as “just desserts” for an addict, doctors now know that a painful withdrawal process can make patients less likely to achieve long-term success with their recovery. An essential component of a multidisciplinary approach is identifying and treating any underlying mental health conditions patients may have. Many turn to substance abuse or other harmful behaviors to cope with untreated mental disorders, and they are likely to return to those behaviors if these disorders are not identified and addressed.

Long-term addiction can also give rise to mental and social difficulties that were not present before the addiction took hold. Addictions can damage social and work relationships, leading to low self-esteem, depression, or other problems. Helping patients regain the ability to be productive and maintain healthy relationships is also vital in promoting long-term recovery.

In Recovery, Not Recovered

One of the most significant changes in the modern approach to addiction is the understanding that addiction recovery is a life-long process. Addiction is a chronic illness, and people struggling with it need care or support for much, if not all, of their lives to remain abstinent. Even those who have years of sobriety and no longer receive care are potentially susceptible to relapse if they deviate from their course. As a result, addiction specialists prefer to use the term “in recovery” rather than “recovered” to refer to former addicts, no matter how much time has passed since they achieved sobriety.

How Modern Residential Addiction Treatment Works

A residential addiction treatment program will typically last for 30, 60, or 90 days, though some patients may stay for longer periods. During their stay, patients receive around-the-clock care from a multidisciplinary team of addiction specialists. This team may include doctors, nurses, therapists, counselors, and other professionals dedicated to helping patients overcome their addictions.

Patients in residential treatment will participate in various therapies and activities to help them overcome their addiction. These may include individual and group therapy, 12-step meetings, meditation, yoga, and other holistic therapies. Patients will also be able to participate in recreational activities and outings as part of their treatment.

After completing a residential treatment program, patients will typically transition to an outpatient program to continue their recovery. Outpatient programs typically meet for a few hours each week and provide patients with the opportunity to continue working or attending school while receiving treatment. Patients in outpatient programs will also have regular check-ins with their treatment team to ensure they stay on track with their recovery.

The goal of modern addiction treatment is to help patients achieve long-term sobriety by addressing the physical, mental, and social aspects of their addiction. With a multidisciplinary approach, patients can receive the care they need to overcome their addiction and live healthy, happy lives.

Complete the Stages of Addiction Treatment at Recovery Ranch TN

The evolution of addiction treatment has provided relief to countless people struggling with substances. Today, treatment programs are available to those who need them. Get started in a program at Recovery Ranch TN today by calling 1.844.876.7680.

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