Drug addicts and alcoholics have long been thought to have a moral deficiency. Weak-willed individuals that needed to experience a painful withdrawal and detoxification process as a way to strengthen their resolve. In fact, in its early days the idea of drug addiction treatment was more of an idea of punishment than a means of helping an addict to recover.
Drug addiction treatment centers actually started in the United States Penitentiary system. In this system drug addicts were placed in a separate prison away from other inmates in order to undergo a supervised drug detoxification before they rejoined the general population. Private ctizens who were experiencing substance abuse problems and addictions of their own would request to be put into these facilities as a way to stop using drugs or alcohol.
To understand what drug addiction treatment was like in the early part of the 20th century you need look no further than what the public’s perception of addiction was. Addicts and alcoholics were considered to be the lowest of the low and in truth society didn’t know what to do with them. At this time, turning yourself into prison may have seemed like the best option when compared to the other available options of being sent to an asylum or to a church for mandatory continuous prayer.
Emerging in the 1930s and starting to peak by the 1950s an idea that compassionate care was essential for the treatment of addicts and alcoholics started to take hold. Over the years this idea evolved into what we consider Traditional Addiction Treatment today and many of the concepts of treatment that developed at that time are still in use today.
What is Considered Traditional Addiction Treatment?
Today traditional addiction treatment is generally considered to be a combination of the medical model and the 12 step program for addiction. The medical model views addiction and alcoholism as a chronic disease that requires a combination of medication and behavioral therapies to treat. The 12 step program is a treatment model that consists of self-help group meetings that are designed to provide community support for individuals with addiction issues.
In traditional treatment settings the addict is viewed as having a chronic but treatable disease rather than having a weak will. While this treatment model views this disease as having no cure it believes that it can be put into a state of long-term remission with the proper treatment. The medical model uses several types of medications that have shown to be helpful to assist former addicts and alcoholics to maintain abstinence.
The 12-step program for treatment of addiction was developed in the early 1930s and is based on the book, ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’. The book outlines the treatment methods that several of the movement’s early practitioners used to achieve and maintain sobriety. The 12 step approach outlines 12 specific steps that the substance abuser must complete with the help of another of group member. They say that if done properly these steps will assure long-term sobriety with continued involvement with the group.
12-step meetings are community based and run on a volunteer basis by the group members themselves. They are available in most areas of the country on a daily basis and in that way are not very hard to find. Part of the twelve step program is a form of mentoring called “sponsorship” in which an addict or alcoholic that has completed the twelve steps works with a newer member to guide them through the process. For some people this continued involvement and support is vital in the success of their recovery program.
Traditional treatment programs use group and individual counseling along with behavioral therapy to help addicted individuals identify behaviors and situations that might cause them to relapse back to substance use. In combination with getting them oriented to 12 step programs and how to utilize them for continued support after treatment, they utilize these behavioral therapies to prepare clients to reenter society.
Are All Traditional Addiction Treatment Rehab Centers the Same?
Traditional addiction treatment has itself evolved from its beginnings in the 1930s as has traditional treatment centers. For example, the book, ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’ makes no mention of using medications in the process of treating an individual for addiction. At the time the book was written there were no medications available that were considered to be safe and effective for addiction treatment. While one of the book’s authors was a doctor he applied no medical basis for the 12-step program, the medical model actually evolved separately. Over time the two schools of thought became integrated to become what we consider traditional treatment.
In that way, individual treatment centers also evolved their treatment approaches. Through decades of trial and error these centers adopted techniques that seemed to be the most effective for treating their clients. So while many centers are considered to be traditional treatment programs they are varied from program to program.
Is Traditional Addiction Treatment Effective?
Based on the fact that millions of Americans are currently living a life of long-term abstinence as a result of attending a traditional treatment program, the answer would be yes. While the overall statistics based on the number of addicts who attend a traditional treatment program compared to those that achieve and maintain sobriety seem low, these numbers can be misleading.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) released a report that compares the rate of relapse in addiction recovery to the relapse rates of other chronic diseases. It compared addiction to illnesses such as type 1 diabetes, asthma, and hypertension. All of these conditions are treatable and can be managed successfully in the same way addiction can. What NIDA found was that the relapse rate in addiction was similar to these other conditions across the board. So in the same way, you wouldn’t consider someone a failure who had a relapse of asthma symptoms, you shouldn’t deem treatment a failure if an addict relapses. Unfortunately due to its chronic nature addiction relapse is possible and in some cases likely and continuing care may be necessary to achieve and maintain remission.
If you would like more information on traditional addiction treatment, call today. One of our representatives will be happy to provide answers to any questions you may have about our programs.