The most important thing to remember when you bravely decide to seek addiction treatment is that you’re more than a disease. You’re a beautiful, multi-faceted being with a detailed history, filled with hopes, dreams, and abilities. To fully embrace healing, you need supportive professionals who see beyond your symptoms and help you explore your potential. This is the foundation of whole-person care.
No One Intends to Develop Addiction
For decades, addiction was considered a moral failing coupled with a lack of willpower that affected only “certain types of people.” There were also damaging negative societal stigmas that compounded the perspective of addiction—even within the medical community—such as a history of mental illness, low socioeconomic status, or an unstable family life.
But over time, scientists made significant discoveries:
The disease of addiction doesn’t discriminate by age, ethnicity, family status, identity, income, profession, or religion. In 2019, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) reported that 21 million people in the U.S. struggled with addiction—and “one in five didn’t know where to turn to for help.” Anyone can develop issues with addiction if certain risk factors are present (more on that in a moment).
Comprehensive changes in brain chemistry occur as a result of the artificial stimuli of drugs and alcohol. In the early 90s, psychiatrist and researcher Nora Volkow determined that for people with alcohol use disorder (AUD) and substance use disorder (SUD), “the frontal areas of the brain were impaired. They had increased activity in this area if they were studied while craving the drug, and markedly decreased activity when studied during withdrawal, but not experiencing drug craving.”
Addiction is a chronic disease. AAMC states that “the American Medical Association first recognized ‘alcoholism and ‘drug dependence’ as diseases in 1966 and 1987, respectively.”
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) categorizes AUD and SUD as conditions that can’t be cured but can certainly be effectively treated and managed, similar to other chronic medical conditions, such as arthritis, diabetes, and heart and liver disease.
Understanding Addiction Risk Factors
Nora Volkow (mentioned above)—now the director of NIDA—points out that 50 percent of addiction risk is genetic. “Some people are much more susceptible than others,” she said. “We don’t know much, yet, about how to modify genetic risk, but we do know that if you have a genetic vulnerability, we can provide an environment that can strengthen you against it. This is where the big challenge is today: taking advantage of what we have learned, for example, to strengthen circuits in the brain that are involved in exerting self-control.”
Other primary risk factors of addiction include:
Various types of trauma, such as adverse childhood experiences, abuse of any kind, discrimination, and violence, to name a few
Living with a family member with, SUD, AUD, or who has attempted or died by suicide
Uncontrolled co-occurring mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or PTSD
Environmental factors such as peer groups or, conversely, a lack of social attachments, high substance availability, and chronic stress, among others
Going to rehab for detoxification to reduce the physical symptoms of drug or alcohol abuse is certainly helpful, but it’s simply putting a key into a vehicle ignition without starting it. Is it a choice to initially use alcohol and illicit drugs? Yes. But each individual has reasons why. Integrated whole-person treatment examines the root causes of addiction and puts the puzzle pieces together, so addiction recovery is not only possible, but also successful.
The Holistic Approach of Whole-Person Care
An off-the-shelf addiction treatment isn’t effective. A whole-person care philosophy addresses the need to help you forge a unique path to recovery.
It starts with determining what factors have contributed to your journey so far and what they mean. Then, addiction specialists partner with you to decide on which evidence-based treatment methods can help you progress into recovery. Holistic addiction treatment works on the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of your life while you get proper clinical treatment. These fundamental changes in all aspects of self provide a plan for an enriching, sober life.
Some components of holistic care include:
- 12-step programs, process groups, and other recovery support groups
- Addiction education, including recognizing triggers and learning how to manage them effectively
- Progressive therapeutic techniques such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing
- Individual and group therapy sessions
- Complementary wellness initiatives such as nutritional counseling, stress management, yoga, mindfulness, and other programs
- When given the chance to discover the reasons for your addiction and, more importantly, learn how to move beyond it, this is when you’re living to your full potential.
Whole-Person Care at Fair Oaks
If you or a loved one recognizes the need for quality addiction treatment that truly acknowledges the individual, please talk with one of our admission specialists at our Sacramento center.