Understanding Addiction: the Development and Rise of Contemporary Substance Abuse Treatment

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For the most part, the fundamental position with regard to substance abuse has been one of condemnation and even repulsion. Addiction was seen as a personal weak spot, the byproduct of personal ethical flaws and a lack of self-restraint. Addiction, at best, was perceived as a bad habit, at worst, a transgression against God. More recently, strides in understanding, knowledge and research, have led to an insurgence of opportunities for addicts to undergo and partake in treatment that can help alleviate the grip of substance abuse. These breakthroughs have not only given addicts the tools necessary to cope, focus and set goals in life, they have made it possible for them to live normal lives free of the broad scope of destruction they were once subjected to. While addiction has not lost its stigma altogether, an increasing amount of scientific research has enhanced societies overall perceptive of and understanding for the realm of substance abuse. One major development in addiction research is the idea that addiction is first and foremost a natural occurrence. As McIntosh, J & McKeganey put it (2001); addiction is “literally a disease of the brain.” However, although the majority agrees that biology plays some role in addiction, experts on substance abuse are generally separated into two varying fields of thought. The first idea is that addiction is the result of a biological impairment or disease which also encompasses behavioral characteristics. There is also the position that addiction is merely a behavioral dilemma that may or may not be influenced by biological factors. The efforts to try and more thoroughly get a handle on the concrete elements of addiction and understand its’ expansive reach and catastrophic wake have proven vital to the analysis of how treatment should

be adapted to the unique needs of each individual. Consequently, treatment therefore varies based on the substance of abuse, environment, user history and other important factors. The demeanor we hold toward the subject of a drug addiction we derives from the Socialist train of thought that we provide space for ideology to foster a "false consciousness", a false realization of the way drug addiction illness is handled. For example, we polish over the fact that treating heroin addicts with opiates-based treatment such as methadone is truthfully only cornering them within their respective addiction. Like cattle, they are prodded along into a program and then branded a label that deems them irregular; moreover, as a group, they become labeled as nonstandard. Unfortunately, they integrate this into their own identity. It is frequently their struggle with this collective identity that moves them along toward a substance abuse subculture. Once they are adopted by and identified with this subculture their drug use by and large intensifies (Anderson 1994; 1995). Furthermore, there are other associated identity changes evident with the different stages of drug addiction and recovery. Identity problem is a clear theme throughout initiation and recovery from drug addiction. Acknowledging this needs to be given strong consideration during treatment and recovery. Studies show that addicts with longer involvement in substance abuse treatment have better health correlated outcomes. Seeing as how time spent in substance abuse treatment and program completion are more often than not affiliated with more positive end results, defining these elements responsible for increased treatment retention is essential. There are numerous

studies that validate this affiliation that exists between duration of treatment and productive outcomes (Simpson, 1981; Stark, 1992). Inclusively, the value of these resulting studies has shed significant light on establishing which methods and styles are proven effective. Having established this connection, studies have been conducted to determine or predict what clinical components or other matter may impact...
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