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Why Is Medical Detox for Substance Abuse Not Enough?

Medical detox programs fail just as often as ‘cold-turkey’ methods, making it a waste of wealth and a lie to say they do work. With a success rate of less than 15%, we have to look at the fundamental flaws of the programs as a way to correct them with different programs. The following is a list of seven major reasons medical detox does not work:

1. Medical detox doesn’t recognize and treat the brain disease that causes drug cravings using new medical developments, including the Prometa protocol and buprenorphine (Suboxone)

2. Most detox-rehab programs don't diagnose and treat underlying and previously existing mental problems like depression, anxiety, and even bipolar disorder. The usual prescriptions used to treat these problems may not help addicts and can actually make the problem worse.

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3. It fails to analyze each person's individual situation and to work with him or her to realize cognitively the extent of his or her problem. Addiction counselors should be using tools like the Readiness to Change Quadrant Evaluation and then follow up, not just send them home on an outpatient procedure.

4. Most medical detox programs do not effectively evaluate and treat the nutritional aspects of substance abuse. They fail to employ nutritionists to maintain a psychologically healthy diet.

5. The current detox-rehab cycle does not include treating alcohol and drug addictions on an ongoing and personal basis for at least a year to maintain that recovery. Most outpatient programs are very short, lasting less than 12 weeks.

6. Current detox-rehab programs allow addicted persons to return to their lives after the initial treatment is completed without modifying their environment; an environment which pushed them to begin using in the first place.

7. A lot of medical detox treatments in Canada are for "Substance Abuse," and everyone gets basically the same treatment regimen, regardless of what fancy words or categories they are sorted into. The person must admit that they are an addict and submit to the program's mandates, even if they do not fully participate in the process itself. Many people “fake it” until they can get out. Others check out early by choice and return to using very quickly.

To solve fundamentally these problems, a change of perspective is needed. We need to focus on logic at every level. When confronted with a problem, it is easy to transfer over knowledge from another field, but we must reject that because addiction is not like other fields.

We can easily start at the bottom and work out way out with the addict: designing programs to remedy their environmental and psychological problems after the initial treatments. This means extending existing addiction models by at least twice their normal length. We should be filling that time with environmental modification and job training, as well as other factors that influence recidivism. I believe this is simply the next step in rehab research: it will puncture research circles eventually.


marcel gemme author

Marcel Gemme

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Marcel Gemme has been helping people struggling with addiction for over 19 years. He first started as an intake counselor for a drug rehabilitation center in 2000. During his 5 years as an intake counselor, he helped many addicts get the treatment they needed. He also dealt with the families and friends of those people; he saw first-hand how much strain addiction puts on a family and how it can tear relationships apart. With drug and alcohol problems constantly on the rise in the United States and Canada, he decided to use the Internet as a way to educate and help many more people in both those countries. This was 15 years ago. Since then, Marcel has built two of the largest websites in the U.S. and Canada which reach and help millions of people each year. He is an author and a leader in the field of drug and alcohol addiction. His main focus is threefold: education, prevention and rehabilitation. To this day, he still strives to be at the forefront of technology in order to help more and more people.

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