Undoubtedly you are familiar with the 12-step program to addiction treatment. It is the cornerstone to the treatment and recovery methodologies used by Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and many other organizations. And while these programs are generally effective and are widely accepted by the professional psychological and recovery community, the 12-Step program is not the only method of Addiction Treatment available – and for some may not be the right type of treatment at all.
An alternative method to the 12-step program for addiction treatment has been developed by A. Thomas Hovarth, Ph.D. and other professionals involved with SMART Recovery, (www.smartrecovery.org) a Non-Profit organization dedicated to helping people overcome all types of addictive behaviors. Unlike the twelve-step model which views addiction – be it to drugs, alcohol, or even non-substance activities such as gambling – as a disease, this alternative addiction treatment looks at addiction, despite it’s admitted biological components, as learned behavior. And as such, it can be corrected using the proven scientific methods of behavior modification.
This type of addiction treatment looks at a drug or alcohol problems less like a disease than as a practical problem that has practical solutions. While certainly not for everybody, for those seeking an alternative to the 12-step program, or perhaps who may have even tried and failed at recovery through such traditional addiction treatment, it may be a viable option.
Another similar addiction treatment alternative can be found in the teachings and methodologies of the Jude Thaddeus Program. The Jude Thaddeus program is a self-proclaimed “Socio-Educational program” based largely on Jungian philosophy.
Dr. Carl Jung and many of his contemporaries observed that an alcoholic or drug addict could only truly recover when they experience a “vital spiritual experience” that transforms their mindset so that they no longer see themselves as a drug addict or alcoholic. The Jude Addiction Treatment claims to provide just such experiences through precise educational and training encounters.
This again is contrary to one of the basic tenants of the 12-step program, which stipulates that the person is always a “recovering” alcoholic or addict, but is never recovered. Alternative addiction treatment programs such as SMART and Jude Thaddeus stress that they never use such labels as “addict” or “alcoholic.” The Jude Thaddeus Program claims 78.6% of those who have successfully completed their program since 1991 have remained clean and sober.
There is yet another theory of alternative addiction treatment that does accept the idea of drug addiction or alcoholism as a disease but uses some of the same ideas of behavior modification to treat it. Aversion therapy is an addiction treatment that uses the idea of classical behavior modification or conditioning. Aversion therapy uses medically supervised stimuli to replace the pleasure normally associated with the craving for or impending use of a drug or alcohol, with an unpleasant feeling like nausea.
Have you ever gotten really sick eating or drinking a certain food? Then you will understand the elegant simplicity of this addiction treatment and why it works. If you have had such an experience, then you know that the mere sight or smell of that food again can bring on the same sick feeling.
The process works on the subconscious rather than the conscious brain. Aversion addiction treatment works at the threat of relapse when the patient is exposed to environmental cues, sights, sounds, smells, etc. that formerly would bring on the need to use drugs or alcohol, and in effect, blocks this desire to use. Aversion therapy as an addiction treatment has been proven successful in those addicted to alcohol, opiates, nicotine, amphetamines and other mind-altering and prescription drugs.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the US Department of Health and Human Services recognizes an entire group of addiction treatment therapies that it classifies as “Alternative.” These include acupuncture, electrical applications, spinal manipulation, sweat therapy, massage or other physical type therapies.
Certain religious rituals or shamanistic practices of indigenous peoples are also recognized as being effectively practiced in some communities. Addiction treatment that focuses on special senses, such as aromatherapy or music therapy are included in the class, as is Traditional Chinese Medicine, which offers centuries-old traditions for treating addiction, especially to opiates. Exercise programs including yoga, meditation, or dance therapy also fall under this classification of alternative addiction treatment.
It all comes down to this, addiction treatment can be as varied as the individuals who are addicted and the substances they are addicted too. There is no “magic bullet” or one treatment program that is right for everyone.