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Elderly professional psychotherapist, shrink, comforting his depressed young patient who is feeling anxious and depressed

The Wrong Way To Treat Addiction

With the rise of the opioid crisis, it’s natural to see more treatment clinics pop up with the intent to free people of their addictions. And while there are certainly scrupulous characters in the mix, there are also facilities that mean well but lack fundamental knowledge when it comes to recovery. Interestingly The Boston Globe recently touched on this topic, highlighting mistakes that are being made as Americans struggle to get clean.


One area highlighted in their article is the “cold turkey” approach. We do happen to agree that cutting a person completely off from a lengthy addiction could be problematic. In our world, detox is an essential element of the recovery processGlobe writer Felice J. Freyer emphasized that there are also recovery drugs which have been successful. Methadone, buprenorphine and Vivitrol were highlighted as treatment options for severe dependencies, such as heroin. Also, there are certain patients who decline medications when they enter a program; believing in total abstinence. That too should be addressed, ensuring that those who enter a program truly understand the proven methods of success.


Another common mistake made by recovery centers involves discounting mental illness. Sure the problem at hand may be drugs or alcohol, but underneath it could be symptoms of depression, anxiety, grief and much more. It is important to understand the full scope of an addiction; utilizing therapists and psychologists, as well as treatment professionals.


The idea of kicking someone out of treatment because of a relapse can be flawed too. Yes, you want to draw a hard line and discourage patients from resuming their habit. But shaming someone and viewing a relapse as a “moral failing” can do tremendous emotional damage. As Freyer writes in her article, “the best providers work with patients to bring them back from relapse or refer them to a higher level of care.”


And finally, we always encourage accreditations and acknowledgments from leaders in the field. Getting certified is much more than a pretty badge on a website. It’s set up to ensure that a business understands the ethics and codes that go along with treatment. Any facility that runs their program properly should have no problem passing the standard tests. If, for whatever reason, they choose not to receive proper credentials from organizations like The Joint Commission, then there should be real concerns and questions should be asked.