As an individual who has had more than a fair share of trouble at the hands of his addiction, I empathize with everyone who struggles with this issue and has attempted to locate and secure treatment for their problem. In this country we have a lot of fancy terminology, expensive medications, and no shortage of “experts” in the field of addiction medicine willing to offer up their two cents. There are many suggested statistics for the frequency of relapse vs. potential long term recovery in any given treatment module, but that is all they ultimately represent; suggestions, with little if any foundation in scientific fact. It is impossible to detail every available addiction treatment method here, however it is relatively simple to identify the very logical reasoning behind the abysmal success rates of treatment in this country.

It is widely agreed upon that addiction as a disorder encompasses four facets; Biological, Psychological, Social, and Spiritual. To effectively offset the progression of symptoms, all four of these areas must be addressed comprehensively, lest any of them provide a path to relapse. Here are the methods which the majority of rehabs will employ to “address” these issues:

Biological: Your physical health, the balance of your body’s natural ecosystem, overall fitness, these things commonly fall by the wayside in the course of active addiction and many of the unpleasant side effects come as a result. In the nicest facilities you may have daily gym access, or eat decent tasting foods, but decent taste is hardly an indication of nutritional superiority. And assuming you actually do work out every single day you might come out in okay shape. When faced with a life or death situation, I prefer solutions with viable outcomes and tangible results. For example, IV fluids with electrolytes, amino acids, and vitamins to help restore your body’s natural state, organic whole super foods like chia and acai. All of these will benefit your body and in turn the next area…

Psychological: Your mental health or stability, a complex landscape built from neurotransmitters and other chemical signals in your brain. Addiction and it’s inherent resistance to treatment is first and foremost the product of the havoc it wreaks upon your brain’s natural chemical balance and the firing of electrical impulses which govern the function of your entire body. Most residential treatment centers will simply diagnose patients with some type of mental disorder like severe depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder, and prescribe the “proper” medications to attempt to fix the brain’s chemical imbalance. It’s not hard to see the fallacy of treating a chemical imbalance caused by extraneous chemicals by introducing even more extraneous chemicals. Some of the higher end treatment centers will also offer psychological therapy in conjunction with the group therapy and recovery meetings that are the backbone of 90% of treatment centers.

Social: Addiction is typically a product of an individual’s social setting and skills as much as anything else. Many addicts confess having had trouble interacting with others until they were intoxicated, which usually takes place for the first time at some point in an individual’s adolescent years. Consequently, as an individual grows older and should ideally be maturing in their ability to interact with others, their growth in this area is stunted and will remain that way until the chemical abuse is halted. This issue is critical to continued sobriety because if an individual has no sober friends, does not know how to communicate effectively while sober, and cannot successfully form constructive relationships moving forward, they are almost guaranteed to return to their active addiction. Residential treatment centers offer almost no solution to this problem besides recommending participation in 12 step meetings and the corresponding fellowship of the AA/NA program. This combined with whatever interactions they may have with others at the center during the course of their treatment is plainly insufficient to counter years of practiced habitual tendencies and safeguard an individual who will more than likely have to return to wherever they were living before treatment.

Spiritual: This area is arguably the most difficult to treat because it is an area of development that is highly individual and has many different forms. In addition most addicts are devoid of any prominent religious beliefs, or at the very least in the practice of said beliefs. Once again the primary means offered for combating this lack of spiritual connection is to work the 12 step program and go about selecting a “Higher Power” that speaks to you. It is often said in AA/NA that this Power can be anything you want, that many of those who were devoutly atheist initially chose the group conscience as their Higher Power. Once again this is all fine and good assuming that the individual resonates with the program and adheres to all of it’s guidelines and principles, however, this is not only uncommon but also relatively unreasonable to expect.