Conventional drug treatment approaches work well for many people. The 12-Step model, drug rehab programs, medication and talk therapy have helped millions to overcome their addictions to drugs or alcohol.
But different people have different needs, and alternative approaches are sometimes needed to get people invested in their recovery. Here are just a few of the newer approaches to addiction treatment. Read more
Successfully completing a drug rehab program is a great accomplishment, and it is a very difficult and challenging undertaking. For most people, however, simply getting through substance abuse treatment is not the end of the challenges that they face: Avoiding relapse is arguably one of the most difficult parts of maintaining recovery over time. Read more
For the past 20 years, September has been reserved for the observance of National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month to educate the nation about the benefits of substance abuse treatment and celebrate people who are on the road to recovery.
The positive influence of domestic animals on human recovery and continued emotional well-being is documented, and includes recovery from addiction. Many people develop strong emotional bonds with their pets, and for some, this relationship can provide the strength to heal and recover from substance abuse. Read more
Heroin addicts comprise a relatively small proportion of drug addicts in the United States; however, due to the extremely addictive nature of the drug and the destructive consequences of heroin use – not only for users but for communities as well – experts continue to be concerned about the use of heroin. Read more
An article published in the South Coast Times, a local newspaper in Falmouth, Massachusetts, provides an excellent example of the relaxation response put into practical use for assisting recovery. A residential addiction treatment program in the area has developed a program known as Knitting Night. Knitting Night is a combination of therapy and social interaction, and utilizes the repetitive, calming effect of knitting to help residents achieve the relaxation response. This form of therapy allows each resident to improve her physical and emotional capacity to deal with stress without reverting to substance abuse.
Knitting also carries symbolic significance for participants. Learning to work with the yarn, instead of fight with it, is akin to learning to work with one’s own emotional and psychological issues instead of against them. One participant articulated the challenge perfectly: “Fighting with this yarn is like fighting with my addiction … [The yarn has] messed up three times, so I’ve started over three times to straighten it out. … You might say this is like my life … I’ll keep at this until I’ve finished and made something I’m proud of.”
According to Dr. Benson’s research, there are four key steps involved in eliciting the relaxation response:
1. A Quiet Environment
Choose a quiet, calm environment with as few distractions as possible. A quiet environment increases the effectiveness of the following steps by making it easier to eliminate distracting thoughts.
2. A Mental Device
To transport the mind from logical, externally oriented thought, a constant stimulus of some kind is necessary; for example, a repeated sound, word, or phrase (either silently or aloud) is often effective. You can also fix your gaze on an object or engage in a calm, repetitive activity. The goal is to eliminate distracting thoughts and mind wandering. Give special attention to the normal rhythm of breathing to enhance the repetition of the sound or the word.
3. A Passive Attitude
When you have a distracting thought, do your best to disregard it. Don’t worry about how well you are doing; just try to stay in the moment. Worrying can prevent the relaxation response from happening, so try to adopt a “let it happen” attitude.
4. A Comfortable Position
Place your body in a comfortable posture so that you are not experiencing any undue muscular tension. You may sit in a chair or use the cross-legged “lotus” position used in yoga. You may choose to lie down, though with this position there is a tendency to fall asleep. You should be comfortable and relaxed.