Sometimes, even in the midst of the drama of our lives, we need to be thankful for what we’ve got. Even someone in this country who is going through recovery from drug or alcohol addiction should take the time to count their blessings.
Improving Treatment in the United States
Addiction treatment in the United States is constantly changing and hopefully always improving. There may be things that we as a country could be doing better to help those in recovery, but we continue to learn and grow through experience.
There is also the challenge before us to educate and create awareness for the hope and purpose of recovery, but we have certainly come a long way. We now have a wide variety of treatment programs, tailored to meet the needs of different patients. We have groups that are helping preserve someone’s job while they get treatment. We have generated a greater tolerance and understanding toward those with an addiction. We can be thankful that our treatment is nothing like that in some other areas of the world.
A recent article in the New York Times describes in detail what treatment is like in Russia. More like jails than treatment facilities, patients are kept chained or in cages surrounding their beds while they complete their withdrawal. There are no medications to ease the pain, or rehabilitation, or therapy; patients are simply forced to quit their substance cold turkey, and stay until they are deemed ready to go home, which can take up to a year in some cases. Patients are fed bread and water, and after the worst of their detox is over, they can perform designated jobs while remaining isolated from the rest of the world. Those who have witnessed the system of recovery call it primitive, brutal, and ineffective.
“What they present as drug treatment has absolutely no basis in evidence,” said Diederik Lohman, a senior researcher at the monitoring group Human Rights Watch. “What [they do] has little in common with international best practice standards based on research and is unlikely to have any beneficial effect on patients.”
Sergei Polyatykin, head of the medical department at an advocacy group called the Say No to Alcohol and Drugs, said of this approach: “It’s not treatment, it’s jail. Imprisonment and torture can’t help drug addicts to kick the habit. Only a small percentage stay off drugs.” (1)
Russian officials feel they have little choice. Russia is suffering with a heroin epidemic that they cannot contain. But it is also clear that this treatment does not work. No one is teaching these patients how to live back in society without their drugs. There is no rehabilitation, and 90% of addicts in the country relapse.
Bringing the focus back to our country, we can be happy at the treatment options we have. We can be proud that so many people have recovered from their addiction, and can be hopeful that we can keep finding ways to help more people. As we remember the struggles that many have gone through during their recovery in this country, let’s also be thankful that their recovery was made possible by caring staff, loving family, and hard work and commitment.