Controversial Ways to Recovery
More people are addicted to drugs and alcohol than at any other time in our nation’s history. As more people seek treatment, medical science has tried to meet this need by coming up with new, sometimes controversial ways to recovery. Here are 3 of the most controversial ways to recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.
Controversial Ways to Recovery: Methadone and Suboxone
Methadone and Suboxone are opioids that have been widely used to minimize withdrawal symptoms and craving in opiate addicts. This is long-term administration of opiate medications to prevent relapse. The medications basically curb cravings and block other short-term opiates-like heroin and most painkillers-from binding to opiate receptors. So if a person tries to use their drug of choice while on maintenance pharmacotherapies for opiate addiction, they will not get the “high.” Critics claim that this is simply trading one addiction for another. However, studies indicate that administering maintenance pharmacotherapies for opiate addiction can reduce overdose fatalities by more than 50%. They also reduce the spread of disease and crime in areas where opiate addiction is common. However, both medications are addictive and difficult to wean off of because of severe withdrawal symptoms. Also, neither medication addresses the underlying cause of addiction.
Controversial Ways to Recovery: Ibogaine
Ibogaine is a psychoactive alkaloid used mainly in the treatment of opioid addiction. Ibogaine therapy for drug addiction is beneficial because unlike standard opioid detoxes, it does not use another addictive opioid to wean you off the first. It is proposed that there is also some therapeutic value to the hallucinogenic trip in ibogaine therapy for drug addiction, such as examining the behaviors that led to the addiction in the first place. Some users report “visions” that help them conquer their addictions while using the drug. A few addiction experts think that focused counseling during this time could be beneficial, although there is yet to be any type of controlled study to confirm this.
By some reports, ibogaine has a mortality rate that can be as high as 1 in 300. It can slow the heart and be lethal to someone with pre-existing medical problems, because it can cause severe side effects such as hallucinations, seizures, fatal heart arrhythmia and brain damage.
Controversial Ways to Recovery: Deep Brain Stimulation
Deep brain stimulation is a surgical procedure. A small device is placed in a specific region of the brain. The device emits electrical signals to disrupt activity in the targeted area. Deep brain stimulation has been used to treat Parkinson’s and some forms of epilepsy, and is now being studied for its use in addiction treatment. Studies with rats have suggested that the procedure could help with cocaine addiction.
However, this is an invasive surgery. There are risks of complications such as hallucinations, brain hemorrhage and infection. It is an experimental procedure, and there is not yet any proof of its efficacy.
So far, science has yet to come up with a “magic bullet” to treat addiction. We definitely need something better than what we have, but not one that risks more harm than the addiction itself. Controversial ways to recovery can sometimes be counterproductive- they can give addicts and their families’ false hope for a quick cure and steer us away from treatments that we know work.