At A Better Life Recovery, we believe that the gifts and skills of modern science can contribute significantly to the 12-step process of spiritual transformation.

Introduction

Recently there have been some Tweets and other opinions from folks out there on the Internet who believe that traditional addiction treatment is ineffective. They often point to high relapse rates, high costs, etc. Some even advance the notion that “disease concept” of addiction is hogwash and it remains largely a moral, ethical, and criminal symptom of weak character and self-control.

The same people also often suggest that all that is needed instead of traditional treatment is some kind of injection or magic pill that will keep addicts (including alcoholics) from using. In short many people believe that a technological or scientific “cure” is the ultimate solution.

Unfortunately addiction is a disease that displays an array of physical, mental, emotional and other symptoms. Moreover the vast majority of those that have recovered since the birth of AA in 1935 would no doubt agree that at its core addiction is fundamentally a spiritual malady.

There is no way around the central need for a spiritual solution.

To paraphrase from the book Alcoholics Anonymous, “We hope one day science finds a cure for addiction, but it hasn’t done so yet.” However, this same book also speaks to the important role of science and health care professionals in contributing to the battle against addiction.

To paraphrase from the book Alcoholics Anonymous, “We hope one day science finds a cure for addiction, but it hasn’t done so yet.”

However, the “Big Book” also speaks to the important role of science and health care professionals in contributing to the battle against addiction:

“But this does not mean that we disregard human health measures. God has abundantly supplied this world with fine doctors, psychologists, and practitioners of various kinds. Do not hesitate to take your health problems to such persons. Most of them give freely of themselves, that their fellows may enjoy sound minds and bodies. Try to remember that though God has wrought miracles among us, we should never belittle a good doctor or psychiatrist. Their services are often indispensable in treating a newcomer and in following his case after.”

– Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 133

The idea that some new found chemical molecule can cure addiction is analogous to the notion that putting criminals in prison will cause a psychic change in criminal thinking and behavior.

Albert Einstein, perhaps the greatest scientific mind in history, found deeper meaning in his theories of special and general relativity. The precision and elegance of his mathematical equations led Einstein to conclude that an intelligent force behind the creation and continuation of all matter and energy. Simply put his scientific vision led him to become a deeply spiritual person.

At A Better Life Recovery we believe that science and faith are not opposing concepts, but harmonious allies in the fight against addiction. We believe that modern science, technology, and medicine have important contributions to make in

Some Useful Scientific Tools

Here are some of the tools of modern science and medicine used by A Better Life Recovery. Note that we do not utilize and are philosophically opposed to the use of synthetic opiate substitutes for heroin such as Methadone and Suboxone.

Vivitrol: Vivitrol is a slow release injection form of Naltrexone, an opiate and alcohol receptor blocking medication. A single Vivitrol injection essential “locks” receptor cells in the brain from feeling the effects of opiates and/or alcohol. In short, a recovering addict who has had a Vivitrol injection simply can’t get high for the next 30 days or so.

A Better Life Recovery endorses the selective use of Vivitrol when appropriate as a component of an overall treatment regimen. The value of such medical tools is in their ability to assist in reaching a true, long-term solution. They do so by giving clients some temporary relief and breathing room while they begin a journey of lasting spiritual progress.

Vivitrol does not solve the core desire among addicts to use and get high; it just temporarily deprives them of the result of using. If an addict does not undergo profound spiritual, psychological and emotional change, he/she will often simply stop taking Vivitrol, or switch to a substance not blocked by Vivitrol, so that they can once again get loaded.

Here are some specific reasons why Vivitrol is a useful tool especially in the early stages of addiction treatment:

· By preventing an addict from getting high if he uses, Vivitrol may help prevent the addict from suffering some the additional serious consequences that result from behavior and choices made while high.

· Vivitrol possesses a psychological deterrent in that an addict who has had injection consciously is informed and aware that he simply can’t get high, so why bother.

· Studies have shown that Vivitrol actually reduces the craving sensations common to addicts during early detoxification and treatment.

Once study on Vivitrol is particularly worthy of mention (article 1 below). The study concluded that the rate of continuous abstinence at end of study was 32% for patients on Vivitrol versus 11% for a control group. It should be noted that all the patients received counseling during the study; this implies that Vivitrol can indeed be a helpful tool in support of traditional addiction counseling.

Please see the following publications and scientific articles for more information on Vivitrol.

1. The Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, October 2007 edition, “Efficacy of Extended-Release Naltrexone in Alcohol-Dependent Patients Who Are Abstinent Before Treatment.”

2. The Lancet, April 28, 2011, “Injectable extended-release naltrexone for opioid dependence: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter randomized trial.”

3. SAMSHA Advisory, Winter 2012, Volume 11, Issue 1, “An Introduction to Extended-Release Injectable Naltrexone for the Treatment of People with Opioid Dependence.”

On the downside, like any medication Vivitrol does have some side effects. Another negative is that in rare cases alcoholics and addicts have been known to ingest large amounts of substances in the hope of overwhelming the blocking effects of Vivitrol, leading to overdoses.

Other Slow Release Injections: Patients on certain psych medications such as Haldol and Depakote often struggle with taking daily pills as prescribed, and thereby never obtain the desired relief and mood stability these medications are intended to provide. At A Better Life Recovery, some of our clients have experienced substantial benefits by receiving monthly, slow-release injections of these psych meds.

Anti-Depressants: Addicts often present with co-occurring issues such as depression and anxiety. Careful prescription of appropriate anti-depressants by a licensed psychiatrist can often give clients much needed relief and “breathing room” so they can focus on their addiction counseling program. A Better Life Recovery works closely with a Psychiatrist who specializes in addiction issues; all of our clients receive an initial consultation and follow-up visits as needed to determine if anti-depressants are warranted and to calibrate them as needed.

Prescription Sleep Medications: People in the early stages of sobriety and recovery are often faced with serious sleep deprivation issues. Carefully prescribed non-narcotic, non-addictive sleep medication can often help clients get much needed sleep so their minds and bodies can properly function as they begin their journey of recovery.

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Conclusion

These are just a few of the many tools modern science has made available in the fight against addiction. A Better Life Recovery will continue to seek the input of our colleagues in medicine and science regarding any and all new means supplementing and improving our treatment program with cutting-edge innovations. Addiction is a formidable and resilient foe; the fight against it will continue to require the full attention of the brightest minds and most dedicated people on the planet.

– Paul Stackhouse, December 2015

(Mr. Stackhouse is one of the founders of A Better Life Recovery. He holds an A.B. degree in Economics from Harvard University and an MBA degree from the University of Chicago. He currently serves as Director of Finance and Administration.)