Rodney King, a man whose videotaped beating led to the 1992 Los Angeles riots, accidentally drowned in his own swimming pool in June 2012. As a controversial public figure, there was much speculation as to what might have happened that fateful day in June when Mr. King lost his life. The coroner report found that Mr. King, who had long struggled with addiction, died after drowning and at the time, had been using drugs and consuming alcohol. The toxicology report found marijuana, cocaine, PCP and a blood-alcohol level of .06 in Mr. King’s system.
Even though the death of Mr. King is a tragic situation, the fact that the toxicology report came back with rather shocking findings puts the spotlight on Mr. King’s failed attempt at recovery from the problems he had with addiction. It puts the spotlight on the fact that perhaps Mr. King, like so many others who struggle with addiction, was not fully aware of the problems he had. Rodney King referred to himself as a recovering addict but Mr. King did not stop consuming alcohol and had a doctor’s clearance for medical marijuana – that type of behavior is not what we associate with ‘recovering’ from anything with.
The Need For Treatment
While the death of Mr. King is tragic, it once again shows that unless there is a behavioral aspect to treatment, relapse is something that will be lurking right around the corner. Detoxification is a great start for anyone who struggles with addiction. It is a great way for someone to have a ‘clear mind,’ but it is not enough for many to have a life without addiction.
If someone expects to remain clean and live a sober lifestyle, patients going through recovery have to make a number of commitments to themselves. This is not just about the decision to stop using drugs; that is only part of the equation. In order to avoid the temptation that they have faced before and in order to avoid the triggers that may make them prone to relapse, they have to undergo a learning process. They have to learn how to deal with their emotions in moments of stress, anger and frustration. They may have to avoid certain friends if those friends are still entrenched in the drug culture and there is a chance that specific places will serve as emotional triggers for their previous drug use. There are many things that people struggling with addiction need to be aware of.
The Difference In Treatments
The approach used to aid a person struggling with addiction can make all the difference. The traditional 12-step programs focus mainly on the ‘good of the group’ and the person’s willpower to treat addiction. Our judicial system tends to take a punitive approach, forcing someone to sober up by putting them behind bars and punishing through the legal system for having a problem with an illegal narcotic. Neither treatment option is particularly successful because they both ignore important components of recovery.
Many of the drug treatment facilities keep the patient there long enough to make the patient sever the initial physical dependence on drugs. This means that patients go through withdrawal symptoms, oftentimes feel physically horrible and then in two or three weeks, after the physical dependence on the narcotic has weakened or worn off, (depending on the drug) the patient is told to behave, fly right and then sent on their way.
However, oftentimes the psychological dependence on the drug lasts much longer. Depending on how long the patient has been struggling with addiction, their entire life revolves around financing, procuring, or using drugs. The individual must take steps to re-socialize after they leave treatment. They are taught how to be vigilant, be aware of possible cravings and avoid triggers.
The Need For A Personalized Approach
As you can probably imagine, not everyone starts experimenting with drugs or alcohol for the same reason. There are different reasons for different people, even if someone is the same sex, same age, has an identical job and educational background, their reasons for addiction may be vastly different. That is why it is necessary to have a personalized approach for that person, which illustrates the need for counselors to work with patients one-on-one. No singular approach is guaranteed to work for everyone who walks into a treatment facility.
Because these individuals may have a number of different reasons that caused the problem, it does not seem appropriate to establish a treatment plan that does not focus on the person. This is not just a treatment plan for the duration of the patient’s stay; this is a long-term plan intended to provide guidance whenever the person leaves the treatment facility and goes about living their life. This is not just about “willpower,” it is about understanding that drugs are not the answer, and how to deal with daily problems.
Finding The Right Treatment
This is why the desire to seek treatment is only the first step, the next and perhaps even more important step, is finding the right type of treatment. This is precisely why long-term inpatient treatment centers that focus on a holistic approach to biophysical detoxification are becoming more popular treatment options. These types of treatment facilities focus on all of the previously mentioned aspects and with a long-term treatment program, the patient can be sure that they have the time they need to adjust to living a life without the use of drugs or alcohol. These types of treatment are proven to be more successful when it comes to achieving long-term sobriety. Addiction did not start overnight and patients should not expect recovery to come overnight either, making long term treatment the most viable option.
Even though the death of someone due to their struggles with alcohol and drugs is always tragic, it is important to take away what we can, from the situation. People must to realize that ‘recovery’ does not mean picking and choosing what drug to use and what drug to avoid. Long-lasting recovery is possible, but the person has to learn how to avoid triggers and not selectively choose what they can use and what to claim as addiction. Because someone who beats addiction to one drug but is still addicted to others – is still considered an addict.