New Hope in the Treatment of Addiction
There is new hope for addiction treatment. Long Island is in the midst of an unprecedented opiate addiction epidemic. Many families are discovering the challenge of getting help that is effective but are confronted with overwhelming costs, systemic challenges and treatment failures. Drug rehabs and chemical dependency programs currently base treatment on models that are over 20 years old that depend on managing addictive behaviors rather than treating the cause of the addiction. Recidivism is high, relapse rates are through the roof. Families are losing hope and are becoming impoverished in the process.
Hope: A New Theory, Method and Outcome
Much of the research funded to study addiction erroneously studied the changes to the brain once addicted, rather than exploring causal factors. In 1995-1997 a study was conducted that changed the direction of focus On the Center for Disease Control Website, one can access the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study. 17,000 individuals were given 10 questions, each an adverse childhood event. The questionnaires were scored and correlated to those individuals physical and mental health. The study reveals that the more adverse events the higher the probability of addiction later in life. It is normal to avoid pain and using turns out to be a maladapted form of coping.
Dr. Robert Miller, developer of a new addiction treatment model, cites a rat study in which two sets of rats were given either only water laced with an addictive substance and the other group both, plain water as well as water laced with an addictive substance. After several weeks both groups were detoxed for four weeks and then both were introduced to plain water and as well water laced with an addictive substance, though the laced water was also tainted with a bad taste. Surprisingly all the rats that were exposed to only the addictive substance chose plain water, while the rats with a choice, mostly drank the laced water.
This outcome suggests it is not the chemical but some kind of learning with in the rats’ brains that caused addiction to manifest. In humans, an underlying negative idea about one self as from adverse childhood events can contribute to a heightened positive feeling state when first getting high. Not the sensation, but a wishful positive idea about oneself combined with moving away from emotional pain. This extreme emotional synergy gets fixed in the brain not dissimilar to how traumatic memories become fixed.
From this, Miller created a process in which an addicted person is asked to identify the positive associations around using along with activation of cravings. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is applied to de-link the fixed associations. Cravings rapidly desensitize until they no longer exist and the thinking switches to more consequential negative associations about using. If there is a trauma history then that is processed next. The results are irreversible.
I have been applying this EMDR Feeling State Addiction Protocol (FSAP) as are a number of my colleagues and we are sending addicts away permanently free of cravings and addictive behaviors. I have treated IV heroin addicts, alcoholics as well as people with addictions to prescription drugs including opiates, nicotine, cocaine, sex and/or food. This new technology should give hope to families who have learned from experience to feel hopeless about their addicted loved ones. EMDR therapy is a brief therapy utilizing bilateral brain stimulation to affect profound and rapid change.
Learn more about addiction treatment.
*Previously published in Sober World, January 2014, Vol 3 Issue 1 P.26