By Gabe Sanders PhD, NSCA-CSCS
Whether you or someone you know has experienced opiate addiction, you're likely to understand the wide range of emotions that can occur as a result of this life-changing addiction. I have recently given a lot of thought and research on this topic because it is so prevalent in the lives of many people. There are many approaches to treating addiction, however, there is no single approach that is best, or 100% successful.
Addiction is more than just a chemical trigger
Researchers and healthcare providers are constantly trying to establish optimal techniques to help people battle their addiction. While opiates can create a chemical dependency on an addict; addiction itself is far more than a chemical trigger or hook. There are numerous psychological, behavioral, and environmental factors that lead to chemical addiction.
Interestingly, the intertwinement of all these factors is complex and different for each person. While recovery and 12-step treatments focus on changing behaviors, treatments also aim to help addicts better cope with environmental triggers that lead to continued abuse.
These treatment and rehabilitation centers are necessary, but perhaps there is more we, as a society, can do to improve or provide an environment for an addict that provides them with a purpose for living and avoiding further drug abuse.
Addicts are human. They need a purpose and direction
More often than not, addicts are labeled, by society, as junkies or hopeless druggies that will do anything for a high. There are many instances when addicts compulsively and continuously exhibit addictive behavior, however, an addict is a human being with feelings, emotions, and needs.
Just like you and me, an addict needs purpose and direction and most importantly, they need to feel significant. Feeling significant is a basic human emotion and often, addicts exhibit a loss of purpose in life and they feel quite insignificant.
Although there is not a simple fix to magically providing a recovering addict with purpose, the goal of families, friends, and loved ones is to find positive triggers that will instill hope in other human beings who struggle with this disease called addiction.
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Joseph, Herman, and Joycelyn Sue Woods. “Changing the treatment direction for opiate addiction: Dr. Dole's research.” Substance use & misuse 53.2 (2018): 181-193.