Disease of Addiction - Frequently Asked Questions

*Some of the following include questions regarding inpatient treatment for adults.

1. Do you use drugs to help alleviate withdrawal process from drugs?
Yes. Depending on the nature of the drug used by the patient prior to admission our medical team prescribes as safe, short acting medications to ease the acute withdrawal common in alcoholics and other drugs.

2. Do you use any of the newer drugs I’ve read about that supposedly help reduce cravings or shorten withdrawal?
No. We believe that addiction is a disease of the brain. Drugs produce a progressive dysregulation of brain reward circuiting, a state of nonequilibrium. Removing the drugs allows the brain to return to a state of equilibrium over time. Adding other drugs to “help” or hasten the process actually delays the brain’s return to a state of equilibrium or homeostasis.

3. How do you treat the addict who is also depressed and taking tranquilizers?
At our residential facility every patient’s medical history including any psychoactive drugs currently being taken is assessed carefully by our medical team. Both science and our experience point to the fact that, for the addict, depression as well as anxiety and other seeming mood disorders can actually be the result of addictive alcohol and drug use. When the patient’s history reveals that the psychoactive medication was begun after drug use began, we ask the patient to stop taking the medication.

The reasons are two fold:

1. As stated earlier, the brain needs to reset itself to reach stasis and
2. Many psychoactive drugs produce changes in what are called “reward thresholds” which leave the patient very vulnerable to relapse.

4. How does a patient then deal with being depressed, anxious or stressed?
Alcohol and drug addiction negatively affect how the addict feels, thinks and acts as well as how the body functions. Recovery entails learning new skills to deal with the impact on thinking and feeling and changing the dietary regimen through nutrition therapy. Dr. Milam found, for instance, that most alcoholics are hypoglycemic and due to low blood sugar suffer depression, mood swings, anxiety and cravings. Patients are taught to deal with these fluctuating feelings by using cognitive therapy and the principles of a 12-step program. After intensive treatment (inpatient or outpatient) every patient receives continuing care to practice new skills and deal with the stress of early recovery. Facing problems squarely usually brings a sense of relief as well as a growing sense of ease with sobriety. The most frequent comment we hear from our patients is “Thanks for giving me my life back to me.”

5. *Can I talk to my patient’s counselor?
All questions by family members and friends about patients are directed to the family liaison. She will also contact family members about the educational opportunities offered at LMRC about the disease of addiction and its effects on family members.

6. *Is smoking permitted?
Patients may smoke in designated areas during free time.

7. Why do people relapse despite treatment?
Addiction is a chronic disease which can recur like diabetes and hypertension. Just as with other chronic diseases, the addict can relapse if he/she does not follow the regimen laid out in the program. In treatment we advise patients that if you do not move forward (i.e. take the steps necessary each day to stay sober) you are moving backwards (i.e., slipping into old ways of thinking, believing and acting). The addict cannot underestimate the power of the disease to lure him/her back into a pattern of living that leads to drinking/ using.

Riverside Recovery Centers’s prescription for recovery includes:

1. Attending continuing care regularly.

2. Active involvement in a 12-step program.

3. Healthy living – eating right, exercising.

4. Working with a psychologist or psychiatrist if necessary to deal with underlying issues and / or persistent disturbing emotions.