Aftercare for Addiction

Aftercare for addiction implies that addiction is something that happens to you; that it is out of your personal, internal control. This is of course the talk of disease. Diseases do in fact, happen to you. They are out of your immediate control. They do require treatment and in many cases aftercare. Cancer is an abnormal growth of cells that once initiated by the tissues of the body, is an out of control state of being. Once cancer takes hold in the body, and it is battled with chemotherapy, a regimen of aftercare is usually necessary. The recovering cancer patient will be provided a certain diet to follow, an exercise regimen, and possibly some emotional therapy might be added into the aftercare mix. 

Aftercare is a vital piece to overcoming disease fully, which is why it has become a common term used in the “treatment for disease-based addiction” models. But here’s the rub…addiction isn’t a disease, its’ a personally held preference for heavy use of substances. But in order to know for certain that there is no need for aftercare, we must show you that addiction is truly NOT a chronic relapsing brain disease. The Freedom Model for Addictions text provides the evidence against the chronic disease theory, and thus the need for aftercare as well. 

Take a look:

“We hear all the time that “addiction is a chronic relapsing brain disease.” the “chronic” part of that statement is perhaps the most absurd. What is meant by chronic in the case of “addiction” is that it’s ongoing, consistently recurring, and thus needs to be managed or attended to in some way for the rest of your life. In other words, “once an addict, always an addict.” The recovery society compares addiction to diabetes, heart disease, or hypertension to convey this view. You don’t stop having diabetes, rather, you spend the rest of your life adjusting to it through diet, and managing it with medications, and it continues to be a problem for you. Addiction they say, is the same way. However, the data disagrees with this vision of addiction.

Here are the rates of addiction to all substances, by age, from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

The results of this survey are similar year after year, for every year it’s been done. What’s more, it’s similar to results found in other epidemiological surveys. The trend with addiction is that rates consistently go down as a function of age, and they go down rather sharply. Death rates do not even come close to accounting for this. What this means is that people are permanently getting over their addictions; it is not chronic at all. To be clear, people once classified as addicted aren’t continuously relapsing like recovery lore says they will. If this were the case, the rates would not go down with age, and it certainly would not go down so rapidly.

Contrast this with diabetes, a verifiably chronic disease to which addiction is constantly compared:

As you can see from this data acquired from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), at increasing ages more and more people are found to have diabetes. The same is true for Coronary Artery (Heart) Disease (CAD), another condition often compared to addiction:

Heart disease and diabetes are truly chronic conditions that require ongoing treatment and management by the individual sufferer. The numbers grow because nobody is ever cured of heart disease or diabetes, but more people are diagnosed as they get older. Let’s look at the trends for all three of these conditions against one another:

Clearly, the trend for addiction (SUD on the chart) goes down as a function of age while the trends for truly chronic conditions go up with age. Despite the fact that they’re constantly compared by the recovery society, these are not at all comparable conditions.

Now perhaps most important to this discussion, the people who get over their addictions are not constantly “managing their recovery”, or working to prevent relapse. As we showed you in The Freedom Model, most never get treatment or any formal help, and yet, most get over these problems. If you haven’t gotten help for “addiction”, then you certainly aren’t getting the form of treatment known as aftercare. You aren’t using “coping skills” taught to you in treatment programs. You aren’t “avoiding triggers” that you identified in treatment programs; nor are you tied into a “support network” of recovering people. What you’re doing is simply living your life, having moved on from heavy substance use because you’ve found that you’re happier without it.

Contrast this with diabetes. You may have to monitor your glucose levels daily, radically alter your diet and exercise regimens, and administer medications such as insulin for the rest of your life. This is what managing a chronic disease actually looks like.

Getting over an addiction just looks like moving on with your life, and it truly is that, because it is not a chronic disease like diabetes or heart disease or cancer.”

References:

Diabetes: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/statsreport14/national-diabetes-report-web.pdf
Hypertension: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db220.pdf
Addiction: NSDUH 2015, Table 5.3b
https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-DetTabs-2015/NSDUH-DetTabs-2015/NSDUH-DetTabs-2015.htm#tab5-3b
Coronary Artery Disease (i.e. heart disease) https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6040a1.htm

 

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