The Cure to a Disease of Isolation
Since 1989, September has been National Recovery Month. There are an estimated 23 million Americans in recovery from substance use disorder. National Recovery Month is an opportunity to celebrate these folks. It’s also a chance to increase awareness and understanding of the disease that they’re dealing with. The theme this year is celebrating connections, something we stress often here at Ocean Recovery. As we’ve said many times – particularly during the pandemic and quarantine – addiction is a disease of isolation. And whether we are graduates of a residential treatment program or a member of a twelve-step fellowship, or whether we find another path to recovery, there is a common denominator to successfully overcoming substance use disorder. The connections we make are what make our recovery.
Re-Integrating Into Society
In his TED Talk, “Everything You Think You Know About Addiction is Wrong,” Johann Hari states that the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. Rather, it’s connection. One example the British journalist points to is Portugal’s approach to the war on drugs and their results. In 2001, Portugal decriminalized drugs. While drugs are still illegal, the offense is a civil one, not criminal. Furthermore, rather than spending money on punitive measures, they’re using those resources for treatment and re-integration. Consequently, overdoses dropped, as did HIV infection rates and drug-related crime.
The Rat Park
Hari also offers the example of Canadian psychologist Bruce Alexander’s rat experiment. Early drug studies showed that caged rats given a choice between water and heroin-infused water would choose the latter. However, upon reviewing these studies in the late 1970s, Alexander noticed that the rats used in the experiments were placed in small cages alone with only heroin for stimulation. He recreated the experiment but replaced the cages with his now-famous “rat park.” The cage was much larger, with hamster wheels and colored balls to play with, and plenty of food. Additionally, he put rats of mixed gender into the cage rather than isolating one. As a result, the rats were much more interested in communal activities like playing, eating, and mating and ignored the heroin entirely.
Real Courage Means Asking for Help
Connection begins with asking for help. Since 2002, Ocean Recovery has been a beacon for folks struggling with substance use disorder and ready for change. They begin their new lives at our facilities in sunny Newport Beach, California, and begin friendships that will last a lifetime. We offer a holistic, evidence-based approach to addiction treatment. This includes individual and group sessions, cognitive and dialectic behavioral therapies, nutritional therapy, yoga, and more. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or eating disorders, please consider giving us a call today. Real courage means asking for help. Ocean Recovery is ready to answer.