Tag Archives: disease concept

Mindful Living: A Proposed Relapse Prevention Project

Substance abuse prevention is generally thought to involve primary and secondary prevention strategies which target populations that have either not yet engaged in use of alcohol and drugs (though they may be at risk to do so), or those who are in the very early stages of alcohol and drug use (Wilson & Kolander, 2011). Though efforts to prevent the onset of addiction are important, of equal concern is substance use relapse prevention wherein the stabilization brought about during treatment is preserved, and long-term abstinence is promoted.

Unfortunately, it appears that relapse prevention is often viewed as an afterthought of treatment wherein patients are discharged with little meaningful guidance nor provision of resources to aid them moving forward in recovery (McClellan, Lewis, O’Brien, & Kleber, 2000). As experts in the field continue to acknowledge that addiction is a chronic rather than acute condition, the provision of continuing care for those who have completed treatment must likewise adapt to meet this emerging awareness. To this end, the following substance use relapse prevention project, Mindful Living, is proposed.
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My Personal First Step

In the First Step, despair gives rise to hope.

Today, I take the time to reflect on the First Step and how it applies to my life.  I have often heard in the rooms that the First Step is the most important — and the only one that must be worked to perfection.  As the old saying goes — “this ain’t my first time at the rodeo” as far as trying to recover by working Steps is concerned.  Given that my prior attempts have been unsuccessful in terms of achieving long-term sobriety, I now believe that the importance of the First Step is not underestimated.

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Dr. William Duncan Silkworth, M.D.

Dr. William Silkworth, M.D.

Dr. William Silkworth, M.D.

Born in 1873, Dr. William D. Silkworth, M.D. gaduated from Princeton University in 1896 and earned his medical degree from New York University in 1900.  While in medical school, Dr. Silkworth interned at Bellevue Hospital where he first discovered his passion for treating alcoholics.  Thereafter, he was a member of the psychiatric staff at the U.S. Army Hospital in Plattsburgh, New York during World War I from 1917 to 1919.  He served as an associate physician at the Neurological Institute of Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan from 1919 to 1929 and is believed to have specialized in neurology.  After incurring substantial losses in the stock market crash of 1929, Dr. Silkworth accepted the medical directorship at Charles B. Towns Hospital in New York which specialized in the treatment of alcoholism and drug addiction.

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The Brain Under Siege

According to the World Health Organization, addiction is “a disorder of altered brain function brought on by the use of psychoactive substances.”  Recent advances in neuroscience confirm the conclusion of the World Health Organization that addiction is as much a brain disease “as any other neurological or psychiatric illness.”  These findings have fundamentally changed the way that addiction is viewed in the scientific and medical communities and will have a great impact on how treatment will be approached.

The Human Brain on Methamphetamine

The Yin and Yang of Science, however, demand that dysfunction cannot truly be comprehended without an understanding of normal function.  To this end, Part I of this essay reviews the normal structure and function of the human brain.  Then in Part II, the neurological dysfunction of addiction is explained and supported by compelling scientific evidence.  In the end, there should be no doubt that addiction is indeed a disease like any other and that it must be treated as such.

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