Non-standard Treatments for an All Too Standard Problem
Drug addiction is an all too standard problem. Some might even call it a crisis. What makes this modern plague so devastating is the fact that despite our best treatments for individuals, there seems to be no way to stop it from claiming new victims. Anecdotally, the problem seems to be just as bad today as it was twenty years ago, if not worse.
As with the flu, no amount of our best treatments seem to be able to keep next year’s season from being just as bad as this year’s season. That is despite the fact that many people are successfully treated within a given season. Viruses are a systemic part of the ecosystem.
So, too, is drug addiction. No treatment, regardless of how effective it is, can eradicate the flu. And no drug treatment program, no matter how effective, can eradicate drug addiction. For that, we will have to look to non-standard treatments for this all too standard problem.
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Winning the Battle for Racial Equality
You may not realize it. But there is a war going on out there. Dr. King did not win the battle for racial equality. He was brilliant at raising awareness and recruiting people of conscience to enjoin the battle. But the battle for equality never ended, and is far from over.
In Dallas, about 50% of the population are black or Hispanic. That population is almost evenly split between North and South Dallas. South Dallas is home to the ethnic population. Hit hardest by the most recent recession, the south side has almost double the unemployment rate of the north.
Unsurprisingly, the south side is the part with the most obvious and rampant drug problem. As reported by Greenhouse:
They go on to talk about how race plays a role in the addiction cycle:
Compounding the issue for Dallas is “the race factor in the War on Drugs,” in the words of the North Dallas Gazette.4 The Human Rights Watch reported that people of color get arrested for possession three times more than white people, even though more white people consume cocaine than Hispanics or African-Americans (according to a 2011 survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration).
They go on to say:
Public attitudes towards black and white drug users also make a huge difference; white drug offenders, say the Gazette writer, receive compassion, prayer sessions, psychiatric counseling, rehab, and diversionary programs. Black offenders, on the other hand, see mass arrests, prosecutions, and harsh prison sentences.
Clearly, winning the battle for racial equality will play a huge role in the spread of drug addiction. But there are other treatments that can be a part of the solution:
The Sound of Music
There is much research being done in the area of complementary and alternative medical (CAM) practices. The primary focus is art therapy and music therapy in the treatment of drug addiction. Music therapy has been shown to benefit patients in the following ways:
- Songwriting and lyric analysis are associated with positive emotional change.
- Drumming is associated with relaxation, and has proven beneficial for those who relapse.
- Movement to music is associated with decreased anxiety, depression, anger, and stress.
Music therapy is gaining acceptance, even by insurance companies. While not a quick fix. CAM treatment is an option that is increasingly difficult to ignore.
It makes sense that meditation could be a valuable part of an overall treatment program. After all, those who meditate regularly report increased mood, lower anxiety, less pain, even weight loss. Other benefits include help with post-on healing, lower blood pressure, increased blood flow, reduced symptoms of asthma, allergies, and arthritis.
It should come as no surprise that a person struggling with addiction can greatly benefit from a centered and focused mind, emotional expressions stimulated by music and art, and the social acceptance that springs from racial equality. These are not substitutes for established medical treatment. But they can’t be ignored in the search for a long-term, systemic cure.