Almost all addicts have done better when prescribed drugs are combined with psychological and social counseling. Narcotics Anonymous is one of the biggest support groups in the nation. It was inspired by the success of Alcoholics Anonymous. Anyone is able to join a group, meaning it is accessible to anyone who believes they need it (Addiction Center, 2018).
Narcotics Anonymous has two meeting styles, including discussion meetings or speaker meetings (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2018). Discussion meetings model a group discussion, while speaker meetings typically only have one speaker sharing. While sharing is encouraged, it is not enforced. In addition, addicts are encouraged to rely on a higher power to go through recovery with. A higher power can be anything the addict wants it to be; many people say theirs is God (Addiction Center, 2018).
Types of Non-Traditional Treatments
Equine Assisted Psychotherapy
Equine Assisted Psychotherapy has proven effective in addicts, especially youth and adolescent addicts. Addiction affects more than just the body, and in adolescents especially, has major effects on emotional health (National Institute on Drug Abuse, n.d.).
Equine Assisted Psychotherapy focuses heavily on social development, as many adolescents who struggle with drug addiction also struggle with self confidence (Bennington-Castro, 2014). In addition to social development, Equine Assisted Psychotherapy teaches responsibility. Therapists often allow the client to take care of the basic needs of horses, including grooming and feeding. Taking care of something bigger than themself is often both calming and rewarding for clients (Filippides, 2016).
Because it is often difficult for adolescents to bond with a therapist, due to either distrust or defiance, the presence of the horse allows them to connect with the animal in the presence of the therapist (Filippides, 2016). According to the theories of Ivan Pavlov, a physiologist and psychologist widely known for his work in classical conditioning, when the good thoughts are associated with the horse, they will also be associated with the therapist (The Nobel Prize, n.d.). This allows for a connection with both the animal and the person.
While Equine Assisted Psychotherapy has been very successful in alleviating the social effects of opioid addiction, it does not address the physical needs of patients (Foundations Recovery Network, n.d.). Because of this, it is often paired with some type of medication (Filippides, 2016). According to an Eagala study in 2013, children/youth ages 10-18 benefited most among each age group from Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (Eagala, n.d.). This set of data implies that Equine Assisted Psychotherapy may not work well for younger children, but mostly middle and high school students.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is typically used for addicts who started using opioids due to trauma or emotional issues. The process encourages drug addicts to first focus on why they began using drugs (the past), what is causing them to continue to use drugs (the present), and how they can make get out of the situation (the future) (EMDR Institute Inc., n.d.).
Eye Movement Desensitization consists of eight phases per meeting. The beginning phases focus on familiarizing the therapist with the client’s current situation, as well as addressing the stressors that contribute to the situation. The middle phases are when the actual visualizing takes place; the patient focuses on the image, and identifies how it makes them feel both emotionally and physically. The therapist’s job is to assist the patient in creating goals. In the final phases, the client is encouraged to create a log of anything they think might be relevant to the next meeting (EMDR Institute Inc., n.d.).
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing cannot be successful in just one meeting. The patient must be committed for several months for the treatment to be successful. While Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing helps to calm the patient over issues that caused them to start using drugs in the first place, it does not address the actual addiction; for that reason, Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing is often paired with a form of medication (EMDR Institute Inc., n.d.).
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