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There are several different types of treatment options for a person with an addiction. One of these is the 12 step philosophy which is used by about 74% of rehabs. The basic idea of the 12 steps is to help people realise they can reach out to other men and women to help maintain a healthy sobriety. To help you understand the value and importance of 12 steps, we’ve broken the methodology down into the basic points and principals.
Acting as a “guideline for a total personality transformation”, the original concept off the 12 step treatment model was developed in 1938. Founder Bill Wilson who had his own bout with alcoholism and had been writing and developing his approach to sobriety which largely consisted of sharing stories with one another. Eventually, he wrote all of his thoughts down into what is now called The Big Book. Acting as a guide for people who could not initially attend the 12 step meetings, this book became a foundation for addiction treatment. It has now been adopted and modified into rehab programmes around the world. In addition to the 12 step AA meetings, there are various offshoots including Narcotics Anonymous and Gamblers Anonymous.
Children as young as 13 are using ice, falling victim to intergenerational drug use. And the damage that ice causes to small communities is clearly illustrated in remote areas of Australia where illegal drugs were once uncommon – in recent years, methamphetamine use in small Australian communities has climbed to 2.5 times that of large cities.
Rural Victoria’s ice problem is an example of how the drug has torn communities apart: ABC reports that ten years ago, Victoria police reported just 135 ice possession busts; that number has climbed to 6,000 this past year. Relatives of addicts are afraid to leave their houses, and those who attempt to address the problem by setting up treatment facilities are the object of anger for attracting addicts to their small towns.
But the stigma around ice use is a barrier that prevents addicts from seeking addiction treatment in Australia. In addition to packed facilities, people struggling with addiction must contend with societal attitudes that label them as weak, lazy and bad people who don’t deserve compassion. Ice addicts in Australia wait an average of ten years to get help. During that decade, they struggle through their daily tasks, which puts all Australians at risk. A recent study by SafeWorks Laboratories found that 240,000 workers in Australia attended work high on ice in 2017, some of whom work in safety-sensitive fields. Workers interviewed recall smoking ice on breaks to stay awake and trying to hide symptoms like paranoia and a lack of concentration.
In the 12 steps, you may hear that healing cannot evolve without surrendering to a higher power. This does not mean “God”, but can be anything which you trust. There are some AA followers who surrender to the fact they can not control their addiction on their own; others surrender to the Universe and some to nature. It’s a common misconception that this higher power has to be religious based; this is simply untrue.
The 12 steps are set on a belief that people can help one another and maintain sobriety from alcohol, drugs or other substances. They do this through meetings, advice and group support. Recently the journal on Addiction Research and Theorystated that abstinence, as promoted by 12 step programs, accounts for what the researchers call “flourishing”. This is in which a person improves their mental health and thereby is more successful with a long term recovery.
Ice, also known as crystal meth, was first produced in the late 1970s. Because it’s easy and cheap to produce, criminal organizations increasingly chose to manufacture crystal meth in the 1980s, and production has only increased since. And though meth is easy to produce, because of its combination of highly volatile chemicals, meth labs are at a high risk of exploding. Street meth is particularly dangerous for drug users because the chemicals it contains vary widely, making it impossible to reliably measure its purity and strength.
There are several variations of the 12 steps; however, the following are those which are outlined in the Big Book and noted on the official AA website.
When users have binged to the point of no longer being able to experience a high, they will enter a phase called “tweaking.” During the tweaking phase, users feel empty and lose their sense of self. They perceive things that aren’t there, including bugs under their skin, which leads to uncontrollable scratching and self-mutilation. Users in this phase are often in a psychotic state characterized by sleeplessness and aggression.
After tweaking (which can last for days), users crash and become immobile. They enter into a deep sleep and wake up days later in the grips of a severe hangover. Exhaustion, dehydration and the need to relieve the symptoms in any way possible often lead to another meth binge.
If someone who has formed a dependency stops using, meth withdrawals will begin to set in. Withdrawal symptoms include intense cravings, the inability to experience pleasure and suicidal thoughts.
Needless to say, this process is agonizing, which is why many habitual users turn to using again to relieve their pain. Meth addiction is an extremely difficult cycle to break, characterised by painful episodes that further incite the addict to continue using.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that short term rehab programs, 1-3 months, based upon a 12 step treatment and follow up 12 step support groups, like AA, helps a person to develop structure and better maintain long term recovery.
Nowadays, it’s common for private rehabs to incorporate 12 step ideas into the program, but not follow each step word for word. The idea behind this is in the hope that people in recovery will continue to be actively engaged in 12 step methodology and support groups when they return home. Rehabs may also use the 12 steps as a foundation because of the sheer amount of results proven research backing this methodology. However, they may eliminate any spiritual aspect of the 12 step program leaving an encompassing model of care.
A person who is high on meth often believes that they are smarter or more productive than others, which leads to aggressive and argumentative behaviour. Meth users can become paranoid and distance themselves from friends and family for long periods of time. While the behavioural effects of meth ultimately depend on the individual, most addicts in the throes of a high lose their grasp on reality and become unaware of how others perceive them.
The mid- to long-term effects of meth use are harrowing. Common signs that a loved one’s meth addiction is spiralling out of control include “meth sores” from picking at imaginary bugs on the skin, rapid weight loss, tooth decay, erratic sleeping patterns and hygiene and personal care issues. Meth use also makes mental health conditions like depression and anxiety much worse, and suicidal impulses among active and recovering meth users are common.
Prolonged meth use causes visible aging, and this process is mirrored within the body. Common ailments among heavy meth users include disease of the brain, heart or lungs; damaged blood vessels and permanent psychological impairment. Additionally, meth users are at risk of contracting HIV and Hepatitis B or C because of the risky behaviours meth fuels.
Long-time meth use also results in financial instability as addicts lose their jobs and attempt to procure the drug by any means necessary, including selling possessions or performing sex work. Some users will even offer up their houses as meth labs in a pinch, which makes homes permanently inhabitable and could result in deadly explosions.
In Thailand, our rehab programme is based upon the 12 steps and combined with other traditional and alternative therapies. Treatment may begin with an initial detoxification which is monitored and guided by medical professionals. Once a person is ready, we’ll begin to implement a structured multidisciplinary programme which will help the individual to build their own foundation of long term recovery. Therapists, counsellors, group sessions and even fitness activities will slowly guide the person through the steps. This will allow them to understand the repercussions of their addiction as well as, gain access into what could be the core reason(s) for using. Towards the end of this Thailand rehab program, individuals will have the knowledge to put everything they have learned into practice, ultimately living a happy, productive life. This innovative approach to addiction treatment allows us to treat the whole person, rather than only the addiction.There is no pharmaceutical antidote, so the best thing to do is to call 911 if you suspect an overdose. Common signs to looks for include seizures, paranoia, trouble breathing, loss of consciousness, agitation and chest pain. If you or a loved one is experiencing these symptoms, seek emergency care immediately.