Derived from the derived from a Latin term for “enslaved by” or “bound to,” addiction is a physical and a mental dependence on a substance or an activity. With 40–60% relapse rates common in addiction recovery, there is no doubt that battling addiction is an uphill task. Marked by compulsive substance abuse, addiction is experienced by over 15.3 million people worldwide. With drug abuse reaching epidemic levels and addiction rates hitting an all-time high, the traditional addiction recovery systems have taken a back seat, giving way for the invention and use of newer, modern, and more effective systems. And here are some of them.
1. Mindfulness Training
The practice of mindfulness among addicts helps cultivate a sense of awareness and reduce the chances of relapse. It enhances cognitive function and decreases anxiety and addiction-related eating disorders. Mindfulness training, or Mindfulness-based relapse prevention (MBRP), helps substance users recognize the triggers that cause a relapse and coaches them to overcome it.1
Studies note that MBRP can effectively supplement and enhance the efficacy of existing treatments for individuals with substance use disorders.2 It has also been observed that MBRP can change the mechanisms involved in self-control, thus reducing incidents of relapse. Overall, several studies agree that the training can substantially reduce substance and alcohol addiction.3
2. Anti-Drug Vaccines
Similar to how a regular vaccine works, anti-drug vaccines boost your body’s “immunity” to a certain drug, thus reducing your chances of being addicted to it. If a person takes an anti-drug vaccine, antibodies are formed in his blood. If the person subsequently uses the drug after being vaccinated, the antibodies that have been produced stop the components of the drug from reaching the brain and other organs. They also reduce the effects (or the “high”) that these drugs are known to cause.4
Although anti-drug vaccines have been in use since the 1970s, the modern forms of these vaccines are believed to be more effective. Currently, there are vaccines available for nicotine, cocaine, meth, morphine, and heroin. One study noted that urine samples collected from cocaine-users post vaccination suggested a drop in cocaine consumption. However, the results were not consistent. The development of anti-drug vaccines is, thus, still a work in progress.5 6
3. Mobile Applications
Mobile applications can be of great help when it comes to drug addiction recovery. Experts believe that instant messaging or discussions on popular social media platforms can reduce chances of relapse. The available social support, along with a chance to discuss the effects of drug abuse, could be the reason why mobile applications help battle addiction.
In a study, a group of participants (who were already undergoing recovery treatment) were given regular reminders on these applications to help them keep up their abstinence. They also attended a 2-month online discussion program on smoking cessation. The results revealed that a significant number of participants who received alerts and reminders on the instant-messaging application reported a drop in relapse rate.7 Certain studies also observe that these applications are most effective when the discussions conducted hold no judgment or stigma toward the substance user.
Today, several mobile or web-based applications and discussion groups work solely toward promoting sobriety and treating addiction. The strong peer network built on these applications allow the substance-addict to identify and avoid triggers for relapse.
Other Recovery Programs
Other forms of drug addiction recovery programs include the following
- HALT: This recovery system believes that addiction can be fought by managing its withdrawal symptoms – hunger, anxiety, loneliness, and tiredness.
- Sober living communities that encourage abstinence and help avoid relapse.
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy: This recovery system alleviates the distress that may have led to coping mechanisms like drug abuse.
- helps fight substance use disorders by alleviating the distress caused by traumatic memories and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Motivational therapies
- Art and music therapy
Most modern addiction recovery systems are still in their nascent stage. However, experts believe that there is some promise in the pace at which these systems are developing and conclude that addiction recovery is soon going to become a less rocky path.
|↑1||Management of substance abuse. World Health Organization.|
|↑2||Bowen, Sarah, Katie Witkiewitz, Seema L. Clifasefi, Joel Grow, Neharika Chawla, Sharon H. Hsu, Haley A. Carroll et al. “Relative efficacy of mindfulness-based relapse prevention, standard relapse prevention, and treatment as usual for substance use disorders: a randomized clinical trial.” JAMA psychiatry 71, no. 5 (2014): 547-556.|
|↑3||Tang, Yi-Yuan, Michael I. Posner, Mary K. Rothbart, and Nora D. Volkow. “Circuitry of self-control and its role in reducing addiction.” Trends in cognitive sciences 19, no. 8 (2015): 439-444.|
|↑4||Dr. Thomas Kosten Q & A: Vaccines To Treat Addiction. National Institute of Drug Abuse.|
|↑5||Kinsey, Berma M., Thomas R. Kosten, and Frank M. Orson. “Anti-cocaine vaccine development.” Expert review of vaccines 9, no. 9 (2010): 1109-1114.|
|↑6||Kinsey, Berma. “Vaccines against drugs of abuse: where are we now?.” Therapeutic advances in vaccines 2, no. 4 (2014): 106-117.|
|↑7||Cheung, Yee Tak Derek, Ching Han Helen Chan, Chi-Keung Jonah Lai, Wai Fung Vivian Chan, Man Ping Wang, Ho Cheung William Li, Sophia Siu Chee Chan, and Tai-Hing Lam. “Using WhatsApp and Facebook online social groups for smoking relapse prevention for recent quitters: A pilot pragmatic cluster randomized controlled trial.” Journal of medical Internet research 17, no. 10 (2015).|