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A study dating back to the 1970’s explains how changing an addict’s environment can help them overcome addiction and avoid relapsing.
The study, which was heavily contested in its time, is now regarded as significant to current concepts about how we can change behaviours and how addiction can be cured.
The study we are referring to, was conducted in the early 1970’s and involved soldiers in the Vietnam war who were returning home to the U.S.
At the time, about 20% of these soldiers were addicted to heroin, which as you can imagine was an extremely troubling statistic for many Americans.
In addition, this statistic was also a concern for President Nixon, who in response, established the Special Action Office for Drug Abuse Prevention.
The Special Action Office was allocated funds for prevention, drug rehabilitation, and for studies which observed what happened to the heroin addicted soldiers once they returned to the U.S.
The researchers who were assigned the task of examining the soldiers, learnt that nearly 20% self-reported being heroin addicts.
Upon these findings, each enlisted soldier returning home was then subjected to heroin addiction testing.
Those soldiers found to be abusing heroin were kept in Vietnam, to get sober before returning to the U.S.
However, upon their return, researchers discovered that only about 5% of the addicted soldiers relapsed once they were back in the U.S.
The percentage was surprising to researchers, because heroin addiction relapse rates among treated addicts within the U.S are much higher.
The results were deemed flawed and for decades, the research results were disregarded.
During this time, experts believed that changing behaviours could be achieved by simply changing attitudes.
Today, research shows that although this may be true for occasional behaviours, it cannot be said for those that are deep-seated.
The same applies to addiction.
Our current understanding of how behaviours develop into routines and how we can change them explains the results of the Vietnam study.
The addicted soldiers could abstain from heroin abuse because they were removed from the environment in which they had once abused the drug.
While in Vietnam, soldiers were subjected to horrific surroundings and situations, which inevitably led them to addiction and their need to “escape”.
But once they had returned home, their surroundings improved, and they were once again surrounded by positivity and their need to “escape” fell away.
However, the same cannot be said for those trying to quit substance abuse in the U.S, because they are not removed from their environment.
The environment in which you find yourself, as well as the environment that you have created to support your addiction, plays heavily on your ability to recover. So often, addicts become addicts because they are subjected to negative influences and environments.
How can you expect to recover when you still surround yourself with people using drugs? How can you expect yourself to recover when you are still in the same environment that brought you to addiction?
Recovery means actively making a change in your life. It means removing yourself from testing, negative situations and environments, and saying good-bye to friends who you once used with.
Learned behaviours, such as addiction, can be changed with the right addiction treatment and environmental factors.
Addiction treatments often offer patients a one size fits all type of remedy, which is problematic and terribly blinkered.
Step Away Alcohol and Drug Rehabilitation Centre, offers a different take on addiction and how to approach treating it.
Additionally, our residential treatment facility provides a safe, ‘removed’ environment, where you can reconnect with the person you were before your addiction. It also gives you the space to identify and address the issues and influences that brought you too us.
Our approach to addiction is based on treating the factors that caused your addiction in the first place. Unlike other rehabs, which only treat the actual usage of a substance and believe that staying sober is all it takes to recover.
Although, we do offer drug and alcohol detoxification in some cases, it is just one of the factors that recovery entails.
Your life is the result of the choices you make, if you don’t like your life it is time to start making better choices.
We’ve been where you are today, and although the journey to recovery seems unmanageable, it is possible, all you need to do is take the first step.
For more information about our rehabilitation centre, please contact us.
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