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We use medications to detox for safety reasons and for the comfort of the patient. I believe that when patients come for treatment in any drug-rehab program, they’ve suffered terribly and they’ve suffered enough. My agenda involves keeping them as comfortable as possible. Detox is always uncomfortable and so part of the reason behind using these medications is to make their detox less uncomfortable and give them a little more peace of mind.
The other part is safety because some of the drugs that people are physiologically dependent on, if they are stopped abruptly, can cause serious health problems and even death. So, for instance, if somebody comes in having been drinking a fifth of vodka a day, we want to bring them down off of that pattern in a slow and kind of gradual fashion in order to avoid not only discomfort by a phenomenon like seizures and strokes from the greatly elevated blood pressure. So we use these medications for legitimate medical reasons in the detox process. The other question is, “Do we maintain people on these medications?” Not on the habit-forming drugs.
When people come in and they’re being prescribed a benzodiazepine like Valium or Xanax or they’re being prescribed opiates like Loritab and Norco, hydrocodone or even more potent opiates, our agenda is to move away from the habit-forming drugs and try to address whatever health problem that they’re having with other medications if necessary. The other part of treatment, in my mind, is to begin to teach people that living life on life’s terms means going without drugs for every physical sensation that they don’t like, and so we try to move them in the direction of finding a better nutritional approach, better overall health approaches with exercise and a proper sleep and wake pattern. We try to move people away from the notion that chemicals are going to solve most of their problems.