I know that my question is not on a topic that you normally write about, but I am a dedicated follower of your articles and I wanted to get your opinion. I am amazed by all of the negative remarks surrounding Whitney Houson's tragic death simply because she had a drug problem. I have many friends who have suffered for years with drug addiction. A dear friend of mine after years of recovery and relapse, has finally kicked the habit for good and has been clean for 8 years. She credits her sobriety more to switching to a natural lifestyle than to the treatments she received during her 3 stays in recovery centers. What are your thoughts on this? Could Whitney Houston have been saved by natural treatments? Do you believe there are natural ways to break from drug addictions that may be more effective than traditional treatment centers? I am a huge advocate for natural health but I also feel that some things are best left to conventional medicine, and I think drug addiction is one of them.
Zoe L, Raleigh NC
Thank you for your question. Although the topic of drug addiction is not my area of expertise, I will do my best to answer your question relying on my knowledge of natural health in general.
First, you are right that there are some things which are best left to conventional methods. Allopathic medicine has a very important place in our society. With that being said, I can not think of many situations in which conventional treatments would not benefit from the use of complementary alternative and natural methods to create an integrative approach to healing and wellness. Whether suffering from a common cold or cancer, I have no doubt that natural methods can help improve overall health and increase overall well being in patients. As more is learned about the benefits of alternative medicine, many mainstream physicians are embracing the belief that non-traditional natural methods can safely be used to compliment traditional treatments in most health care settings.
The term 'natural methods' is vague and can encompass everything from simple techniques such as eating a healthy diet and taking vitamin supplements to more invasive treatments such as hyperbaric oxygen treatments and chelation detoxification therapy.
Drug addiction is highly complex and involves much more than simply physical addiction. Individuals suffering from the condition, therefore, require a more complex approach than simply treating physical symptoms. Psychological, physiological and emotional issues must also be addressed when attempting to treat physical dependencies.
The problem with conventional treatments for drug addiction is the use of additional drugs to eliminate addictions and control detoxification and withdrawal symptoms, as well as drugs to control the anxiety that individuals often experience when trying to break drug addictions. It has been reported that Xanax and Valium were found in Whitney Houston's hotel room. This is an example of how the drugs administered to patients to break addiction to illegal drugs often result only in an addiction to legal drugs.
There is not a lot of research available on natural drug addiction treatments so it is impossible to say if Whitney Houston and others who suffered a similar fate may have been saved by natural methods. What I can say is that an explanation of the benefits of living a natural lifestyle along with a detailed introduction to natural methods that can help treat drug addiction and the symptoms of withdrawal is an important step in the drug treatment process and should be implemented into all treatment programs. Offering simple methods such as relaxation techniques, meditation, massage therapy, music therapy, light therapy, acupressure, deep breathing exercises and many others can not only help calm the patient, but can also boost endorphins and provide temporary euphoric feelings. In addition, the use of specific herbs, homeopathic remedies and other natural substances may complement conventional treatment methods.
To say that natural methods should replace medical addiction treatment programs is a long shot. However, recent research suggests that there are promising natural treatments on the horizon in the form of plants, herbs and other natural substances that have shown remarkable results in individuals suffering from drug addiction. See this article from Fox News regarding specific natural substances that have a high success rate in treating addiction http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/07/25/psychedelics-for-drug-addiction/
Drug addiction, like many other conditions, is a highly personal experience. Recovery rates will depend not only on the treatment received, but on the will of the individual suffering from the condition. Natural treatments and alternative methods can be used to help break addictions and manage associated symptoms. As with most conditions, the support of family and friends is one of the most important aspects of the treatment and recovery process.
Email your health questions to Delialah Falcon at firstname.lastname@example.org