Addressing the Stigma Against Alcohol Detox Medications In Treating Addiction

Addressing the Stigma Against Alcohol Detox Medications In Treating Addiction

If there is one region in the USA that faces a problem with alcohol and drug abuse, it is California. This state has some of the wealthiest and the poorest people living in it, a massive wealth disparity that is one among many contributors to substance abuse.

However, many Californians don’t actively receive the treatment, even with the abundance of treatment centers for addiction. According to a survey, around 8% of Californians meet the criteria for substance abuse, but only a tenth of those affected receive any type of treatment, successful or otherwise.


Substance Abuse Issue in California

California, like many other states and regions, has faced issues related to drug and alcohol addiction. The severity of the problem can vary across different parts of the state and among different demographics, but it is clear that there is a huge problem.

It is also necessary to understand why substance abuse occurs in the first place. While plenty do so due to casual use becoming an addiction, most drug abuse victims are victims, and their substance abuse has a deeper core issue that must be understood, addressed, and alleviated.


The Cracks in the Golden State

Plenty of issues in the state directly relate to why substance abuse occurs–and does so in abundance–in this region. The first among them, which is also not discussed as often, is that California is a huge state in size and population. With roughly 40 million residents, California houses nearly 12% of the entire US population. This alone creates a diverse set of people from various socioeconomic backgrounds being a part of the state. This diversity can also lead to variations in substance abuse patterns and treatment needs.

This factor is critical, not specifically because it causes the other underlying issues, but it significantly exacerbates them and makes it even more difficult to manage something like the extreme wealth disparity that this state holds.


Health & Wealth – An Unfortunate and Unbreakable Link

Economic disparities within the state can affect drug and alcohol addiction rates. High-cost urban areas may see different patterns of substance abuse compared to rural or economically disadvantaged regions.

However, in a market-driven real-estate economy, housing and other basic necessities can also be more of an issue. If more people from varied socioeconomic backgrounds take part, a market-driven economy favors the highest bidder and, therefore, the wealthy residents of California. This can price out regular citizens or even those in the lower classes towards inaccessibility of homes and even lead to homelessness. Homelessness is a huge factor in causing substance abuse, as it can even lead to the individual’s inability to retain their self-control to improve their personal well-being without at least full-time assistance.

Wealth disparity also directly impacts the availability of healthcare, exacerbated by its privatization in the US. The availability of addiction treatment services and mental health care varies across the state. A California addiction recovery center might be affordable to some who can afford healthcare, but not everyone. Some areas may have better access to treatment, while others may struggle with limited resources.


Health Insurance and the Substance Abuse Issue

Access to healthcare directly relates to two things: wealth and insurance. Californians who are wealthy enough to eat up the high cost of healthcare in the US do not necessarily need health insurance, but the greater issue is that health insurance is tied to employment. This creates a huge complication when seeking addiction treatment or even a prescription for alcohol detox medications

Most treatment centers rely on health insurance to help pay for treatment, as most cannot always operate as a charity. However, it is also very likely that most suffering from substance abuse either do not have a job or have lost theirs–and that likeness goes higher with the severity of their addiction. Without health insurance, they might still get some treatment through loans, charity, or other means, but it still creates a huge barrier that bars most people from this basic treatment option.

Limited legal and legitimate methods to seek medication and addiction treatment add even more barriers to alcohol detox medications and other addiction treatment options. This can open up people to seek alternative means for detox and addiction treatment medications, which can increase the risk of black market medications, over-the-counter treatments, and even ineffective or fake treatments.


Medication and Addiction Treatment Options

The effectiveness of alcohol and other detox medications depends on various factors, including the individual’s overall health, the severity of their dependence, and their adherence to the prescribed treatment plan. Detoxification should always be conducted under medical supervision, as withdrawal can be life-threatening in severe cases, and medications help mitigate these risks. Moreover, withdrawal can potentially exacerbate the previous issue of substance abuse and damage the individual’s well-being.

It’s essential for individuals seeking help for alcohol addiction to consult with a healthcare professional or addiction specialist to determine the most appropriate treatment plan, including whether medication-assisted treatment during detox is necessary. Additionally, ongoing treatment and support are crucial for long-term recovery from alcohol addiction. However, such a thing is only possible if the treatment is underway, and it isn’t wise to ignore the barriers that come between seeking treatment, let alone the right one.

Still, most prescribed medications are as follows:

  • Benzodiazepines
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Barbiturates
  • Disulfiram
  • Naltrexone
  • Acamprosate

Different medications have different effects. For example, benzodiazepines are meant to sedate and prevent withdrawal complications. They are also helpful in treating anxiety and other seizures of withdrawal. Some others remove the positive initial effects of substance usage, such as numbness or euphoric high, while others add unpleasant effects after usage so the brain is less eager to get a repeat of that treatment.


The Tragic Irony of Addiction Medication

Despite all the benefits that attaining drug addiction treatment medication brings, even after the barriers to entry are dealt with, there is still the problem that most people do not trust medications in the first place.

One of the most well-documented incidents in the pharmaceutical industry has been the opioid crisis, a crisis that is still going on, according to many. Drug abuse and its negative effects–whether it is a pharmaceutical drug or substance abuse- has gripped almost every US citizen. If someone is a victim of substance abuse, they need to deal with the stigma of suffering through it, and when they cross that barrier, they need to deal with the possibility that the medication they consume might become their next problem drug.

The opioid crisis was caused because certain medications meant to relieve addiction were causing addiction themselves. As patients got more addicted to the drug, they sought more medication, leading to even more issues. From life-changing addiction to mortality and death, the opioid crisis took many lives and changed millions more. However, the larger effect was that it eroded any trust the pharmaceutical industry and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had in the public. They understood that even FDA-approved medication can be inherently harmful.

Concerns about potential side effects or adverse reactions to detox medications can deter people from seeking any medication treatment, whether it is alcohol detox or for other addictions.


Addressing the Stigma of Addiction Medication

Despite all the barriers to entry, trust is one that can be the hardest to solve, especially as it takes time. That’s why addressing the issue of reluctance to seek detox medication involves a multi-faceted approach that encompasses educating people, reducing stigma, increasing access to treatment, and, most importantly, making existing treatments as effective as possible.

The complete erosion of trust caused by the opioid crisis wasn’t in a vacuum but a final nail in the proverbial coffin. Those seeking medication will either not know about the opioid crisis or will be taking a chance based on advice, and since even FDA-approved medication has shown to be harmful, past, present, and future medications can be doubtful for treatment seekers even well after trust has been restored.

Educating the public and raising awareness for their treatment options, potential issues, and how they can attain better well-being is just the start. Stigmas are difficult to deal with, and they cannot be solved by a few treatment centers offering better options, though it does help move towards a more positive outcome. Still, offering better options is preferable to doing nothing, a kind of fact that most people who want to seek treatment but are delaying it need to understand as well.

Getting someone in the door–whether it is a literal door or a metaphorical one, is necessary, but removing any potential barriers after the fact is even more so. Finding a comfortable environment that feels homely is a critical aspect of effective treatment, especially if one wants to remove medication as an important factor of treatment. By doing so, patients can have greater confidence in themselves, which is a huge step towards a positive outcome for both the individual and those providing treatment.


How Kokua Wellness Helps You

Our solution is simply not making medication the only treatment option. We’re based in Ventura County, a region with sunny beaches and an atmosphere where you can truly be home away from home. Our focus is to make your treatment holistic, where we treat the symptoms but also the disease.


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