PATIENT QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Q: What is addiction?
Addiction can be defined as a complex, chronic brain disease marked by compulsive substance use and impaired behavior, including an inability to maintain relationships, take care of obligations at work, school or home, and to exert self-control. People with addiction focus on using certain substances, or engaging in certain behaviors, even when the consequences may be harmful to them.
Addiction itself is the result of the brain’s Reward Pathways, tied to meeting evolutionarily-determined needs (notably, the drive for food, sex, friendship, and novelty), being hijacked by chemical substances or behavioral stimulants. When an addicted person uses drugs or engages in certain acts, the body secretes serotonin, GABA, dopamine, norepinephrine, and other neurotransmitters, which gives the person a pleasurable feeling based on the experience, reinforcing the behavior. What once was a natural survival mechanism, instead, has resulted in unhealthy dependencies.
When people manipulate their Reward Pathways the brain can become desensitized to the stimulant so that more of the drug, or behavior, is required to experience the reward—to achieve the same “high.” Soon they may not even be able to derive any positive feelings with their next “hit,” now just trying to avoid withdrawal symptoms, such as cramps, nausea and vomiting. An example might be the alcoholic who drinks a six pack in the morning just “to feel normal.” This situation can quickly lead to a destructive downward spiral for individuals with substance and behavioral abuse issues, is hard on family and friends, and almost impossible to correct without professional help.
Q: How is your treatment approach any different? Any better?
Currently, most addiction programs deal mostly with the mental, spiritual and social aspects of addiction but don’t address the underlying biology causing “use” dependencies. The current standard of care recommends abstaining from the drug(s) or the behavior(s) for an arbitrary amount of time, go through counseling and therapy, and then hope for the best outcome once treatment is finished. The problem with this is that the brain likely is still deficient as to its neurochemical signaling ability, suffering from inadequate numbers of neurotransmitters. The human body is fine-tuned and competition for resources is extreme. Once in a state of imbalance (essentially, “out-of-whack”), and thus not functioning properly, it’s near impossible to consume enough (and the right) nutrients to get the brain the necessary amino acids to restore it to a natural state. This is the central reason why infused and oral Amino Acid Therapy, a key component of Our 3-Step Approach, is crucial to enabling recovery from addiction.
Q: What is Amino Acid Therapy? Why is it a treatment emphasis of yours?
Maintaining balance between the mind and the body is integral to good health. Any number of chemical intolerances, sensitivities and deficiencies, however, can contribute to imbalances in the brain that negatively affect mood and behavior and result in improper neurotransmitter functioning. Food choices, including digestion and absorption issues, may also lead to mind-body dysfunction due to what’s known as the Gut-Brain axis.
These imbalances and deficits, which may be hereditary (40% to 60% of a person’s innate vulnerability to addiction is related to genetic factors), can trigger addiction—an excessive or inordinate reliance on external things to feel positive about oneself and to gain pleasure from life.
While changes to diet and nutrition can help stabilize mental and physical well-being, and are mainstays of recovery programs, Amino Acid Therapy has been shown to powerfully curb unhealthy habits, especially at the outset during early treatment phases. Amino acids are the central building blocks of neurotransmitters (e.g., serotonin, adrenaline, dopamine, GABA, etc.), which directly influence behavior. Without first reinvigorating the body so it can restore proper functioning of neurotransmitters, other addiction recovery interventions and treatments will be less effective, and the results shorter-lived.
Studies show supplementing the body with amino acids restores natural neurotransmitter production. The most successful therapy is a 10-day course of amino acids administered via infusion followed by a long-term course of oral amino acids. By flooding the body with amino acids via an initial “cleansing” process, cravings and withdrawal symptoms tend to subside, clarity of thought is restored. Once mind and body are functioning better—the psychological and the physical in balance, neurochemical cascades aligned and acting in unison—patients can engage more fully in the recovery process.
Q: I’m thinking of becoming a patient. What can I expect?
Our office staff will conduct a brief 15-minute conversation with you to determine which of our services are the best fit given your background, life situation and care needs. During this initial intake process, you will be asked: about your substance use background, and other potential addictions; to provide a basic medical and psychological history; current family and social situation; whether you are experiencing symptoms and when was the last time you used. A visit will then be scheduled. Additional testing, along with treatments, may then be recommended. Through these efforts, our overall goal is to diagnose and treat—accurately and effectively—the underlying causes of addiction so that progress can be made toward a full recovery.
Q: How quickly can you schedule my initial visit? How long will it take?
The length of your first appointment can range anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. This gives us sufficient time to assess your treatment needs and devise a custom care plan going forward. A new patient enrollment form can be completed either in-person or online before your initial visit.
Q: Will the information I provide be kept confidential?
All personal and medical information is held in strict confidence. We understand the utmost care with which such information must remain protected.
Q: Can you guarantee I will recover from my addiction? How long will it take for me to get better?
Having witnessed patient after patient recover from addiction, we are confident in our innovative treatment approach. Our therapeutic strategy successfully combines the best parts of traditional and complementary medicine and positive psychological strategies to address the underlying biology, trauma, and/or mental health issues that may be driving the addiction.
Our inpatient program lasts approximately 30 days, with the first 10 days medically-focused (e.g., IV Amino Acid Therapy, nutritional adjustments, etc.). The next 20 days of treatment comprise intensive psychological work, nutritional training, as well as individual counseling and cognitive therapy.
Our outpatient program includes 10 days of out-patient IV Amino Acid Therapy followed by 5 days of intensive psycho-social therapy.
When participating in our outpatient program, we then provide a long-term, 6-month recovery plan. We can also offer support beyond that, for as long as needed, depending on individual care needs—there with our patients, step-by-step, day-by-day, toward achieving a full recovery.
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