Once you have taken the next steps towards rehabilitation and recovery, you have officially entered the most important point of healing. Sometimes, a doctor may prescribe types of medications that are specifically designed to help you cope with withdrawal or detox symptoms. For example, you may require harmless relaxants to help you sleep. However, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has recently proposed that medication alone is not a sufficient healing tool. While certain substances have proven to be helpful, NIDA researchers have revealed that the best kind of rehabilitation involves social support and reinforcement. Let’s take a closer look at the study and see why this element of behavioral therapy is so essential for addicts who have just entered the first stages of healing (or recovering addicts, for that matter).

Playtime for Rats

NIDA CONFIRMS THE IMPORTANCE OF SOCIAL REINFORCEMENTSpearheaded by NIDA’s Dr. Marco Venniro, the experiment required rats to have a choice between interactions with other rats or selecting one of two addictive drugs: heroin and methamphetamine. When provided with this option, the rats (incredibly) continuously chose companion rats over drugs. Even more interesting, this choice held true to rats that were introduced to heroin and methamphetamine for the first time and rats that had previously taken these drugs. In other words, first-timers and veteran drug users chose friendship every time.

For the study, researchers utilized a behavioral paradigm mirroring the choices human make. These factors including determination (how hard the rat would work) and endurance (maintaining a path despite punishment via electric shocks). Whether the subjects were isolated or lived in social groups, each one continuously chose friendship over drugs.

Likewise, rats who had previously consumed drugs would often return to these substances after periods of abstinence (similar to a relapse in humans). However, if the rats quit drugs use to spend time with other rats, this incubation of cravings did not take place.

Community Reinforcement Approach (CFA)

NIDA’s study reflects the importance of a behavioral treatment method called the community reinforcement approach (CFA), which focuses on constructing strong social bonds and developing cravings for beneficial activities instead of substances. Similar approaches include cognitive behavioral therapy and AA’s 12-Step Program.

Always remember that drugs and alcohol do not have control over your life. You do. Are you suffering from a substance abuse disorder or addiction? Do you have a friend or family member suffering from one or more of these debilitating illnesses? If you do, get in touch with Asana Recovery today. Our counselors and healthcare experts are ready to walk you through every step of the detox and withdrawal process and rehabilitation and guide you towards living a happier, healthier, and freer lifestyle. While the road to recovery might not be an easy road to travel, we promise to help you every step of the way. Take the first step to stay fit, healthy, and safe.

The time for you to take back control of your life is now. If you are interested in one of our residential treatment or supervised detoxification/withdrawal programs, we are ready and waiting to speak with you at your disclosure. Call Asana now at (949) 438-4504 to learn how to overcome your substance addiction and abuse troubles today.