It seems today that there are more people abusing prescription medications than illicit drugs. As parents, we are told with national advertisements to hide our medications and keep them out of our children’s reach. Countless news articles mention school shootings and the connection between violence and these meds. These meds which are kept in a locked box in pharmacies, which we are told to keep away from our children and which say can cause a laundry list of side-effects including anxiety, violence, seizures and even suicidal thoughts and tendencies.

I unfortunately ran into a similar problem trying to find a good drug treatment program for my brother. He was a heroin user, and every drug rehab program we sent him to sat for a few minutes with him and then prescribed a drug or two, or three.

Drug and alcohol addicts, especially opiate addicts, have extremely uncomfortable withdrawals thus creating a high necessity for continued use. Thus, upon withdrawal the addict will do anything to get more of the substance he/she is abusing–he will be far more immoral due to this high need for the foreign substance. An addict’s actions on this basis could be criminal, violent or promiscuous. But remove drugs from the picture (and consequently the withdrawals) and you remove the necessity for use, and therefore the necessity for such immoral behavior. The American system has so tangled mental health with drug and alcohol abuse reform that these behaviors–which are distinctly connected to drug abuse and are mostly illegal–are now classified as “mental illness.” But if you remove drugs from the picture, the individual will not have such criminal or insane tendencies.

Underneath the drugs and alcohol was a REASON my brother began his path as a substance abuser. We wanted him to explore that for himself instead of receiving a band-aid or quick-fix. It made no sense to me that further drugs were going to fix the problem. I saw people turn into zombies from these drugs and become completely dependent on them and even physically unable to withdrawal from them without experiencing symptoms worse than from street drugs.

So what can I suggest to other parents, sisters, brothers, children or friends who have a loved one abusing drugs? Sure, you can try the “dual-diagnosis” route. But you will end up with the same problem, unfixed, and a new type of drug dependency. My brother was never mentally ill. He was a drug addict, and the drugs changed who he was and how he acted. This made him look mentally ill. Someone coming off of meth can appear to be a paranoid schizophrenic, but this is due to the meth. This is a mental and physical reaction and symptom of WITHDRAWAL. Not mental illness.

The best program I found, and the one which has had my brother now 8 years clean and sober, was one which focused on individualized, in-patient and long-term treatment. No drugs. Only vitamins and minerals, exercise and homeopathic remedies. The program allowed him to sweat out the drugs (which were acting as poisons in his body) and make a fresh start. He no longer stands on a crutch. He depends on his own innate abilities. He is physically clean and mentally clear.

There’s an old school of thought which teaches that all of what man needs to survive is within him. Today, we live in a “Now Society.” You have chronic migraines? Take a Tylenol. You want to lose weight? Try the latest diet pill. You’re abusing drugs and alcohol? Trade off your dependencies with a convenient tablet. The best advice I could give anyone searching for the right drug rehab program is to find one who supports the idea of getting to the root of the problem. Even a drug addict has all the happiness he will ever find within him.