Endless cycles of chaos…
When chemical dependency becomes an issue, life gets out of hand for the individual and all those with connections to them.
Substances create such powerful sensations in the brain that they take precedence over all other obligations, relationships, desires, interests, and more. Simply put, the brain places such a high priority on substances that individuals act against their own interests and in ways contrary to self-preservation instincts. These can include:
- Spending so much on substances that they can’t afford to pay bills
- Entering dangerous neighborhoods
- Consumption of unknown and dangerous substances/combinations of substances
- Violations of trust
- Criminal activity
- Health consequences
- Social humiliation
- Sexual Acting Out
- Neglect of children
Overall, as substance-related disorders worsen, the consequences become increasingly difficult to solve – leaving family and loved ones frazzled to manage the chaos – only to be re-created again by the suffering person.
Relapse, treatment, readmission, repeat.
The never-ending merry-go-round of treatment becomes tortuous and demoralizing, especially when the same mistakes get repeated so many times.
“Why do I always fall for the same garbage?”
The national anthem of drunks – “I’ll never do that again!” Somehow the illness always crafts some narrative that permits use once again. Typically, the mind tricks a person into confusing symptoms of a problem with the actual problem – loss of control once a chemical is ingested. Some examples of symptoms of the problem include:
“In the past, I struggled with substances because I was self-medicating an anxiety disorder. Now that I’m medicated, I can control my use.”
“I will be alone forever. What’s the point of staying clean?”
“My problem was beer, not pot.”
“The doctor prescribed the medication… So it’s okay.”
“Nobody will know.”
“One more time, and I’ll stop tomorrow.”
“If only everyone would leave me alone. It was never a problem….”
“I don’t even crave anything and haven’t used it in months. Surely I can have a drink.”
The issue with confusing symptoms with the problem is that it doesn’t result in sustainable change. For example, if the person confuses his wife being angry about his drinking with the problem, “Once I start, I can’t stop.” The person will naturally stop drinking, make things better with his wife, then start drinking again, believing that the problem is now solved – “My wife is no longer upset with my drinking.”
Exorbitant sums of money get spent, and each unsuccessful turn of the wheel leads to more and more “learned helplessness.”
It’s a tragedy when treatment becomes the problem.
Residential treatment is a double-edged sword. It’s lifesaving, and… facilities can become enablers, “professional problem solvers” for the chaos produced by chemical dependency.
Instead of clients taking personal responsibility, they get a sense of safety in knowing that they will be able to return to a treatment center, thus permitting themselves to act recklessly. This is a phenomenon that occurs when an individual attends treatment 6, 7, and sometimes 30 times – I prefer to give the benefit of the doubt when I can.
But one must wonder whether financial intoxication impairs the treatment programs’ judgment in repeating the same processes despite any benefit to the client. Ultimately, residential treatment becomes a “spin-cycle” or a “tolerance break.” At times, individuals expect the treatment program to “get me well.” The same way a personal trainer can’t get a person fit, a treatment center can’t keep a person sustainably clean.
I have heard on countless occasions, “I decided that if I use, the worst-case scenario would be that I went back to treatment.”
I’ve seen it all… again and again.
Shame and embarrassment prevent asking for help. Too often, individuals feel as though their issues are “so uniquely horrible” that they justify continuing to suffer in silence. Active use is fraught with examples of “Pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization” AA – Text.
Throughout the years, I have been able to work with a broad spectrum of issues and individuals from all socio-economic classes. Surprisingly, the issues experienced by everyone are more striking in the similarities, not the differences. It’s a refreshing feeling when I get to watch an individual sigh in relief, realizing that they saw their issues as much worse than they thought. Please don’t fall into the trap of judging yourself based on behaviors while under the influence.
Substances are designed to cause people to act in ways that they wouldn’t be able to without them. Take, for example, a person going for surgery. In this circumstance, the right cocktail of medication will allow them to allow strangers wearing masks to cut them open with knives.
One quick question is typically all that is necessary to start healing from shame, “Would you have done this if not using?” If the answer is no, clearly, it does not define the person. The fact that shame exists is evidence the person acted outside their values and morals due to being under the influence of a substance.
Here’s what recovery is… and what it isn’t.
Recovery is a commitment.
Getting sober is like getting married. Marriage doesn’t prevent attraction to other people. Rather, it’s a commitment to one person despite your attraction to others. Recovery is a commitment to sobriety despite any urges to use.
When you commit to letting the urges die… YOU get to live.
Recovery isn’t “feeling like staying sober.”
There’s no easy solution. Anybody who promises one is surely lying. Recovery is not something that happens by itself or is caused by some medication taken regularly. It isn’t just showing up at groups or going to the meetings. It isn’t even admitting the problem. Recovery isn’t throwing out cliché slogans in declaration of 12-step piety.
Recovery is, like mentioned, radical acceptance of the problem and radical ownership of the solution.
Persistent and seasoned in this line of work, I know what you need.
With a keen clinical eye, I can offer you truly individualized care.
Identifying the issues…
What prevented recovery until now? Some ideas include…
- Untreated other issues, such as mental health.
- Stopped being a patient of recovery and got too comfortable.
- Never really understood the problem. “I never really accepted that I actually had to stay abstinent.” (It’s surprising how often this one comes up, typically with those who went to treatment multiple times. Who would have thought they missed the memo after ten treatments, actually not using!)
Targeting what matters…
If living in the solution hasn’t worked because of failing to take responsibility for it, we will work hard at understanding what it means to take responsibility.
If mental health issues block recovery, we will aggressively work toward getting some relief utilizing all safe tools at our disposal.
If it’s a lack of understanding of dependency on substances, we will study and review the illness until the content is mastered.
Learning some new skills can make a big impact. Developing assertive communication and addressing issues as they arise can prevent problems from getting out of hand. During this process, it’s important to stand for getting well – or risk falling for the lies peddled by the sick mind.
Assessing life and learning whether anything needs to change. Toxic work environments, social relationships, managing an unsupportive family – to name a few.
Empowering your recovery…
The solution to powerlessness is power. It’s accessed by adjusting perspectives and behaviors. Working closely together, we can identify where control is lost and find ways to adjust. Understanding that there are always options and choices is critical.
I can’t deny that we are sometimes dealt an unfavorable hand. However, there may be other ways to play it, which works better than pretending or wishing things were different.
Remember, one of the best remedies for suffering is acceptance of reality. That way, it’s not so painful when reality reasserts itself.
Offering you support every step of the way…
Whatever’s needed to support the process, I will be there to assess the issues, make treatment recommendations, and navigate life.
We will work together to find effective ways to return to life as quickly as possible. I will be there the whole time advocating for you, coordinating with treatment programs, and helping clarify the process.
Other possibilities include practicing life skills, working with family members and friends, advocating in legal and educational settings on behalf of the client, and helping with resume and interview skills.
If you or a loved one is lost, consider this your beacon of hope.
I know that chemical dependency treatment fluctuates wildly depending on where you go and whom you see. The industry is nearly impossible to navigate with confidence.
But you don’t have to. I’ve spent years in the residential treatment environment and worked directly with numerous programs. Let me bring all of that experience, learning, and wisdom to YOU.
Whether you’ve been to treatment countless times or are new to the world of recovery, we’re here for you… we’re here to help you find a path forward.
If you feel I’ve earned your phone call, I’d be honored to speak with you about how we can help: (561) 717-3227.