What is effective addiction treatment?
Effective treatment produces these outcomes:
1) Sustained, long term abstinence from drugs and alcohol.
2) Continued growth on a number of different levels (spiritual, emotional, social, etc.).
3) Networking with others in recovery.
4) A natural boost in self esteem and greater care for personal health (again, on a number of different levels).
If your approach to treatment does not address these goals, then you should modify your approach so that you are pursuing holistic health + holistic growth.
The foundation is point number one up above: complete physical abstinence from chemicals. This is the baseline for recovery and is necessary for any of the other outcomes to even become possible. Or, as my friend Bill pointed out, the secret to sobriety is not drinking! He is right of course.
The second outcome listed is about growing in a number of ways. This is particularly important in long term recovery. You aren’t just going to get sober and sit on your couch all day, are you? That’s no kind of recovery. Instead, you might want to push yourself to grow in new directions. For example:
1) Go back to school
2) Start exercising
3) Challenge yourself to stop smoking
4) Join a new organization that needs your help
Those are just some ideas for how to grow as a holistic being. The possibilities are endless.
Now the third outcome of networking with others in recovery is hopefully a product of your early sobriety. You will need strong support in the beginning and if you reach out and connect with others at this time then many of those relationships will survive in to your long term recovery. Strong networking leads to strong recovery.
Now if you are following all of these strategies for recovery then ultimately your outcome will be a natural rise in self esteem (rather than a falsely manipulated boost). When you feel better about yourself you will start taking better care of yourself. Why? Because you will value your life more.
This is self esteem in action. This can then snowball into greater caring for yourself and continued growth, such as with exercise, better diet, renewed enthusiasm for sobriety, and so on.
This whole process that I’ve just described is what I refer to as the creative theory of recovery. It is just a theory because no one follows it as an “official” program of recovery except for me. But I think the ideas still have value and anyone can apply them to their own life if they are seeking to grow in new ways and ultimately take better care of themselves. For me, this has been the path to effective addiction treatment.