There are a number of reasons why addiction treatment will never be perfect. I think to some extent the world is hoping for a cure that might never materialize. The big pharmaceutical companies of today are racing to find medications that can curb or cure addiction. But to be honest I do not think that is going to happen. There are a number of reasons for this, and the biggest one is that some people are simply programmed to self-destruct. While there may be a way out of this, I seriously doubt that the answer lies in the form of medication.
At any rate, I don’t think the addiction treatment process will ever be perfect. That is okay though as long as people realize this limitation and attempt to work around. In other words, don’t expect a cure when what you really need to focus on his hard work and commitment.
The biggest barrier by far to successful treatment: lack of surrender
In my experience, the biggest barrier to successful treatment is a lack of surrender. This was true for me when I was living in long-term treatment and I noticed that many of my peers would relapse on a regular basis. The issue was not a lack of support, because they were living in a treatment center. Really, when you get down to it, there is no excuse for relapse when you are living in rehab. This is just unacceptable.
Looking back now, I know the reason that these people relapsed when they did. It was not for lack of support, instead it was a lack of surrender. Their problem was that they never fully surrendered to the disease of addiction. They were not done drinking or using drugs.
No matter what developments are made in the field of addiction recovery, there is always going to be the issue of surrender. You can force a person to go to treatment, but you cannot force them to engage with the help they are receiving. If they don’t want to get better then they are not going to get any better. I think we all know and realize that. But modern medicine sort of has this hope that we can find a way to motivate people to want to change. But if we are honest with ourselves, then we will realize that this motivation must come from within.
There is no cure for self destructive or self defeating behavior
If someone wants to self-destruct and they are using alcohol or drugs to do it, there is very little that we can do to stop them. Even if they reach a breaking point due to the consequences they are experiencing, this may not be enough for them to embrace a new life in recovery. There are many obstacles to overcome in the process of sobering up. It is a crushing blow to the ego just to surrender and walk into a treatment center. Many struggling addicts and alcoholics will never reach this point, and of those who do many will still relapse in the future anyway. Sometimes it takes more than one try to get clean and sober.
If there was a way to create motivation for sobriety then addiction and alcoholism would not be the difficult problems that they are. But the real challenge with addiction is for the individual to reach a point of total surrender. They have to get to a point where they are so miserable that they are willing to try anything in order to avoid the pain of addiction. It is rare for a person to reach this point, and when they do, they must then ask for help. After asking for help, they then have to follow through and take positive action in their life. That is a lot of steps for someone to take who is trying to get over and addiction.
Even a miracle pill is no cure for someone who wants to escape from reality
Even if they invent a medication that can treat addiction or alcoholism, would such a pill really be enough to prevent someone who wants to escape from reality?
In my opinion, any new treatment program is going to have to involve personal growth and is serious effort to improve your life situation.
Think about it for a moment: if you are new in recovery and your life is not getting any better, then what are you going to do in the long run? Of course you know how to have fun and relieve stress in the short term: you use your drug of choice. If recovery is not working out for you, then eventually you will revert back to your old ways.
Therefore, you must strive to make positive changes in your life. This is the only way that you’re going to be able to endure a lifetime of sobriety: if things are getting continuously better. If your life is boring, or worse, miserable, then you are certainly not going to stay clean and sober in the long run. Your drug of choice is always going to be there as a temptation if your life is not getting better. The only way to overcome that temptation in the long run is to continuously improve your life by taking positive actions.
Addiction and alcoholism can be extremely complex conditions
When I was early in my own recovery, I was attending AA meetings on a regular basis. In those meetings, I heard many people try to explain that “this is a simple program.” In fact, I heard this theme over and over again. People in recovery want very much for the solution to be simple. I think this has to do with fear. If the solution is complicated then that can be intimidating for many people in recovery. So if you go to AA, you will hear many people try to convince you that the solution is simple.
I have found in the last 12 years of my sobriety, that the solution is anything but simple. Addiction and alcoholism are actually very complicated. Out of all of the people that I have met in my journey, almost all of them have additional issues that accompany their addiction. So the problem is almost never one-dimensional. There are layers of complexity that make the addiction problem unique.
But the illusion persists out of fear because people want for the solution to be simple and straightforward. They don’t want to be told that they might have to think for themselves in order to remain sober. They want a simple solution.
When I was working in a drug rehab center I started to learn that addiction was more complicated than I initially believed. This is because I came into contact with so many struggling addicts and alcoholics who had many complicated issues. For some of these people, programs like AA and NA were enough to recover. But for others, those programs were not enough to address all of their problems. Some people just need more help than others.
The scary thing is that I have met many people in AA and NA who insist that this is not true; and that anyone should be able to recover simply by following their “simple program.”
I do not believe that addiction treatment will ever be simple, straightforward, and anything like a universal cure. The reason I say this is because I worked in a treatment center for several years and I saw how complicated addiction really could be.
Even long term treatment has a relatively low rate of success because of these issues
As I mentioned, I used to live in long-term rehab. While I was living there, I was amazed at the level of support and therapy that I was receiving. I was shocked to discover that the success rate in long-term rehab is not much better than that of short-term treatment. It took me a long time to figure out why this was the case.
The core issue with success in recovery has to do with surrender. Many people who check in to a long-term treatment center are not actually looking to change their life. They are looking for a place to crash or a place to dry out. Of course there are exceptions, but most of those exceptions would also do well in short-term treatment.
It all has to do with the level of surrender. Those who are truly willing are much more likely to follow through and take positive action on a consistent basis. Just being willing to check into long-term treatment is not enough. You really have to be miserable and want to change your life at any cost. Most people who believe they have reached a state of surrender are not actually at their rock-bottom. I know many people who have been to long-term treatment several times.
Even though rehab is not perfect, it is still the best option for most people
Addiction treatment may not be perfect, but it is still better than all of the alternatives. Some people will attempt to change their life by going to counseling or individual therapy sessions. But in my opinion this is not enough to help and addict or alcoholic who is truly desperate. Those who are facing a tough addiction are going to benefit tremendously from inpatient care.
Other people will try to get clean and sober simply by attending twelve-step meetings. This may work for some, but it is definitely not a perfect solution, and I would honestly not recommend it to anyone. While there is nothing wrong with attending meetings necessarily, I feel that most addicts and alcoholics need the controlled environment that they will get from inpatient rehab.
Going to detox and short-term treatment is not a magic cure, and I don’t think it ever will be. But this should not stop you am seeking treatment if you are struggling with addiction or alcoholism.
One of the things that I have learned in my recovery journey is that almost no one sobers up perfectly on their first try. Nearly everyone that I have spoke with has had to try at least three times to get clean and sober. For some people, this meant several trips to a treatment center. For others, it may have meant that they sobered up on someone’s couch, and then started attending AA meetings. But whatever the case, I have met almost no one who has been able to get sober successfully on the first try. I think there is a learning curve that everyone has to go through.
Part of that learning curve has to do with how we estimate our own abilities. At first, nearly every person will overestimate their ability to get sober while also underestimating the power of their addiction. This is such a universal trait that I almost do not even notice it anymore when it comes to newcomers who are attending treatment for the first time. Perhaps I am bitter, but I can easily size up a newcomer in treatment who just doesn’t have a clue about how much effort it takes to really change their life. I have seen this over and over again because I worked in a treatment center for several years.
So it is not shocking to me that someone would have to go to treatment several times in order to realize just how big of a commitment it is going to take. The more I think about this, the more I realize that these initial failures may be a necessary component to the recovery process. I hope that this is not the case, and that science, medicine, or new treatment programs can prove me wrong in the future. But for now I do not think that most experts would disagree with me. This is especially true if those experts have worked for several years in an addiction treatment center.
Having said all of that, I don’t think that anyone should plan to have to go to treatment several times. If you have the right attitude and you take positive action then there is no reason that you cannot succeed in your sobriety on the first try. It is a rare occurrence but people make it happen every day. By the numbers, most people have to try a few times. But if you are really determined and you have reached a point of total surrender then you should have no problem in staying clean and sober. Of course it is all based on how much action you take and how willing you are to follow through with your new commitment.
I think that most people who attend treatment for the first time do not have the right attitude. They go into it thinking that it is a cure for addiction, when in fact it is really a new lifestyle that they must adopt for themselves. What they had hoped would be a simple transition in their life is actually one of the biggest changes that any person could ever make. The challenge of overcoming an addiction requires a massive amount of commitment, action, and personal growth. Anyone who relapses has either failed to surrender fully, or they have failed to put in the necessary amount of action.
Those are really the only two problems that you could ever encounter in addiction recovery: failing to surrender completely, and failing to embrace personal growth. Those are the two problems that lead people to relapse. The lack of surrender trips people up in early recovery, and the lack of personal growth trips people up in long-term sobriety. Both problems can be assisted by people who are willing to go to treatment, learn from what they are taught there, and apply those concepts in their daily life. This is about following through. Those who fail to follow through with what they have learned are not likely to stay clean and sober in the long.
If you have been sitting on the fence in terms of going to rehab, I would encourage you to take the plunge, reach out, and ask for help. You cannot get clean and sober in less you ask for help. This is obvious to anyone who is tried to do it on their own and failed repeatedly.
Inpatient treatment may not be a universal cure, but it is certainly better than nothing, and you have nothing to lose by trying. The alternative to getting clean and sober is a lifetime of chaos and misery. There is no way to put a price on sobriety when you weigh it against this lifetime of misery.
I personally went to several therapists and then attended three treatment centers before I managed to overcome my addiction. After experiencing the last 12 years of sobriety, I can now see the true value in treatment. Based on my last 12 years, there is no way to put a price on the benefits that I have received after becoming clean and sober. Had I known just how good my life would be today, I would have been willing to pay 10 times more for the treatment I received.
They have a saying in recovery: if nothing changes, nothing changes. This may sound a bit simple but it contains an important truth: if you never ask for help or go to treatment your chances of finding a new life of happiness are slim to none. Take action. Do something to try to move closer to sobriety. If you are not in a state of surrender, then start to keep track of just how happy you are on a daily basis so that you can break through your own denial. If you keep telling yourself you are happy when you are actually miserable then you will never take the steps that you need to take in order to get clean.
When I finally attended treatment for the third time, my life changed forever and I have remained clean and sober for the last 12 years. Had I not been willing to give treatment another chance, I may never have experienced this new life in recovery that has been so good to me.
I would hate for you to miss out on the opportunity of living a joyous life of sobriety. Going to treatment may feel like a risk, but in reality there is only potential upside for you, and very little downside.
How to ask for help
My belief is that there is a right way and a wrong way to ask for help.
Start with your immediate family. Ask them to find you professional treatment services. If they are not willing to do this then you need to seek help elsewhere. Your goal should be to get into an inpatient rehab facility. This is typically a funding issue. If you do not have insurance or piles of money laying around it is still possible that you can receive treatment. The key is to call up treatment centers and ask questions. They genuinely want to see you get help and will usually refer you to someone who can get you the help that you need.
Therefore, if your friends and family are not willing to find treatment for you, then you must do it yourself. Get on the phone and call up local treatment centers in your area. They should be able to help you to secure funding and get the help that you need. If they cannot do this, politely ask them if they know of anyone else you can call. Don’t get off the phone until you have found someone who can help you.
Addiction treatment may not be a perfect cure, but it is usually the best course of action for most people who are struggling. I highly recommend that you seek out professional treatment services.