The Tricky Balance that Drug Treatment Programs Try to Achieve

The Tricky Balance that Drug Treatment Programs Try to Achieve


Successful drug treatment programs do 2 things: encourage massive action in the short term, and encourage long term holistic growth.

Not an easy thing to balance.  Most would do well just to incite massive action up front, and hope that people figure out the long term holistic growth thing on their own.

So let’s break this drug treatment program strategy down: why massive action up front, and why long term holistic growth in long term recovery?

Massive action leads to success in early recovery

Nobody gets clean and sober by sitting around and thinking about it.  In fact, thinking is almost completely useless in early recovery.

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“But wait a minute!” you say.  “We have to think in early recovery in order to plan out our actions that will lead us to success, right?”

Um, no.  Actually, thinking is almost always a liability in early recovery.  People who think to much in early recovery get into trouble.  In fact, the favorite saying in traditional recovery is “Our best thinking got us here.”  In other words, our best ideas about how to live a good life ended up in addiction and brought us to a drug treatment program of some sort.  So what makes us believe that we can think our way to healthy living right off the bat in early recovery?

No, what needs to happen is that we need to ask for help, seek direction from others, take advice from other recovering addicts, and so on.

So what is the key to success in this early stage of our recovery?  Take this input from others and act on it.  Take massive action and get out of your own way.  In other words, don’t question the good advice you will surely receive.  Just do it.

Holistic growth is the key to continued success

What about after you have established some sobriety, and are now living in long term recovery?  What happens if life gets stale, and going to 12 step meetings sort of peters out for you?  What then?

Then you need to get busy and start learning and growing and helping others.  Long term growth in recovery is not going to magically keep you happy just by hitting your AA meeting every day.  Real recovery goes far beyond that and it involves continuous, personal growth.

That means expanding beyond the traditional growth patterns in recovery and seeking new types of growth experiences, such as physical fitness, emotional balance, improved relationships, and so on.  This takes work and real sustained effort.  Thus, a good treatment program will somehow instruct addicts to follow through on this type of growth path in long term sobriety.

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