Someone asked me the other day: “What treatment for drug abuse can help me the most to recover and stay clean and sober?”
It’s a good question because most people only have a vague understanding of treatment services and how they might work for addiction and alcoholism.
So there are all sorts of different levels of treatment and different services that might help someone. Let’s consider a few of them:
1) Counseling – you go to a therapist or a counselor on a regular basis, like maybe once a week, and talk to them about your recovery. They attempt to help you with guidance and suggestions, etc.
2) Outpatient therapy – you go to a rehab, usually a few days each week, sometimes 5 days per week, and you might stay there for anywhere from 3 to 8 hours per day. You would attend group therapy, maybe even eat lunch there, and so on. It’s like residential treatment but you just don’t sleep there overnight.
3) Short term residential inpatient – this is what people usually think of as “rehab.” You stay for up to 28 days and get therapy and groups and meetings every day.
4) Long term treatment – you live in rehab for longer than 28 days, possibly up to a few years even. This might include things like a halfway house.
5) Drug maintenance therapy – medical treatments such as Suboxone or Methadone maintenance.
Now the kicker is that any or all of these might be helpful to a person who is trying to recover, and the key factor is not so much in what level of treatment they have, but rather, in the level of willingness that they have.
Consider the addict who has finally surrendered and wants to get help for their problem. Maybe if you stuck them in counseling they might not make it, and they could relapse. But maybe they would “make it” and stay clean and sober if you put them in any of the other treatment options, including both short and long term rehabs. They became willing, they surrendered fully, and now it matters very little how you help them. All that matters is that they get SOME help.
So do not ask yourself “what type of treatment do I need to recover?” Instead, ask yourself:
“Am I truly surrendered to my addiction, and ready for change?”
If you can say “yes” to that question, then it matters little how you actually seek help.
I would also argue that the higher your level of surrender, the less you will care about what level of treatment you actually receive. You will become open to any solution. This was especially true for me when it came to long term rehab. I had never been willing to attend long term treatment in the past, because I thought it was too big of a commitment. But then after getting to a point of real surrender, I was able to stop caring about how big of a “sacrifice” it was for me to live in rehab for 2 years. I just did not care. I was beat down and defeated by drugs and alcohol, and so I had become willing. Willing to do anything it took, including living in rehab for 2 years (actually, I ended up living there for 20 months. Still a long time!).
So what you need to focus on in recovery is your level of willingness. Many people say things like “I can’t go to rehab. My family needs me.” Or they say “I can’t live in long term rehab, I have to keep working.” Or they come up with all sorts of excuses for why they cannot get a certain level of treatment.
I have news for those people: they are in deep denial, and they do not understand the consequences of addiction and alcoholism. It KILLS you. You will die if you continue. So I don’t care if you have a family that desperately depends on you to make dinner for them every night, you are fooling yourself. You are stuck in denial and it will kill you.
Better is to just go get the help you need. The world does not need you, at all. You could die due to your addiction and the world would carry on. Your family would find a way to survive. It is the same if you go to rehab. They need you clean and sober. So just go do it. Go ask for help.