The best treatment plans for substance abuse are based on establishing routines of daily positive action and change. Why is this the case, and how does it work?
Consider the life of the addict or alcoholic. They are trapped in a cycle of negativity, one that is perpetuated by their addiction. They do not have the ability to escape from this cycle on their own and they feel trapped. At some point their addiction gets out of control to the point where they feel like they cannot continue on in any capacity; either using their drug of choice OR abstaining. They feel helpless, trapped, and defeated. This is the point of surrender.
Once the alcoholic or addict reaches this point, then they can start to heal IF they ask for help and start taking direction. Why do they need to ask for help and take direction?
They need to ask for help because they have tried their own ideas in the past already about how to control or eliminate their addiction and none of it worked. If it did work, then they would not be addicted. If they have not tried to control it yet, then they are nowhere near the point of surrender yet anyway.
So if someone is at the point of surrender, then they have definitely tried to beat their own addiction, and failed at it. Many times. This is how you GET to the point of surrender. You have to be beaten before you can give up.
So the addict’s life is a pattern of negativity, one of self medicating their feelings, one of drugging away negative emotions.
How can this be reversed, and overcome, in recovery?
It starts with detox, of course. You have to eliminate all mood and mind altering substances, first of all. That is the baseline of any recovery program. Total abstinence is the starting kick off. You have to start with a clean slate.
Now, how to maintain abstinence? This is the point of recovery.
The whole of any program such as AA or any other is simply relapse prevention. You have stopped using drugs and alcohol, now…..how do you stay stopped? That is the only question, and the entire point.
So if you look at the life of an addict and the chaos of addiction and the negative patterns that are involved, you can actually glean a pretty good recovery plan for treatment simply based on the opposite of that.
How so? Let’s see.
* A good treatment plan is based on daily positive action. This is first and foremost. Almost all recovery programs segment your life based on the “day at a time” philosophy. This makes perfect sense and each day is a new opportunity for you to make positive changes. Why changes? Isn’t stopping drinking and drugging enough? No. It’s not.
* You have to make positive changes every day in recovery in order to maintain positive momentum. Momentum for what? For not relapsing. Yes, the threat of relapse is always going to be hanging over your head, but if you maintain positive momentum then you will be insured against disaster. But it is a daily battle, and if you stop pushing yourself to make positive changes, you will slowly revert back to your old life and eventually relapse.
* A positive recovery plan is holistic in nature. That just means that it addresses all areas of your life, from the physical to the mental to the emotional to the spiritual and so on. A good treatment plan does not limit itself to just spiritual growth, for example. It goes beyond that and seeks to make positive changes in all areas of a person’s life.
* If you make positive changes every single day, then you are building a larger and larger buffer between yourself and relapse. If you just make a few positive changes and then stop making them, your buffer is very small, and only a small sequence of negative events can turn you back to the drugs. But if you continue to keep making more and more positive changes in your life, then eventually you reach a place where you have acquired plenty of insurance against the threat of relapse, because there is so much positive stuff in your life now.
For example, say that you are now chairing 12 step meetings and helping people in recovery on a regular basis. This does not ensure you against relapse completely, but it helps immensely, and you will not get to this point unless you make lots of other positive changes first. But making those changes and building up to a point where it becomes a joy to help others in recovery is an awesome place to be.