Problem: most treatment programs are one-size-fits-all, yet the addicts and alcoholics that make up recovery are incredibly diverse.
This study suggests that most treatment programs typically fail because they do not adequately address the special needs of different people.
For example, the study points out that women and minorities often face different challenges in early recovery. Depending on a person’s unique situation, they might require more peer support than other recovering addicts. Likewise, some in early recovery might require more financial support, or housing resources, or help getting a job, and so on. Different people have different needs, and the study linked to above shows how these needs vary based on different demographic groups (specifically gender and race categories).
Treatment programs might leave some behind
In my experience, the conclusions drawn by this study prove to be true. I have seen many people in early recovery who are frustrated because they are not getting the help that they truly need. In particular, the twelve step program really doesn’t have the resources needed to assist women in early recovery who might be dealing with abusive relationships or gender issues. (In fact, the Big Book of AA is clearly targeted at male drinkers).
Now this is not said to knock AA or any other program, but the fact remains that almost all recovery programs that try to be a solution for anyone and everyone are going to fall short in some areas. For some people, customization and individualization are going to be key in creating a truly effective recovery plan.
While the arguments above focus on race and gender issues, I’ve seen recovering addicts who have failed because other issues were not properly addressed, such as mental illness or even physical problems. Problems from almost any area of our lives can potentially trip us up in recovery and lead us to relapse.
As another example, someone might be out of shape when the first get clean and sober, but they used to have a very active exercise life before they started using drugs. In such a case, exercise might become a really big part of their recovery, almost in a spiritual sense. Most standard recovery programs completely dismiss this element.
Before I worked in a treatment center, I would have thought this idea to be silly, that someone might need vigorous exercise in order to supplement their recovery. But I have seen the frustration over and over again from a lot of people in early recovery. You take away the drugs and the alcohol, and people start feeling better and need a release of some sort. Some of these people just need to work up a sweat in order to feel good again, and no recovery program that I’ve ever seen has really addressed this as part of a “recovery solution”–which it clearly is for some.
The solution: the creative life in recovery is like a custom treatment program
So the creative life in recovery is a holistic approach that can fine tune your recovery and get you active with the stuff that will actually help you to stay clean and sober. That’s the power of customization.
What works for me might not work for you. And certainly vice-verse. So what makes us believe that a single program of recovery is appropriate for all people? Take what works from any program you can find and run with it. Use what works. Discard the rest.
Create your own life in recovery.