Reader Mailbag: Treatment Centers Plant a Seed of Hope for Addicts

Reader Mailbag: Treatment Centers Plant a Seed of Hope for Addicts

Reader mailbag

Thomas left a thought provoking comment:

“To my understanding and experience with treatment centers; “There is a 100% success rate in treatment centers!” True, the percentage of clients actually getting clean and staying clean are minimal, but this has nothing to do with their success rate. The centers offer a way out and it has been proven that anyone that stays in the recovery process and doesn’t pick up a drug will stay clean. They plant a seed and that is what their main goal is. Everyone that goes through a treatment center hears that they too can get clean and stay clean if they want to work at it. That is where you are taking away from the treatment centers as not working, but they are working because down the road after hitting that final bottom they will come back and try it again. The seed has been planted by the treatment facility and it will remain until they return to the program and death will remain in all of our futures. The choice is still in GOD’s hands how we will die.”

Thank you so much for your comment Thomas, and for bringing some balance to this debate about treatment centers and their effectiveness.

I could not help but realize after reading this comment that I had indeed gone to several treatment centers prior to getting clean and sober where just such a “seed” was planted in me. At the time, going to those treatment centers was not effective for me, as I ended up relapsing, but it is possible that they played a role in the big scheme of things. As Thomas pointed out, they may have left me with a piece of knowledge or hope that I later used to push myself towards recovery.

In addition to “planting a seed,” I can think of some other reasons for endorsing treatment centers, even in spite of their low success rates:

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1) Treatment centers offer hope – In spite of low success rates, they do offer hope, especially to the family and friends of the potential addict or alcoholic. It’s not all about the addict. A suffering family deserves a ray of hope and a treatment facility can provide that.

2) Treatment centers offer a fighting chance – In some people’s situations, their only hope to escape their relatively toxic environment is to enter a treatment center. Without a controlled environment, they would stand no chance of staying clean.

3) Treatment centers educate – some people have no knowledge of recovery or that it is even possible. This is the “seed” that might get planted, so that one day an addict might remember that their is hope, and then make a decision to get clean.

On the other hand….

Still, saying that treatment centers are successful because they plant a seed for possible future success is a bit of a stretch. Yes, sometimes it takes what it takes. But imagine if other health care worked this way:

Say you go to the dentist and they look at your tooth and decide that it needs to be pulled. So they numb you up and fiddle around a bit and end up not pulling the tooth out. They charge you for the visit and the services and then say “Well, it looks like it almost came out! Should be loosened up real good for next time maybe!”

Now obviously that is not a totally fair analogy, because so much of recovery depends on the individual, not on the health care experts who are attending to them. But I think you get the point: we are talking about an entire industry with a really high rate of failure. An industry where relapse is practically expected.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing treatment. Hands down, I am pro-treatment. What I’m doing here is advocating for change. And I want to challenge people to stop settling for a 3 percent success rate. Can’t we somehow flip things around, stir up the industry and create entire new models of treatment, do some interesting things with young people in recovery, really challenge the norms and experiment a little?

Do we have to settle for so little hope? I want to see us evolve past the “seed-planting” stage, that’s all!

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