The idea that there is a shortcut to recovery is a bit misleading. Of course there are no easy paths to take in order to achieve long term sobriety and growth. It takes a lot of work, no matter how you go about doing it.
And that is the main thing right there: you have to do it. Achieving long term sobriety requires action. No such thing as a shortcut.
Nevertheless, I feel that I stumbled upon a sort of shortcut in terms of figuring out the correct strategy for my early recovery.
That “shortcut” was long term treatment.
Why long term treatment is a shortcut to sobriety
Now it is true that long term treatment does not work for everyone. Many people who live in these places end up relapsing. But compared to short term residential treatment (and compared to no treatment at all), long term treatment offers some of the best chances for success.
Long term treatment is what finally worked for me after everything else had failed.
So how does this constitute a “shortcut” to recovery? Let’s consider some of the ways:
1) Long term treatment is a structural change – when you go to make changes in your life (in an attempt to overcome addiction) it helps to think BIG. If you just make a bunch of little changes then you’re not likely to succeed. What we need in recovery are big structural changes – like changing where you hang out, how you spend your time, who you hang around with, what you spend your money on, and so on. Long term treatment takes care of a lot of these issues all in one fell swoop. It’s a massive structural change that impacts your life in a big way.
2) Long term treatment offers the highest level of support – what is the most support you can possibly get in recovery? Live in a treatment center. That’s what long term treatment is. It is the safety and support of complete immersion in a safe recovery environment. You can’t beat that. Of course, it is still possible to relapse in such a situation, but the amount of support is very high, and there really is no excuse for a relapse unless someone is just dead set on self destructing.
3) Long term treatment helps you focus on the transition to long term recovery – when I was living in long term treatment, one day the therapist that ran the place said “I’ve got a question for each one of you. Tell me what your plan would be if this place closed down tomorrow.” That was a powerful motivator, and caused each one of us to start considering how we were going to eventually “leave the nest.” Living in long term treatment is about the transition, from scraping by a day at a time just trying to stay sober, to living the long term sobriety and quality recovery that we are all shooting for. Long term treatment is powerful because it focuses on this transition.
So there you have it. Is long term treatment a magic bullet? Of course not – there are none. But I still believe it affords the best chance for someone if they are serious about changing their life.