I’m trying to envision a world where more and more people come to rely on the creative theory of recovery for their sobriety. If this ever came to pass, what would creative treatment centers be like? How would they differ from existing 12 step based treatment centers?
Here are some of the differences:
It would be long term
One of the biggest problems with existing treatment models is that the stay is simply too short. I don’t care what program of recovery is being implemented, 28 days or less is not really long enough for most people to get through the initial stage of recovery. More often than not, these short term residential clients relapse within days or even hours of being released from treatment.
The exact model is not important in these cases. The key ingredient is time. It takes time to get a clean break from a lifestyle of addiction. 28 days or less is simply not enough time to provide this kind of turnaround. We are simply setting addicts up for failure by expecting them to be “over the hump” when we release them to their aftercare programs.
Because treatment is so expensive, long term treatment for the creative theory would probably have to be funded differently (such as in the way that halfway houses are typically funded).
Treatment for the creative theory of approach would have to be long term because the driving force of success occurs when the addict transitions from the first stage of recovery into a lifetime of holistic principles. It is this transition from short term recovery to the creative theory that we are concerned with, and in my opinion that transition does not generally occur until somewhere around 90 days to one year clean.
It would be goal-oriented
Creative treatment would be goal oriented, in that the focus would be on life planning and also on the holistic approach. So counselors or therapists would work with clients in order to set specific goals, such as to create a daily habit of exercise, or to get enrolled in community college, and so on. Instead of lectures about the harmful effects of certain drugs, there would be classes that motivate addicts to focus on education or skills development. Each client would have a specific plan outlined for them, that they create with their therapist, about how they are going to make progress and grow in their life. The focus would shift from “here is how not to use drugs” to “here is how to build a life for yourself.” Then the therapists would work with the clients to make those goals and to help motivate them. Essentially, the shift is from “addiction counselor” towards “recovery life coach.”
It would represent a multi-dimensional approach
Typical substance abuse treatment today has a fairly narrow focus. For example, a 12 step based treatment center usually focuses exclusively on the 12 step program as a solution for recovery. The creative theory of recovery would seek to broaden the potential solution set, largely through the exploration of holistic principles and possibly different levels of therapy as well. For example, some recovering addicts prefer one-on-one counseling and do very well with it as a weekly therapy. Others prefer group therapy. A sensible approach would offer the flexibility to accommodate both types of people.
Long term treatment offers plenty of time to work on a wide range of topics, and that’s exactly what would happen. Addicts would experiment with holistic techniques (such as exercise or meditation), work through issues in therapy or counseling, and start building a real life through education or employment with specific goals and something to strive for.
It would emphasize education, career development, or skills training
The creative approach would seek to build up a new life in recovery. Therefore the emphasis is not just in avoiding drug use but also in building a new life that is worth living. Building this new life will enhance self-esteem and self-worth to healthy levels that can help prevent relapse.
It doesn’t make much sense to go back into a dismal life situation and then try to avoid drug use. This isn’t a realistic model. We need to empower addicts to create a new life for themselves and help motivate them to get there. Once an addict starts making progress in building this new life, there is incentive to stay drug-free and to work on those holistic principles that can prevent relapse.
It’s not just about “go to creative treatment and get a job or get an education.” This approach would be flexible enough to realize that not everyone works or needs skills training, and the focus can just as easily fall on holistic principles for better living.
Some people need individual counseling to work through specific issues. Others do not. Some thrive on group therapy. Others do not. The creative approach needs to be flexible enough to cater to both types of individuals. Certainly this is a more expensive approach, but how expensive are current treatment options given that they don’t really work all that well?
We can do better!