Early days along the road to recovery from active addiction
There are a lot of ways that people can find their way into an addiction treatment centre. Some addicted patients just know that whatever benefits they used to get from using alcohol and other drugs just don’t seem to work anymore and they have reached the end of that path. For others there may have been intervention or help from family, friends or a concerned employer, life may have got a little too hectic and they have accepted some help gratefully. Yet others may feel they have been “dragged kicking and screaming” into a facility, some times it may even seem like all of the above simultaneously.
Whether the addicted individual is a mother, father, brother, son or daughter, perhaps even an alcoholic colleague or addicted employee, however the individual has found themselves in an addiction treatment centre, the similarities informing their thinking and their attitudes are often remarkably similar. Often when addicted or alcoholic people are admitted to twelve step / Minnesota Model treatment centre’s they struggle with powerful feelings of ambivalence and conflict around their addiction to alcohol and / or other drugs and whether they feel and think they need to find some kind of recovery. Even if the patient believes that they need to recover from active addiction, they’re often at a complete loss as to how and by what specific means they can recover!
Even drug addicted or alcoholic people that have taken a conscious step towards change struggle to make this transition without experiencing powerful and conflicting feelings. This ambivalence and confusion is entirely normal for a newly recovering person. There is no doubt that a residential facility (12 step facilitation / Minnesota model, Primary Care treatment centres also detoxify patients) is the first choice option on the road to recovery. The addiction treatment facility is above all a safe environment and will provide a space for a controlled, supervised detox process prior to commencement of addiction rehab. The start of the rehabilitation process for the alcoholic or addict can also herald the start of a new journey for family, friends and others close to them. This is a hopeful but challenging time and there are a few suggested Do’s and Don’ts recognised by most treatment centres.
In the better addiction treatment centres there will certainly be some kind of Family Programme available. Addiction, whether it be to drugs or alcohol, gambling, sex or food has for decades been recognised as a family illness. Therefore we strongly encourage and support families of our addicted patients in attending the family groups, lectures and counselling that will be available to them at one of our specialised addiction treatment centres. This Family Programme will be of enormous help in understanding the disease of addiction and of how to cope with its aftermath. Do get involved with an open mind. Participation in these groups should also provide guidance and reassurance around creating healthy boundaries to begin defining the new relationships that will be created through recovery from alcoholism or addiction. Healthy boundaries are crucial for all parties involved including the addict or alcoholic. Hopefully through attendance at the addiction centre’s Family Programme you’ll learn how to adopt a stance in relation to the addicted person that can be most useful.
It may seem easier to revert to old, well established, patterns of pre-treatment days. With the help of Family Groups and healthy boundaries, friends, loved ones and employers can encourage the addict/alcoholic to fully participate in the recovery process and by doing so it is to be hoped the addict/alcoholic will derive the benefits from completing the full Primary Care Programme. Do support the continuation and completion of treatment stages. Family, friends, loved ones and employers can also provide positive encouragement to the addict/alcoholic for the next step in their treatment journey. If the option for any form of secondary treatment is available and the clinical team deems it in the best interests of the addicted patient to continue their care at a recognised secondary care facility and the funds are available, the more support the better.
There is, for severe addictions, a direct link between the length of treatment and the patient’s ability to remain abstinent after treatment. In cases where secondary treatment is not an option the addict would have been introduced to one of the twelve step fellowships whilst in treatment. The mutual help found within these groups is indispensable to successful recovery and it is not just those suffering from addictions to alcohol, drugs, food, sex and gambling that can find this sort of help. There are twelve step fellowships such as Al-Anon, for families & friends of alcoholics, Nar-Anon for those of drug addicts, Gam-Anon for family and friends of gamblers etc.
The experience of sharing and understanding both the twelve steps and the recovery journey’s of others is described by those who are on the path as unparalleled. Recovering people in the fellowships of AA, NA, GA, SLA, and OA are encouraged to ask for help from others on the same recovery path. This asking for help serves a number of useful purposes;
Addicted people, alcoholics, sex addicts, people with eating disorders and gambling problems are unlikely to recover without help, and awareness of this is paramount in early recovery. For just as long as an addicted person thinks they can ‘handle’ their problem on their own, just that long will they be struggling and experience continued defeat.
It is only through recognising their powerlessness and surrendering to it that addicted people can begin to find some recovery. The addicted person’s act of asking for help further serves to reconfirm their awareness that they can’t do addiction recovery alone, this is absolutely critical in 12 step fellowship terms.
There’s a commonly heard pearl of wisdom around the hallowed halls of 12 step meetings. The definition of alcoholism goes something like this, that the alcohol is in the bottle and the ‘ism’ is in the alcoholic. The ‘ism’ stands for ‘incredibly short memory’!
The journey of people a little further along the path of recovery can be greatly eased by giving assistance to the newcomer. In fact this concept is one of the foundation stone of Alcoholics Anonymous, the mother ship from which all other twelve step fellowships have sprung. Through the sharing of mutual experiences, recovering people are not only reminded where they came from they’re also reminded of what’s worked along their path. Moreover, helping others and expecting nothing in return, totally unselfishly and without hidden agenda, is the essence of 12 step recovery and the opposite of how actively addicted people behave. Being useful to others in a very real, practical and deeply meaningful way allows recovering people to a genuine connection and is also one of four common denominators among people who attain long term, contented sobriety. Vaillant, G.E. (1996) Psychotherapy, Psychological Treatments and the Addictions, Edited by Griffith Edwards and Christopher Dare. Addictions over the life course: therapeutic implications. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p.3 – 18.
The camaraderie recovering people share is akin to being in the same life raft together, having survived a tremendous shipwreck and it’s only their combined efforts that ensure not only their continued survival but engagement in a life better than they have ever known, a life better than their expectations. I suppose this may seem to those on the outside almost like a ‘brothers in arms’ fraternity!
Some recovering people describe the 12 step fellowships of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous as the most exclusive club in the world, going on to say that no-one has paid like they have paid to earn their seat in the fellowship. Often addicted people leave a wake of ruined relationships, career’s, wasted opportunities and squandered years when they finally find a path out of the actively addicted madness. Losing loved ones, jobs, status, finances, perhaps even their freedom by spending time in jail, isn’t easy for addicted people and it’s even harder for the people that have loved the addicted person. Our hearts go out to parents, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, and especially the children affected by addiction. Addiction tears families apart, but the early days along the road to recovery from active addiction or alcoholism through the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous can unite even the most bitterly divided relationships.
WeDoReover will put you in touch with professionals who can assist you and your loved one’s on a journey of excitement and hope as you recover from addiction or alcoholism, at no additional cost to you. Of course the addiction treatment centres charge money, but we work with only the finest addiction treatment facilities throughout the United Kingdom, South Africa & Thailand and these centres pay us for our ability to appropriately screen and refer patients into the addiction’s facility that most suits the patients needs. So our work is done without you paying for it. Call one of our treatment coordinators today!
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