The way I see it, treating Addiction requires intangibles like hope, faith, and quite frankly, luck. The hard truth about treatment is that so many things have to align that there are times that “next steps” almost feel like throwing chicken bones to determine direction.
There will be those who disagree with me. I’m certain there are treatment practitioners who claim that they know fool-proof methods for successfully treating Addiction. But I don’t see any methods that can guarantee health. There may be methods that can lead to abstinence; but abstinence without health (as defined by the client) is really nothing more than mirage: A false oasis of a life that suddenly becomes whole just because a person doesn’t use a substance.
The reality, from my perspective, is that we all have aspects of our lives that need work. If we struggle with an Addiction, I’m willing to bet that there are more aspects of life that need attention. Trying to build and maintain healthy relationships is hard enough; throw in the damage done through an addiction and the road towards “good” relationships becomes a lot harder.
Maintaining a proper diet is among the more difficult challenges of modern life. But, when a body has been ravaged by an addiction, nutrition becomes even more paramount. Diabetes is associated with alcoholism; when someone who is diabetic stops drinking, he or she still needs to deal with the dietary elements of diabetes treatment. When someone has focused pretty much all daily energy to picking up an opiate, I’m willing to bet that he or she has lost a bunch of weight in an unhealthy way. Once he or she “gets clean,” he or she will have to learn to eat right in order to help his or her body heal.
Abstinence does not equal health. Addiction treatment is not a binary endeavor. When a person first enters treatment, the road he or she has to traverse can be discouraging. As treatment providers, we have no business selling someone on anything but truth: If we tell someone that we have the answers, when we’re wrong, we jeopardize our clients’ health. I know that the best I can do is help someone find his or her path towards health. I can teach people that Addiction has patterns that can be attacked; I can show people that Recovery, also, has patterns that can be leveraged. But what I can’t do is make someone healthy. I don’t have a guaranteed process for someone to find healthy recovery. No one does and if someone claims that he or she does, then God bless them because I suspect that somewhere along the way, he or she won the lottery.