Beware: This message may offend you…
One of the harder aspects of trying to treat addiction and substance abuse is that sometimes people want me to have answers that are somehow easy and/or guaranteed. But, every time I take on a case or follow-up on an existing case, I learn more and more just how much people want someone else upon whom they can either project responsibility or place blame. Here’s the thing, though: I’m not here as a lightning rod to displace the negative emotion that accompanies substance abuse. I’m here, in my opinion, to teach the mechanics of substance abuse and substances, and to also teach tools for coping with those mechanics, once understood. But I can’t teach what someone isn’t willing to learn and to learn, ultimately, means to process and use the information I teach.
I get asked questions, all the time, about things to do to help treat an addiction. For example, I was recently approached by a man whose sister had been abusing alcohol for several years. It wasn’t the first time, though, that he’d spoken and consulted with me. Several months ago, he contacted me to learn about any meds that may help his sister become less dependent on alcohol. I asked about her liver and confirmed that her years of drinking had led to some liver damage. The reason I inquired is because Narcan has been shown to help reduce alcohol cravings, but is toxic to the liver if it’s already damaged. Therefore, I recommended that the man talk with his sister’s doctor about Acomprosate, which has also been shown to be an effective adjunctive therapy. Of course, I also offered a variant of CBT and Relapse Prevention Therapy that either I or another treatment provider could provide.
The man thanked me, called me a few more times, but then disappeared into life’s ether. Until recently, that is. Upon hearing from him, the first thing I asked him was, “did you talk with the doc about Acomprosate?”
“Did you ever reach out to anyone regarding treatment?”
My head spins in those moments when people ask my professional advice and then ignore it. I used to think they did that because they didn’t like the advice. Now, however, I think I know why I (and so many other treatment providers) am ignored: People don’t call me to learn, they call me so that I can offer up something that will bring change without any effort. But the truth will always remain, without conscious action, change doesn’t happen. I don’t have all the answers and I especially don’t have any EASY answers for treating addiction and substance abuse. Recovery is hard work that requires patience, commitment and knowledgeable support. There are no shortcuts nor are there any magic potions that will cure addition without any work.
Sorry, but that’s the truth…