Because Addiction is a complex condition, it can be contradictory for pressure for recovery to solely fall on the person struggling with the Addiction. The reality, though, is that the lack of understanding about Addiction and Recovery is part of the reason why relapse rates are so high. Really, when it comes to Addiction treatment, there are at least four (4) arenas in which there must be some level of education delivered
1. Clients must be holistically treated in ways that include education about healthy living and coping, as well as, education about their respective addictions and possible paths towards recovery.
2. Family and friends of addicts must be educated about addiction and recovery that includes content that addresses the substance or process at the center of the addiction. All too often, people think that if an addict “just stops using,” everything will be hunky dory. However, the reality is that there are several layers and the substance of abuse is almost always a symptom and not he root cause of the real problem.
3. Clinicians who don’t primarily deal with Addiction must become familiar with the mechanics of both Addiction and Recovery. As a matter of fact, there are few cases of any emotional disorders presenting without any type of substance abuse. Because of this high prevalence of co-morbidity, clinicians should also become educated about the pharmacologies of common substances of abuse (including alcohol).
4. The general public must become educated about the realities of both Addiction and Recovery. Even as Addiction research provides more and more insight into the mulit-faceted and complex nature of Addiction, there still appears to be a single-pronged desire to hold onto a purely 12-step approach to addiction treatment, evidenced in recent movies like, “Cake,” and, “Thanks for Sharing,” which both emphasized the need to “work the steps.” While there is merit in the 12-steps, there is a lot more to creating the circumstance in which a person can overcome an addiction. As the general public becomes more educated, policymakers can then pass laws that would allow treatment resources to become more available.
Although it can appear as though an addict has to work to get clean (and he or she does), the onus should not be placed solely on an addict’s shoulders. If treatment providers don’t educate families and friends, there is no way a “recovery-friendly” circumstance can emerge. If Clinicians aren’t better educated about addiction/recovery, then any work will fall short as the Addiction will interfere with treatment of say, Anxiety/Depression. And if we don’t do a better job of educating the general public, negative stereotypes will persist. These negative stereotypes allow shame and fear to run freely and present unnecessary obstacles.