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Friday, April 1, 2011

A Recovery Alternative to Current Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment

That these people who consider themselves cured and no longer attend meetings or group therapy are just around the corner from a relapse and are in denial about the truth of addiction. I disagree. Just because some people can quit drinking and drugging and others can't does not indicate that those who can't must have a disease. Just because one is still struggling with alcohol or drug use does not mean that the same ability to stop is not present for them as it was for those that have already quit.

The majority of people who have had problems with alcohol or drug addiction in the past quit on their own. Think about yourself growing up and those you knew who may have battled sporadically with drinking or drug use. If everyone was doomed to the disease of addiction who once used excessively, there would be a lot more "addicts" today. But this is not the case. People "mature out" of negative behaviors they once had. They get a new job, get married, have a kid or experience some life change that becomes more important than their drinking or drugging. Values, focus and life purpose change. Even those currently struggling with drug or alcohol addiction will tell you that they have often refrained from drug or alcohol use for a period of time when they have to.

There is no mysterious disease here; it is a matter of choice. You are in complete control right now! No one is stopping you from cracking that beer, or sniffing that powder. If you want to use alcohol or drugs, you will. Addicts always find a way.

So why is the alternative to using alcohol or drugs, not using, so difficult to comprehend? We can choose to pick up a beer whenever we fancy. But if we want to put that beer down, all of a sudden there are diseases, character defects, meetings, and counseling treatment sessions to contend with! Most who have had problems with alcohol or drugs have quit on their own, without treatment and all the drama and struggle.

But what about those who really have a desire to stop using drugs or alcohol but just can't seem to quit with the current treatment practices? These people seem to abstain for a while only to fall prey to the inevitable "relapse". After much hard work in AA or treatment with many broken promises, they prove the point once again that addiction is a disease. Instead of labeling the failure to remain sober as "the disease" we should be looking at the messages we are sending those who are seeking help. The messages these people get when they enter treatment "You are powerless", "You will always have the disease", "Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic"; lends itself to the endless struggle and failure.

Can alcohol or drugs negatively affect the body? Absolutely. Are some people more prone to abuse alcohol or drugs than others? Yes. Just as some people drink too much coffee, exercise too much or eat too much. Almost anything taken or done in excess can cause adverse reactions in the body and there are many things people do in excess.

The argument that alcohol and drug abuse negatively affect the body is not at debate here. But rather, the belief that ones choice and free will are compromised in such a way that we have no ability to change unless we "follow the program" or become powerless and continuously struggle.

Do some struggle more than others? Absolutely. Do some experience symptoms of withdrawal when they cease using alcohol or drugs? Absolutely. The harsh reality is that drugs and alcohol can create such a deep despair and helplessness. But freedom is not affected. Choices don't leave. And just because something is unpleasant or hard does not make it a disease. It simply means your choice to drink or use drugs produced certain consequences. To own your choices and consequences is to maintain your freedom to choose. To take the responsibility away from the person and put it on the "disease of addiction" is to further feed into the helpless victim image the person may already feel.

For some it may be beneficial to believe in the disease of addiction, attend AA meetings or treatment programs. However, for others it just won't work. The key is finding what works for you.

Alcohol or drugs help buffer you from unwanted emotions. You able to re-assert your will and regain a sense of what you think is normalcy.

This is the trap. Alcohol and drugs do not enable you to regain control. They further diminish your ability to resolve life conflicts and create a void between yourself and the world. While you are struggling to escape the helplessness you feel, you are neglecting healthy responsibilities to issues that arise which could have been resolved or dealt with instead of being exasperated by your addictive behavior.

You might be thinking, "This is obvious and common sense stuff!" But why do so many fall for the illusion of control trap? This is because we have been led to believe that alcohol and drugs help us escape. But, even worse, we have been told by the treatment professionals that addiction is not under our control, that it is a disease! What a perfect "out" for someone who does not want to cope with life responsibilities! "Hey, look, it is just my disease. I can't help it."

Those who struggle with alcohol or drug addiction are finding that often the "treatment professionals" or mainstream thinking isn't helping, but making things worse. The success rate for traditional substance abuse treatment is not that high which indicates that the majority of those who enter treatment will not succeed. Along with this, those who do not enter treatment have as high or higher success rate in eliminating their addictive behavior! They tell you relapse is a part of treatment! What? Then why go? If something does not produce acceptable results, why continue in it? Because we have been led to believe by the treatment professionals that it is the only way!

You do not have a disease! And there are recovery alternatives to current drug and alcohol addiction treatment. Your will to survive is strong, and your own path unique. I find that people who overcome a drug or alcohol addiction do so through a willingness and a desire to redirect their lives.

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