The Journey of Recovery happens in a Healing Community. Nobody who suffers from a deep psychological wound can heal without a Community.
In my work with Recovering Addicts, I am always moved at the depth of the Fellowship provided by the 12-Step Program and the Fellowship embedded in the way AA was designed. No two addicts are ever the same, so no two journeys are ever the same. But the journey begins when the Addict says Please Help Me, to his or her therapist, friend, pastor, or family.
The fortunate addict is very lucky if he or she can afford treatment in a well-managed Rehab. This involves most often a highly structured program, lectures on addiction, and Group Therapy. 21 days of in-patient treatment is often the recommended MINIMUM. Why? This is because is takes at the very least, 21 days of total sobriety to detox the body and the mind. This is only just the beginning.
When I started working in Rehab, one of my earliest mentors, Dr. Charles Perkel, would often say that the first 21 days in just like a great jet landing on the runway. The brain of an addict is very sick in the beginning of Recovery.
Meetings are an essential part of all good treatment programs in my view, even if you are a terribly avoidant and frightened introvert. You are not alone. The Fellowship of AA, NA, (Gamblers’ Anonymous), gives you hope. You are encouraged t share in honesty where you are today. others in the Fellowship reach out to you and tell you things that give you the faith you need.
More expensive Centres can also offer Individual Therapy and Family Therapy. Some centres involve the treatment by a Psychiatrist. I think this is really a crucial part of the treatment. My reasoning for this argument is that although in some cases, Addiction can be the primary disease, often there is an underlying Mental Health issue. Therapy alone cannot make you better. So you need many skilled people to help you get clean.
Let’s say you drink because you suffer from anxiety. Some ‘purist’ treatment centres expect addicts to get clean without Psychiatric medication. This is based on the fact that some people become addicted to certain psychiatric drugs, especially those which can be classified as benzodiapines. However, there are many ways to treat anxiety, but it takes a long time before you start to feel better. The structure of the program helps you to feel safe, and then, one day at a time, to work through your issues; whether it is grief or guilt or anger or trauma.
I will say more about what to look for an a good treatment program in future posts.