Thursday, 6 February 2014

Beating People Into "Recovery"

    I've been to many different meetings for people in recovery in many different places. The formats and the routines may be different. The message is the same: We can and do get healthier as we stop our self-destructive behaviors and/or addictions provided we are willing to do some work.

     The unfortunate reality observed in a subset of professional treatment providers and also in a subset of people who have an absolute belief in what has been been termed as "old-fashioned recovery" is the tendency to browbeat people into a mold. The perceived actions of what a vigorous recovery looks like to this outspoken minority is what is imposed upon the individuals newly abstinent. It is truly a small percentage of addictions counselors and a small percentage of the work-the-steps-immediately crowd of which I speak.

     When a counselor demands that a client profess belief in a higher power in a certain way, that is overstepping certain boundaries that should be in place. No one gets to dictate what form recovery will take for an individual. Yet, I have seen this happen more than once. A lack of belief in any gods, dogmas, or spirituality ought not be treated as a weakness to be re-mediated by a treatment plan. The counselor's beloved higher power and sincerely held belief system may not be appropriate to the client or the client may not be ready for it.

     When a visitor from out of town returns to a prior home group with stories of how much "better" recovery is where that visitor is living now, it is difficult to welcome the visitor back with open arms. The difficulty increases when that visitor takes a vigorous stand against drug courts. It gets worse when that visitor berates an anxiety-filled newcomer for not having a sponsor and not working the steps. 

     We know that voluntary treatment works. We know that people who are given the option of drug court over jail or prison time are motivated to choose drug court. We know that because of drug courts, folks do get funneled into the meetings and many of those folks stay even after they are no longer on paper. And some of those who don't stay come back after experimenting some more. [And a few die.]

sapphoq itching for a coffee says: If you believe that you are not 'god,' then how about taking a break from pretending to be the be all and end all of recovery. We used to say, "Bring the body and the mind will follow." We are similar enough to recognize each other as human beings and different enough to retain our individuality. So give yourself a break and resign from the divinity post. Remember that some of us may not be ready for your version of spirituality or it may not be appropriate for some of us. Have you no trust in the process?  Recovery and treatment plans ought not to be cookie-cutter in form and substance. Thank you. 

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