Thursday, 31 July 2014

"I can't possibly show up for life. I'm in recovery!"

     Bunches of people these days-- healthy and able-bodied people-- are [apparently] being told by addiction treatment professionals not to work, or not to return to work "just yet." After all, the real world requires that most adults support ourselves financially. Having become freeloaders in our active addiction, the addiction treatment industry tells us to continue to live off the system. The memo is out, folks. People in early recovery are frail and vulnerable beings who are not capable of handling the stress of employment. Some percentage of our co-workers may not be abstinent. 

     To be sure, there are notable consequences of our addictions. For the sake of brevity, we can call them F-SPIES. Financial, social, physical, intellectual, emotional, sexual. [Those of a more mystical vein can add an extra S on the end to denote "spiritual."].

     A few of us sought help for our addictions when the landscape of recovery was different. There were very few in-patient rehab centers. There were few if any out-patient day treatment places specifically for addiction. Sobering up stations and crises centers existed only in the poorer neighborhoods. Folks went to hospitals to detox. We did not have a "disease" which required "treatment." Almost all of us kept right on working. We didn't have a choice. And some percentage of us also did volunteer work to fill up the suddenly empty hours that we used to dedicate to getting blasted.

     Alcoholism was first to be declared a "disease." Selling insurance companies on the notion that addiction to other drugs was a problem which also deserved "treatment" was out of the question. Gambling was a problem but not a "disease." Obesity was suspected to be self-inflicted with [perhaps] glandular or genetic involvement. Then the United States exploded with the addictions treatment industry and everyone wanted in on the act-- even Scientologists.
Rehabs, out-patient day programs specific to addictions [or addictions plus mental health disorders later on], detoxes, sobering up, halfway houses, community residences for those who have both addiction and mental health diagnoses, drug courts, family treatment courts, supportive apartments, and so on and so forth proliferated.

     People are being exposed to all of this stuff at younger ages these days. In 1980, someone under the age of thirty attending a recovery meeting for the first time was a rarity. The pendulum has swung the opposite way. These days it is rare to see someone over the age of thirty come into the rooms for the first time.

     Don't misunderstand me. I like the young people coming in. I celebrate them. I know that someday I will be dead and the young folks will have to carry on. Hopefully by then, the professional community will begin to get a collective clue about this work thing.

sapphoq itching for a coffee says: People, stop using your recovery as an excuse for not showing up for life. Learning how to live off of the system or becoming a better freeloader is not the "treat" part of treatment. If you are able to work, you probably should be working. 

     I am grateful that some percentage of drug courts will insist that their participant-defendants take jobs before being released from supervision. That so many others involved in the addictions treatment industry hand out excuses to their clientele is un-good. 

     To addictions treatment professionals everywhere: Working can be a part of early recovery. The idea that we can work together at work and then go home without buying drugs off of Jo co-worker or stopping off at the bar with the gang is a healthy one. Why do you want to strip self-determination from people in early recovery? Endeavor to show your patients that excuses are lame. If something is worth having, then it is worth working for. And I don't mean beginning of the month checks from our social welfare system. 


No comments: