Archive for November, 2012

A popular TV star was recently interviewed about her decision to have radical surgery when doctors detected the early stages of a life-threatening disease. After answering several questions on the same topic, she became increasingly frustrated and interrupted the interviewer; “Why does everyone want to always take the easy road,” she asked.  “Life is not a series of shortcuts.  Sometimes we need to make the hard choices if we want the best results.”

These challenging words describe the way in which too many people approach recovery, seeking the easy path forward rather than options with the greatest potential for success.  Addiction is a chronic disease that kills or destroys millions of lives, yet many fail to take it seriously.  Rather than considering the action with the best chance of success, they look for quick-fixes to avoid relapse.  “I can stay strong without going to meetings,” “A sponsor is for people much worse than me,” “I don’t need to say good-bye to the people and places where I used my drugs or alcohol,” are all frequently heard phrases.  So many people devote their energy to looking for shortcuts.

Dealing with AddictionIf we consider those who suffer from the disease of addiction, we see that a common characteristic is a search for the easy way out. Avoid dealing with stress – use your drug of choice.  Avoid addressing conflict in a relationship – use your drug of choice.  Avoid resolving deep hurts and internal pain – use your drug of choice.  Embracing shortcuts is a way of life for addicts and alcoholics.

Recovery cannot succeed without taking the harder road.  Rehab is a minimum of 28 days because research shows that it takes the brain at least that long to make discernible changes.  12-Step programs cannot be rewritten with only 6-Steps because each step is critically important.  Recovering addicts and alcoholics need to avoid high risk situations because the pull of their disease can be incredibly strong.  Sponsors and support groups are crucial because addiction cannot be beaten without help.

A successful recovery is not built on shortcuts.  It comes from a determined effort to do many things right, not just a few.  It requires the maximum effort, not a minimal response.  Failure rarely comes from doing more than is needed, but it is often caused by doing less than is necessary.

By Michael Campbell

If you had a disease that could kill you without an operation, my guess is that you would diligently seek a well-qualified surgeon with an excellent track record in hopes of saving your life.  Why then do people often select a treatment program for drug and alcohol addiction without equal dedication?  While addiction is a powerful disease with the potential to destroy families, careers, reputations and lives, many people base their search on unimportant criteria. All too often a rehab facility is selected based on its nearby location or proximity to a warm beach, rather than its approach & proven ability to help people establish a solid recovery.

Seven questions are listed below that address critical areas of addiction treatment.  Ask yourself these questions while searching for and selecting a rehab facility.  Hopefully they will help you make an important, possibly life-saving decision.

Individual Counseling is Often More Effective than Group Counseling

  1. What is the treatment program approach? Lecturing alone doesn’t work, nor do scare tactics, and there is no “program” that offers a proven cure.  The treatment should seek to understand the issues that drive an individual’s addiction and help them find resolution. It should also provide the understanding and skills that are necessary to live life differently. This includes identifying the risk factors and “triggers” that fuel their addiction and developing strategies to address these in a new and better way.
  2. Does the treatment program have enough one-on-one therapy?  Group therapy can be very useful, and although it is used by most addiction rehabs, it has important limitations.  The personal issues that often fuel addiction – trauma, low self-esteem, grief, resentments, etc. – are usually more effectively addressed on an individual basis.
  3. Does the program identify mental health issues & address these in treatment? Research suggests that approximately 70% of those seeking addiction treatment have mental health issues that need to be considered.  In so many situations, these issues are the “real problem” and addiction is the “symptom.
  4. Do the staff & educators have advanced degrees and demonstrable experience? When a drug and alcohol treatment program recognizes the importance of the mental health issues, they hire staff with the necessary expertise.  Licensing boards are beginning to require that addiction counselors have at least a Master’s degree.
  5. Is there a “holistic” approach that looks at all aspects of a person’s life in defining a path to lasting sobriety? Recovery from addiction requires that life be lived differently.  The sources of stress, relationship conflicts, poor boundaries, emotional dependency issues and the home environments are among the many issues that must be considered in creating a plan for the future.  Recovery requires changes that address the areas of life that must improve so that a person can experience more joy, more passion, more happiness, and more peace.
  6. Is the treatment facility committed to helping build a strong & sustainable plan for recovery? Rehab is but the first step in a life-long journey out of the dark place created by addiction.  The development of a plan for the future is critical.  It must provide the support, change, accountability and professional help necessary to avoid relapse. 
  7. Has the facility thoroughly investigated your insurance coverage and what the financial costs will be if your benefits are denied? Insurance companies do not like paying for addiction treatment and have dozens of clever strategies to avoid responsibility.  Checking the benefits is only the first step.  The important work is the research to determine whether the insurance company has criteria that will prevent the payment of these benefits, or will terminate treatment before it is complete.

Addiction treatment is about saving lives and changing lives.  However, like every industry, it has the “good, the bad, and the ugly.”  Choosing a facility requires dedicated research and resolve to make the best possible decision.

By Michael Campbell