In this day and age, there are many forms of treatment programs geared towards chemical and alcohol dependency. Deciding which one is right for you or a loved one can be confusing, and can add stress to an already overwhelming situation. Some will argue that residential options aren’t realistic based on a set of conflicting variables (i.e. work, school, parenting, overall disconnect from their current life, etc.) For every good reason brought to the table, you may be countered with 5 supposedly more logical reasons why it’s not the right fit. You may start to believe that an option for simple one-on-one counseling seems completely reasonable, and perhaps maybe you’ve made too big a deal of the whole issue. The problem with a true drug-addicted or alcoholic mind is that it tricks addicts into thinking they can solve their problems based on sheer willpower. Learning about the disease of addiction and how it affects individuals and their families can be a very helpful start in the beginning, but treatment consisting of continuous separation from one’s everyday life for a specific length of time is vital to forming a solid foundation that won’t crack over time.
Separation is vital because it gives the addicted person a chance to work out their issues (the root causes for their addiction) in a safe environment, among supportive peers, while engaging in daily therapeutic activities. They are protected from potentially harmful outside individuals, allowing them, over time, to distinguish the difference between healthy and toxic relationships. It’s statistically shown that toxic associations lead to the same habitual behaviors, so it’s important to teach the addict how to break patterns that ultimately kick-start the same destructive cycle. Being vulnerable in a controlled setting allows for emotional growth. Vulnerability opens up a space that can be filled with strength, allowing individuals to develop a defense against that initial lapse in judgement which can cause a relapse.
The idea of stepping away from one’s daily life and responsibilities can be overwhelming. Losing control for the addicted individual may cause a sense of fear that can feel like hitting a brick wall. Although the fear is real, and it seems like the wall stretches as far as the eye can see, it’s actually paper thin, and if you push yourself a little, you can walk right through it. It’s definitely an adjustment, and requires learning how to step outside your comfort zone, but in a sense, it’s also a relief. It takes enormous pressure away, creating mental space to tackle the real issues underneath the daily stress. Getting individuals to see that their freedom isn’t being taken away, but instead that they, themselves gave it away when they started using, often helps them to accept the process. As time goes on in treatment, the individual gains confidence not only in the concept of the therapy being effective, but also in their self. Traits like humility, empathy, compassion, honesty, and selflessness are possible to achieve in even the most hopeless of cases, if the individual makes a commitment to see the work through. In retrospect, most people will honestly say a rehab hiatus was a drop in the bucket compared to the time squandered while in active addiction.
If your loved one was diagnosed with stage-4 cancer and a doctor suggested chemotherapy, you would probably give it serious thought, determined to choose the most effective regimen to treat the disease. Just like a cancer, the disease of addiction is progressive and ultimately fatal. Left without proper treatment, it strips people of everything they hold dear, leaving them broken and spiritually bankrupt. It also affects the people closest to them, draining them both emotionally and financially, and sometimes even leaving them feeling responsible.
Making the choice to enter a residential-style treatment program is brave, admirable, and a great step in practicing selflessness as an integral part of recovery. Residential-style treatment doesn’t have to have negative condemnation or a struggle. The individual is essentially surrendering to the idea that their life is unmanageable and is bravely letting go in order to get better. It’s not easy: there will be moments of self-doubt and emotional hardship. When they put down the drink and drug and start to dig up the past, it can feel as though all nerve endings are exposed, because they haven’t had to feel in a long time. Putting one foot in front of the other, one day at a time eventually transforms the once hopeless individual from a shell of a person to someone who can face life fearlessly, and someone who has the ability to show up for life: a life that is full of joy and continuous gifts. Treatment provides the tools needed to maintain long-term sobriety and is worth the temporary loss of independence in order to have a full and rewarding life.