I want to say right off the bat that there is no easy answer to this question. That in the next thousand or so words I will not solve the problem of addiction treatment and that I may not even offer anything new to the subject, but still, I think that it is an important question to contemplate. I think it is important to see what the general preconceived notion is to why addiction treatment often times does not work the first time around, and to look at what we could possibly do to change this.
The general co-conscious is that when a person does not get clean and sober, it is their fault. Some people will say that they are not ready yet, or they are not being honest with themselves and are still denying the insanity of active addiction or any other number of things that lead to the conclusion that the addict is at fault for their not getting sober. And in full disclosure, I would tend to agree to a certain extent. I am of the belief that a person cannot get sober until they are ready to, but I also believe that we can create circumstances where we allow this readiness to be achieved during treatment.
The reason that I feel this way is because of what I have seen in my time in recovery. I have noticed that there are some people who come into drug treatment with no desire to stop and yet after a few months of being in a facility they begin to see that the problem isn’t the drugs or the alcohol, but the problem is themselves.
When this happens they then become ready to receive the help they need in order to overcome their addiction, but I believe that they may not have received it if they hadn’t been in treatment for as long as they were.
That is where I blame drug treatment for when the addict doesn’t get sober. When they only keep a person for 30 days and then unleash them back into the world. Yes, not everyone needs to even go to treatment to get sober, as many people around the world have gotten sober by simply walking into a meeting or a church, but for those who do go to treatment, an extended stay is more than likely necessary.
Think of it this way. Let’s say you are doing opiates. The withdrawal and then post-acute withdrawal symptoms are going to last a few weeks at the least. This means that you’ll maybe get a week or two in treatment where you don’t feel physically sick, meaning you have a week or two to actually begin to process what occurred in your addiction. I don’t know about you, but that wouldn’t have been long enough for me and if I wouldn’t have had 6 months in a treatment center I do not know if I would have been able to build the groundwork I needed to remain sober.
Yet we can’t really blame treatment centers for the length of the stay because at the end of the day they are a business and they can’t just let people stay forever because then they will go out of business. So when looking at it from this angle it is clear that the insurance company is also somewhat to blame here. They have systematically reduced the amount of time that they authorize for treatment over the past ten years and in doing so they don’t allow addicts the time needed to truly get help in treatment.
I could follow this chain down to its never-ending conclusion, but that would be pointless and so back to the question at hand, who is to blame for the addict’s failure, I think that the true answer to this question is that it depends on the situation.
There is no blanket answer to drug addiction or alcoholism. There is no pill that can be taken that will remove it from the individual, and that is because it isn’t a disease in the typical sense of the word, or at least as of it yet it hasn’t been discovered to be so.
It is a disease that affects a person spiritually, mentally, and physically, and I personally believe that it is the manifestation of a soul sickness, one that every person on this planet suffers from, but for the addict or alcoholic, it is expressed through the compulsive abuse of substances. So how do you actually go about creating a proper treatment plan that can take all of that into account? You can’t really. You can simple set up guidelines and a path and hope that the person walks down it.
In the end, the choice to get sober does rest with the addict. There are exceptions to this if the person has other co-occurring mental health issues that are unaddressed, but for the most part, an addict must make the decision that they want help, and until they make this decision, nothing can really be done. You can keep them in treatment for long stints and hope that they will realize how futile their existence has become, but even then if they don’t want to see it they won’t.
This is not to say that we shouldn’t keep trying and shouldn’t keep coming up with ways in which to better serve our alcoholic and addicted brethren, but that we should have realistic expectations on what the treatment process is. It is not a cure and it is not perfect. It does work for thousands of people, but there are much more that won’t get it. This is partially their own fault, partially their diseases’ fault, and partially the failing of our society who makes it difficult for addiction to be seen as a proper disease that should be treated as such. And I guess in the end it doesn’t really matter whose fault it is, the only thing that matters is that we try to help people to get sober.
Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.