The National Institute on Drug Abuse classifies drug addiction as “a complex illness characterized by intense, and at times, uncontrollable drug craving, along with compulsive drug seeking and use that persist even in the face of devastating consequences”.
I agree with their sentiment and in my profession time and time again I have seen these “devastating consequencess”, broken hearts, pain and suffering, however I am always reminded of how resilient we are as humans and I am always hopeful for a brighter future. One of the most beautiful and powerful things about my work in interventions is that many times I get to be there in the moment that it finally clicks for someone, the moment that they realize they might not have to go on fighting anymore, that if they surrender, everything in their life can change. Don’t get me wrong, it is not an easy road and the recovery journey can be painful and at times seemingly unbearable, but in the end the reward is a life worth living and a life with the living.
There are many times of drug abuse treatment out there and the best types of treatment incorporate many different aspects so that addiction can be overcome, step by step. In the 12-step program of AA, the disease of alcoholism is often referred to as “cunning, baffling and powerful”, and for this reason the treatment of addiction must be more cunning, baffling and powerful. I recently came across an article in which a doctor discusses the benefits of compassionate treatment as opposed to confrontational treatment. He mentions how empowering individuals through what he calls “collaborative treatment” can be life changing because instead of just telling a person what to do to overcome addiction, collaborative treatment helps this individual make the right decisions for his or herself.
One of the techniques that he employed had to do with asking a series of questions that were hypothetical. In the case of the client he talks about, the client is addicted to cocaine and it is causing destructive consequences in his life - he is about to lose his job, his girlfriend, he can no longer find real meaning in his life and so on. The doctor asks him to consider what it would be like if he just set a few days aside in the month to go on a cocaine binge as opposed to doing it daily or weekly. In the end, the conclusion that the young addict drew was that he would not be able to do this type of controlled use and possibly for the first time he was able to do a little self-examination that led to him cutting back or stopping his use. Giving people the choice to make the right decision by themselves is one of the best treatment techniques that I have seen and can lead to long-term, sustained recovery.
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Cindy Nichols is the founder of 411 Intervention, a full-service intervention resource that helps individuals with addiction issues find treatment solutions. You can see an interview with Cindy here on Recovery Now TV.