Understanding that addiction is an “illness” and not “badness” is a good start.
-Thank you for taking the time to share your work with us, Mr. Lavender! Many addicts refuse to accept the help for treatment. Now, let me ask you…what is the right approach to help someone with this state of mind?
-D.L. Each person must decide for themselves their level of commitment to any recovery process. The number of people who admit themselves freely to hospital for treatment is very small. Usually they are sent by their family or a professional person. The program itself or the professional running the program rarely creates the tipping point for the addict to engage in the treatment process. It is usually the group of addicts they are with that helps the individual addict determines that their life of negative, self-defeating behaviors is insane and must change. The power of the group is the best help. Of course, this is best facilitated by a competent professionally trained therapist in a professionally recognized facility.
-Could a family of an addict be put at high risk of damaging their own health? There are boundaries of their involvement in helping the loved one?
-D.L. The short answer, yes, almost all family members are negatively affected without exception. Families falsely think that they cause addicts’ problems, can control addicts’ behaviors and can cure them if they work hard enough. Family members who think they are responsible for the addict’s plight suffer physical and mental health issues.
-The drug, alcohol or gambling abusers have an irrational behavior. Is self- awareness the cure-all for addiction or part of recovery pursued by your programs? And how important is self- awareness?
-D.L. Sure, it’s irrational. If you attempt to apply logic to addiction, you will drive yourself mad. Addition is a disease, not a moral issue. It isn’t a matter of willpower. The person who thinks, “Have just one drink”, is not an addict and may never understand addiction until it is explained to them.
Hazelden [Betty Ford Foundation] from Minnesota, USA, who created residential treatment in the mid 1940’s, have come to understand that “good practice” treatment consists of three parts- Psychological, Educational and Spiritual.
Fritz Perls – father of gestalt therapy, wrote that you can’t change your behavior unless you figure out what you’re doing. You may never understand “why”’ you’re doing it; simply figure out “what”. Self-awareness to this extent is what works best. Understanding that addiction is an “illness” and not “badness” is a good start.
-If violent abusers who hate their families for their unwillingness to support their addiction express it to you and more, they say they will kill them when they get out, what do you do?
-D.L. In treatment you may not have the luxury of “time” to find out if the addict is psychotic or a sociopathic killer or simply having a bad day. It is important that families learn to stop enabling the addict to stay active in their addiction. When you stop enabling, the addict will be upset because they can no longer manipulate you and they try every angle to move you back into the enabling role.
There are laws in every country regarding this kind of issue. Usually there is confidentiality [according to] laws which prevents the treatment center from communicating with the outside world, specifics of what the addict says or does in treatment. If the professional believes that there is even a slight chance of the addict harming self or others upon discharge from the centre, then the professional is mandated by law to report that concern to the proper authorities and the person who may be the target of harm.
Hopefully there would be a family component to care which would resolve these kinds of thoughts and feelings. This family component of care exists in professional canters with properly educated and trained therapists.
This is just one key issue which should prompt families and professionals referrers who seek treatment for addicts to investigate treatment facilities to find out if the staff are actually who they say they are. Investigate to find out if the staffs possess the education, training, degrees, credentials, work experience and knowledge to provide the services they claim.
-Can we draw a red line between addicts’ will to recover in rehab centers and “must go”, legally and morally, if they threaten people’s lives? How do you see it?
-D.L. Families who feel hopeless and helpless often call on professional Interventionists to help get the addict into treatment. There are also criminals who stand before a judge in a court who gives the option of jail or treatment. This may be [a matter of] semantics, but no one has ever “recovered” in a treatment center. In a treatment center, addicts are given the tools to engage in a lifetime of recovery process. It’s thought that an addict gets about 10 to 15 percent of recovery in a Rehab and their lifetime of working a program of recovery is their job. This is most successful in programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous. A person can be “in recovery” or in relapse, they are never “recovered”.
Legally, people can be given options…going to prison or rehab. It is foolish to engage the word “morality” to a disease. If someone had cancer or diabetes, would you apply a label of willpower or morality to that disease? No sensible person would and yet many still attach a morality to the disease of addiction. It is simply the way the brain is wired. It is about 10 percent of any population that suffer with addiction. For example, 90 percent of people can drink responsibly, and 10 percent cannot.
-How a patient is being treated for addiction associated with physical dependence?
-D.L. Physical dependence is always addressed with a proper medical detox regimen. Addicts must remain physically safe while detoxing. Psychological dependence is also addressed. If this query is in reference to a Medical Model treatment program, you’re only treating one part of the person, not the whole person.
Soon more to the story…