Myths Of Addiction

It is not uncommon to read the testimonials of those who suffered many years of addiction and claim they found recovery without narcotics anonymous, therapy or any of the usual methods. In fact they claim the seven stints in rehab, years of attendance in AA or NA and CBT therapy were all unsuccessful. Generally these folk are selling something. The fact is recovery from addiction is often a long journey where many tools are gathered along the way and these tools are an basic part of recovery from addiction. Ultimately, these tools and experiences are the cumulative gifts that permit long-term recovery. Each relapse is different and you take what you have learnt while you were clean “this time”.

There is no one size fits all treatment any more than there is an addictive personality. Will strength alone is very doubtful to get you clean long term and yes sometimes a family system does, in fact, play a sizable role in enabling an individual’s addiction. The most important things to remember are that people don’t generally stay clean the first time and when they do get time up they need those closest to them to get help and sustain for themselves. Many times individuals come home after rehab to a family that is nevertheless functioning in an unhealthy state and end up relapsing. Addiction both affects and infects the whole family system.

There is no one profile of who will experience problems with substance abuse or addiction of any kind however many treatments attempt to put forward one guaranteed method to cure addiction. This is simply not possible. There is a combination of factors involved with each and every individual who develops problematic addictions or dependencies and this combination will influence the efficacy of treatment. These are known as the bio, psycho, social factors. Personality kind, family history – both genetic and family ecosystem, social ecosystem such as friends or community and levels of psychological functioning particularly in areas of depression and anxiety. For example a person with high sensitivity and introversion, family history of compulsive or addictive issues (siblings, parents, grandparents), community with high acceptance of substance abuse and high unemployment and adolescent depression is at high risk. Multiple factors such as these may be seen as the perfect storm. Each factor needs to be addressed with a client in an assessment in order for a treatment plan to be formed that will create maximum opportunities for change. There is no point in utilising AA as a part of a treatment plan for someone with social anxiety or arranging for a four week detox and rehab for a client who has been coerced by their parents to speak to you and has expressed no concerns in regards to their drug or alcohol use. Motivational Therapy would be a more productive choice for their initial treatment which would then rule to a more formal treatment plan.

Using only one treatment modality will lose many opportunities to assist clients at potentially high cost to both them and their families and is a dangerous and often ego- pushed practice.

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