Addicts and Addiction

As everything becomes addictive, addiction itself is being redefined. It’s now referred to mostly as substance use disorder, and a lot of research is going into varying methods of treatment.

After a lot of review and experience, my preferred approach is done through the Freedom Model. Evidence-based, research-based, it focusses on changing one’s behaviors and simply planning a better way of living. Simple though not necessarily easy, the St. Jude retreats which employ the freedom model enjoy an independently verified 62.5% success rate over the last 28 years.

For whatever reason, I am always befriending addicts and recovering addicts. It’s no doubt because addiction exists in my family history and I’m used to being around them. It’s also no doubt because I can be addicted to almost anything and have learned that I have to develop habits that lean away from abuse of anything which is a cause for addiction. It’s also just true that the people that I befriend are simply peopel that I like and enjoy being around.

Things that Happen in Substance Use Disorder

I’m not a scientist and don’t claim to be. But in my experience, main things that come to be is that a person starts to lead two (or more) very different lives. There is the public life and the public persona, and there is an often hard-core secretive life going on which is kept from view of just about everyone – loved ones, colleagues, friends. As things develop and the secretive life becomes more pronounced, distrust develops. People know that something doesn’t add up. Signs of substance abuse will appear, and the distrust grows. Then the user experiences confusion and shame and is unable to relate to those who care the most, who are often appalled at behaviors they don’t understand and more than likely have never considered doing on their own. Drama ensues.

So the substance abuser starts befriending and relying on others like him or herself, and the bar gradually grows lower as lifestyle and health degenerate. Soon, our friend, colleague, family member, whoever, is hanging with a completely different crowd that polite society will find disturbing. (This does beg the question of who wants to be involved in polite society. Many start turning to substances as distractions from what they perceive to be “polite society”, instead of learning how to cope and function in their own strength and power wherever they may choose to do so.)

The label of “addict” further complicates things. Many will disagree here but I’m not out to have a battle of words over research being done. Considering that their loved one needs to “hit rock bottom”, many will push and push and push until they actually do hit rock bottom and are completely destroyed or suicidal.

Other ways to Go About Things

First, it’s always best to get to know every side of any individual that we care about, work with, or consider a friend. The deep dark secretive side needs friendship and understanding just as much as the social side because one caught in substance abuse, considering themselves locked in for life – which they’re not – become dis-integrated. Befriending a whole person allows for them to start reconciling various aspects of their life into a cohesive and well-integrated personality. Professional help is always recommended, but we can each do our part.

If a man or woman is made in the image and likeness of God, why would you take away their power by telling them that they have no power over their habits? It’s ultimately very simply about changing one’s habits and working on the integration of the personality, so that who one is in one situation is consistent with who one actually is in all (or most) situations. I mean, we all have somethings we keep to ourselves. And we certainly act differently according to the situations in which we find ourselves.

The 12 Steps

The twelve step model is great and wonderful. However it doesn’t have a huge success rate in treatment, and many people aren’t wont to partake in it.

At their core, the 12 steps actually very Catholic. Don’t be surprised. The 12 Steps acknowledge a problem, give it to God and the rest is really a spiritual program. Reliance upon the Lord, taking stock through an examination of life and conscience, Confession, satisfaction, amendment of life, and passing along the good news.

The Freedom Model

From the program book of the St. Jude model:

“Here’s the bottom line: for every successful person who stays stuck in the recovery culture, there are at least three more people who struggle with equal or worse substance use habits, who successfully overcome them and move on with their lives without any treatment whatsoever. And they do this not as fragile “recovering addicts” in need of constant support, but rather as individuals living a lifestyle whose futures are not defined by their past problems.

In Closing

Currently, there is certainly no one size fits all equation for dealing with substance abuse disorders. However, attaching a label to someone for life is detrimental, and goes against the research being done in the most successful quarters of the treatment industry. As you can tell, I’m a fan of the Freedom Model and their St. Jude Retreats. I’m also supportive of everyone who simply kicks their habits on their own, replacing the negative habits with the good. We all have to do that in life anyway.

Learn, love, pray.

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