“Just the Recovery You Want – Addiction Counseling Services and Bending the Rules”
Rules, Shmules, How About You Just Listen to Me?
Believe it or not, addiction counseling services have established guidelines to follow. It’s easy to track them down, if you’re so inclined. The National Institute for Drug Abuse has them posted on their website. But they’re not guidelines, not really. They’re called “principles of effective treatment.” And Recreate Life’s addiction counseling team thinks this is a happy thing.
We think it’s a happy thing because principles are fluid. Principles allow room to maneuver, even as they keep addiction therapy grounded in what’s good for the client. Healing, true healing, can flow from principles. Principles give clients and addiction conselors a place to start without being oppressive. Guidelines and rules? Not so much.
One of the principles on NIDA’s list says treatment should address all of a client’s needs, not just their drug use. Notice how it doesn’t say anything about what sort of techniques the therapist should use. And it doesn’t say what these needs are either. It just says that treatment should address them. Addiction counseling can only address these needs by listening to the client and taking what they hear seriously.
Bending the Rules to Get Results
Now this doesn’t mean anything goes in addiction therapy. Effective treatment provides structure and guidance for struggling addicts. But therapists are human too. Sometimes, they’re going to default back to techniques that have worked in the past, whether they fit perfectly now or not. But by staying vigilant and responsive, a good addiction counselor always returns to listening mode pretty quick.
Every therapist and treatment has these default modes. They’re like unstated guidelines for their practice, rules if you will. This is just human nature. But effective treatment (and counselors) have fluidity preinstalled. They’re designed in a way to respond constantly to the client’s changing needs. They’re designed in a way that allows for bending the rules, or breaking them if need be. Their principles demand it.
What emerges under these conditions is a collaboration. This is where change and healing begin. When there’s an active give and take between treatment and client, anything is possible. Addiction counseling should never be in the business of imposing values. Addicts already have values, even if they’re buried under a ton of pain and confusion. It’s a treatment’s job to start hauling off the wreckage, so clients can start to dig however they see fit.
“Science vs Spirituality? No, Science AND Spirituality”
Recreate Life Counseling — So while I was doing my research last week, looking for something topical that fit the spirit of what the fine folks at Recreate Life Counseling do for addicts and alcoholics every day, I found an article about a drug that apparently DESTROYS the euphoric memories associated with cocaine use. It’s only been used on mice so far, at least in this capacity, but it’s actually a cancer treatment drug that humans have used safely for years. It’s neuroscience stuff, and therefore really complicated, but the upshot is this: it’s a drug that shows great promise in eliminating the terrible cravings that make early recovery from the use of cocaine and other drugs. More importantly though, at least for our purposes, is how this experiment points to an unnecessary tension between the findings of science and the spiritual approach to recovery so often emphasized in support and treatment centers. It’s a minefield that counselors at Recreate Life Counseling negotiate constantly, so I wanted to expound on this a bit.
It’s something you encounter all the time, even at Recreate Life Counseling, scientifically minded folks and people who emphasize spirituality and connectedness eyeballing one another suspiciously across the table, as though they were different teams trying to win a game that doesn’t exist. The Science vs Spirituality game doesn’t exist because there’s nothing to contest, nothing to fight about. Science vs Spirituality is a made up distinction, what fancy philosopher types call a false binary. There’s just one team, folks. And the only way to win is to reduce the terrible suffering and social costs of active addiction. Recreate Life Counseling understands this implicitly, and offers the best of both worlds in their therapeutic models, but for some reason the wider world doesn’t get this yet and the phony debate rages on.
Look, I don’t know much. But I can read and I can be open minded when staying all sewn up starts to hurt too much. And everything I’ve read and seen tells me this: that science and spirituality end up doing remarkably similar things and need each other more than they realize. If I go to Recreate Life Counseling for my cocaine addiction, they’re not just going to give me a pill that eliminates my craving for drugs and send me on my way. If they did, I’d be back in a month with brand new cravings from all the coke I snorted while I was away. That’s because I don’t know to live! I don’t know how to connect or treat people. That’s where the emphasis on spirituality at Recreate Life Counseling comes in – it teaches me what I don’t know. And the reverse holds true as well. If there’s a chemical solution to my chemical part of my disease, I want you to give to me!
So what we need is humility, true humility and an honest desire to solve the problem. And both these traits tell me that I don’t have all the answers. They tell me that Science vs Spirituality is a false debate. And they tell me that what the world needs is to heal, not ague.