Addiction and Recovery are in constant relationship: mirroring creative and destructive potentials. Essentially, recovery is a path from despair into hope.
Today we have a plethora of choices: more than any other time in history. This includes the addiction treatment industry; which has been growing for years. However, this doesn’t directly correlate with high outcomes. According to Joseph A. Califano, Jr., Founder of the Center on Addiction, “The therapeutic community claims a 30% recovery rate, but they only count people who complete the program.” The other 70% have dropped out by the 3-6-month marker.
It’s important we create a context for recovery; and make choices that are connected to long-term outcomes. It may not be so clear, in the moment, which choice is leading in which direction. For example, the beginning of addiction can be a lot of fun; even innocent. However, if the intention is to numb out pain or escape something we don’t want to deal with, our actions will serve to solidify that intention. Over time, it will become increasingly harder to break from this cycle.
At the same time, the beginning of a recovery journey can feel horrible. It’s deceiving because, “how could something that feels so bad be leading anywhere good?” This is where faith comes in; blind faith at first. By integrating evidence-based practices and solution-oriented strategies, we begin to create a context for recovery: a paradigm that inspires hope.
I’ve heard it said that grace is the result of friction between striving for a higher good and falling short. As we continue to move in an authentic direction, friction builds, grace is born, and meaningful results begin to show up. This is HOPE IN ACTION!
Instead of succumbing to the status quo, we can look at relevant, but perhaps unknown, solutions. For example, one woman decreased her need for opioid medication by 75% through the use of meditation. In the words of Russell Simmons, “don’t medicate; meditate instead.”
We need to stop enhancing and expanding things that lead to disease and relapse. Rather than making the smoking area a priority (smoking is correlated with relapse), we can create a meditation lounge!
This doesn’t have to be an either/or scenario, but what I’m talking about here is creating a healthy culture; which is intimately connected with outcomes. The actions and behaviors we place in the healing space become the context for our views. If we prioritize actions that are highly correlated with return-to-use, then it will affect our outlook; if only unconsciously.
At the same time, if we surround ourselves with others heading in the same direction, we will most likely end up there too. This study showed that those who attend AA/12-Step meetings are twice as likely to remain abstinent.
We can also look at some of the biological inputs that are mirrored on the infographic above. There is a study linking the viewing of violence (media/movies) to increased aggression, anger, and lack of empathy. Conversely, time in silence and nature has been shown to calm the nervous system; which is crucial in healing the mind, body, and spirit from addiction. Instead of sitting in the tv lounge for hours at time, how about a guided hike or silent walk?
Tommy Rosen, Author and Founder of Recovery 2.0, said, “Part of the reason people relapse is that they do not go into the body through mind-body practices to clear out what is stuck there. When it comes to detoxing and rejuvenating the nervous and endocrine systems, yoga and meditation are indispensable.” This article touches on how and why yoga can be used in treatment. I lead a weekly yoga class in a local treatment center. One client said, “Felt like a spiritual gabapentin; helped with my neuropathy (nerve pain).” When we incorporate a creative process like yoga, rather than a potentially destructive process, like administering Gabapentin, the context shifts from managing lives to changing them.
That inspires me, and I hope it inspires you too!