Finding Paradigms in Recovery that Work For You
There’s a gradual and inexorable shift in addiction treatment which embraces more possibilities and treatment paradigms beyond our present disease model of addiction and utilizing 12-step groups as a means to somehow slow and stabilize the progression of what’s been termed a “chronic, progressive, and incurable disease.”
The unfortunate reality of present-day addiction treatment is that scientific knowledge and medical research have played a very minimal role in treating addiction within the United States. A medical condition (drug dependence) has been criminalized, and a faith-based solution has been presented as a mandatory alternative to incarceration for many people. Drug courts routinely sentence individuals to attend 12-step meeting as an alternative to jail or prison. While this is an improvement over the extremely repressive practice of imprisoning people for the crime of altering their state of consciousness
In the process of criminalizing a medical condition (drug dependence) and coercing individuals to attend faith-based AA and NA programs as a something that can in some way slow or abate the “disease” of addiction, the entire treatment process has turned into something of a bad joke. While the definition of what constitutes a religion can vary dramatically, they tend to have a collection of things in common, one of the central tenets of religion is a belief in some sort of God.
12 Step meetings open with the serenity prayer, which directly meets 2 of the 4 criteria for religious activity (ritualized prayer and a belief in God). This is usually followed by a featured speaker or members of the audience telling war stories about their drug use and describing their shame and lack of hope before coming to their senses and joining AA or NA. The Big Book is filled with religious elements and devotes an entire chapter to attacking atheists and other non-believers as being “crazy” and presents belief in a “higher power” as the only means to restore “sanity.”
A medical condition, drug dependence, has been criminalized, and a faith-based solution, 12 step meetings, have been presented as an answer. Within this process ASAM’s (the American Society of Addiction Medicine) concept of medical ethics have become completely meaningless. Clinicians have the legal obligation to uphold and respect a patients’ rights and are not allowed to delegate “to any non-medical person any matter requiring the exercise of professional medical judgment.” Yet clinicians working within the medical community who are part of ASAM frequently pass patients off to counselors or recovery coaches, who are usually drug addicts in recovery themselves, with little or no medical training.
It’s relatively easy to point out what’s wrong with conventional addiction treatment: almost everything. What’s important is finding things that work For You.
Everybody is Not The Same
Despite NA’s assertion that everybody is the same, a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach to engineering your recovery, rarely works for the vast majority of individuals.
A short list of helpful ideas post-ibogaine treatment would include:
- Get away form the environment in which you used drugs. Take a vacation, go camping, go far away to an aftercare facility that has resonance for you. But basically: get out of your old environment!
- Exercise. It doesn’t matter what form of exercise you do, try yoga, mountain climbing, cardio, weight training, swimming, biking, anything and everything. If you don’t try anything, you’ll never find what’s right for you. The reality is that exercise — much like sex — releases endorphins and it will make you feel better without resorting to drugs.
- Pay attention to your diet. This seems to be easier for people post-ibogaine. Many individuals gain an interest in nutrition after cleaning up and getting off drugs for the first time in a very long period of time.
- Avoid triggers: if you eventually have to return to your old environment, then stay away from people you used drugs with. Don’t hang out in places where you have many memories of getting high. Do everything within your power to change your environment!
- Have some kind of plan in place for how you’re going to deal with cravings and urges when they inevitably arrive. What will you do when the desire to use drugs is extremely high? Figure out what your answer is, before it becomes an acute emergency. Reasonable plans including calling someone and making arrangements to go out somewhere. Go to a movie, go for a walk, go the gym, do something other than drugs.
- Expand your horizons: take some classes or read a book. Fill up some of the free time that’s become available to you now that you’re no longer on the endless treadmill of getting money to get drugs to get high (or get straight). Use all that energy in some way that is beneficial to you.
- Get a therapist who you have resonance with. You need to build trust and establish a relationship with someone with whom you can openly talk about and address your personal issues and problems which are at the core of your addiction. The importance of having such a person in your life cannot be overstated.
- Try to get enough sleep on a regular basis. If you’re stressed and tired all the time, your recovery is jeopardized. Don’t wear yourself out trying to do everything all at once. Learn how to relax and be kind to yourself.
- While the 12 steps don’t work for many people, they work for some. Try to attend a few meetings in different locations and see if you can find one that has resonance for you. If this doesn’t work out for you, then try to follow at least some of their advice, take what you find useful, leave the rest, and find some kind of support group that does work for you. SMART is an alternative to the 12 step disease & religion model, which works for many individuals. If SMART isn’t for you either, then find SOMETHING ELSE. Having a support system in place is extremely important, especially in the early stages of recovery.
As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you’d like more information about what ibogaine can do for you and your unique life situation.