Addiction is a very complex illness.
According to a 2016 study by the American Society of Addiction Medicine, accidental overdose is the leading cause of death in the United States. More deaths are happening now by accidental overdose than by car accidents.
Addiction is 100% treatable.
Like most health challenges a person faces in their lifetime, the origins of addiction stem from some personal combination of nature and nurture. Due to the nature of physical dependence, every human, EVERY human, lies somewhere on the spectrum of addiction severity. This spectrum on the far end is ‘no dependence today’ and can progress through mild severity all the way to extreme, chronic use (addiction) with many life consequences.
Add in environmental stressors, traumatic experiences, attachment disruption in childhood, and it’s no wonder most humans have some level of dependence on a substance or behavior whether it’s alcohol, narcotics, iPhones, gambling, spending, Netflix, or sugar. Gabor Mate said it best, “When the present moment is intolerable, altering the present moment becomes a remedy.” We all have this tendency, but recognizing it is the first step toward making a positive change.
There are Many Roads to Recovery
Because addiction is so individualized, there are, of course, many different and often opposing camps for how to best treat it. What addiction recovery specialists, including regular members of 12 step recovery programs, can agree on is that substance or behavioral ‘use’ in its moderate to severe form is a coping strategy that a person seeks out either consciously or unconsciously to manage life stressors, life dissatisfaction, or other deeper challenging experiences such as unresolved trauma, mental health diagnoses, and/or external or internal oppression. It is a valiant attempt to create some distance between that which is intolerable.
Marin Family Recovery works with each individual to find the method that best fits the person’s individual style and support needs.
Creating a Personalized Recovery Plan
The complexity of addiction must be appreciated when determining the best way to go about working with an individual. A clinician must consider the client’s personal aspects of nature and nurture that is underneath the use pattern as well as the larger external systems in which the unhealthy or ineffective coping strategy is needed and/or thrives. The beauty of addiction treatment is that our human bodies have this brilliant resiliency, an innate desire to heal itself from that which is intolerable, and therefore, once an individualized treatment plan is determined, healing can and will take place so long as there is willingness to participate in an honest way.
Barriers to Obtaining Recovery
- The first barrier is when the system around the client underestimates the client’s ability to heal, and therefore, unknowingly contributes to keeping the person ill by over helping. For the client, the unhealthy coping strategy remains their best and easiest go-to option. If it isn’t broken, why fix it?
- The second barrier is when the client struggles with appreciating the magnitude of addiction and just how difficult it is to change the habitual coping strategies that at one point in time seemed to be a fun, innocuous way to soothe. This leads to “hedging one’s bets” picking and choosing what’s worth putting effort into, and inconsistent willingness.
- The third and more delicate barrier is when a person’s coping strategies are rooted in calming traumatic memory, emotional flashbacks, fight or flight tendencies, volatility, and/or sleep disturbances that would otherwise gravely interrupt basic day to day functioning. Asking to give up these coping methods could feel like a death sentence or certain annihilation and can become a vicious cycle increasing one’s anxiety.
Understanding the Levels of Care in Addiction Treatment
It is important to emphasize that private psychotherapy may not be the best level of care for an individual in the early stages of addiction treatment. Marin Family Recovery can help an individual and/or the family determine the correct level of structure for optimal safety and treatment outcomes. Typically, an individual’s treatment success correlates with their closest relationships establishing supportive boundaries which can often times seem counterintuitive or even dangerous (see barrier #1 above.)
It is strongly encouraged for parents, spouses, and significant others to participate in one or more therapy sessions for their own support in what can feel like a roller coaster journey. Marin Family Recovery also provides resources for clients and loved ones to browse for additional education support.