A Glimpse of Hope
On a bad day, it’s easy to imagine a life without alcohol or drugs: the end of cravings, hangovers, trashed relationships, financial woes, wrecked health. This must stop! This may the first step in discovering recovery. A few clean days go by, and you start to feel better. Things start looking up.
The bad news, of course, is that cravings return, and the cycle begins again. You have likely heard that recovery happens “one day at a time.” Sadly, active alcoholism and drug addiction are an everyday state of mind, too. How does one discover recovery and then keep it?
The Gift of Desperation
When the misery of an alcoholic or addict overcomes the will to keep using, what we call the gift of desperation sometimes happens. It goes by many names: the bottom, the moment of clarity, a foxhole prayer, a cry for help. Whatever the name, it’s the potential turning point. It’s an admission that recovery can’t be done alone, and the beginning of a new willingness to accept help.
In Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, page 24, the writers state:
Under the lash of alcoholism, we are driven to A.A., and there we discover the fatal nature of our situation. Then, and only then, do we become as open-minded to conviction and as willing to listen as the dying can be. We stand ready to do anything which will lift the merciless obsession from us.
If you or a loved one are becoming open-minded to accepting help, then you are in a state of grace, no matter how dark times seem. If not, do not despair. The gateway to a new life may open in other ways.
Interventions vs. Confrontations
One such gateway is an intervention. Since an addict or alcoholic usually lives in denial that he is bodily and mentally different from his fellows, sometimes an outside influence can tip the scales. However, it’s easy for an intervention to become a confrontation. You can avoid this with the help of an experienced person or professional. We do not recommend reading some tips online and jumping headlong into the project. Just as recovery is rarely accomplished without the aid of people who have been there, the same can be said of interventions.
Successful interventions are planned, rehearsed, positive, and specific. They include the offer of a specific, prearranged treatment plan. Discovery Place counselors can help you plan an intervention and understand which type of solution is best for the person struggling with addiction. We are less concerned you choose Discovery Place as you or the one you love gets the right help to begin a new life free from drugs and alcohol. Having a specific plan is crucial, as is a plan for failure. Many interventions do not result in the person taking the bit. Take heart. A seed has been planted that may eventually result in a positive outcome.
Court ordered treatment
Another entry point for recovery sometimes comes via the legal system. A judge orders it as a condition of leniency for this or that arrest. To be frank, hard experience shows us that court-ordered treatment has mixed success. Yet sometimes, the prospect of incarceration triggers the “gift of desperation.” Many defiant skeptics, exposed to a positive recovery community at the right moment, have discovered a design for living that sets him on a path to freedom.
Detox vs. Recovery
In choosing the right type of recovery plan, here are some important considerations:
Is detox necessary?
A person who has severe physical dependence on alcohol or drugs may need professional medical care when stopping. This is particularly true of addictions to painkillers and opioids. Physical withdrawal symptoms, along with other health complications, make quitting “cold turkey” without medical supervision dangerous. Possible symptoms include:
- nausea or vomiting
Severe alcoholism also may require medically supervised detox. While the period of withdrawal may be less violent, it can be very grave.
A detoxed person is not recovered. Physical withdrawal symptoms may be gone, but without a treatment plan, relapse looms. It’s common for one just past his initial period of withdrawal to think he’s back in control. But a person without a plan eventually winds up right back where he was, or worse. This is where discovering recovery comes in, beyond abstinence to living “happy, joyous, and free.”
What’s the Difference Between a Treatment Center, Retreat, and a Halfway House?
You may encounter information from places going by different descriptions. While there are few regulations governing naming of recovery establishments, here are some general rules of thumb.
Rehab, Treatment and Detox centers
Rehab, treatment and detox centers often offer medical care and treatment. Some are licensed to prescribe and administrate meds to help with physical withdrawal symptoms, particularly for opiate addicts. After detox, they usually recommend and present a range of recovery programs and services. Terms vary 30 days to longer.
Any legitimate treatment center also offers options and recommendations for living after the initial term. Ask what they offer, and if they have any hard numbers on the success of their aftercare programs.
Because treatment centers often have medical staff, liabilities, and regulatory concerns, they can be expensive. Many take insurance, though this depends on an individual’s policy.
Retreats may offer similar services, but often without medical detox or drug therapy. Discovery Place is such a retreat. We offer solutions based on the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. While Discovery Place can handle limited, controlled dosing of already-prescribed medications, we do not offer detox or medical services.
The focus of many retreats such as ours is learning how to get sober and stay sober. We believe that stopping using or drinking is only a beginning, and a person who wants to live free of addiction needs a clear design for living. Discovery Place offers 30, 60, and 90 day programs, along with continuing care and step-down plans.
Some confuse halfway houses, which are a type of step-down residence, for treatment centers and retreats. The best halfway houses help with the transition back to “civilian” life with structure, support, and a lower-cost place to live. While this support is often critical to prevent relapse after treatment, we do not recommend living in a halfway house as a substitute for a reputable rehab center or retreat.
Does size matter?
It’s not the acreage of the campus, the size of the population, or the advertising budget that means most. The key is the quality of fellowship and individual guidance a man receives. That’s why Discovery Place is intentionally a smaller, more tightly-knit recovery community, which has definite advantages:
- More individual attention and mentorship
- Fewer distractions
- Stronger and more meaningful relationships with others in recovery
- Friendship and community
- Lower cost
What About AA or NA Meetings Instead of “Going Away?”
We know many who have come to sobriety by joining programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous without an in-patient residence. Yet it may be that you or someone you care about will need more than the recommended standard of “90 meetings in 90 days” to start a new way of life. This is particularly true of those who attend meetings without engaging in the program, and those with preconceived prejudices about 12-Step recovery.
Without an immersive “jump start” of at least 30 days, some suffering from alcohol and addiction may find sobriety elusive. (Even a person going to three meetings a day has 21 other hours to get in trouble.) That said, we encourage anyone struggling with addiction to try AA, NA, or the appropriate 12-Step program because there are people at every meeting helping one other stay sober. Likewise, we recommend attendance to 12-Step meetings to everyone who has completed his stay with us.
The 12 Steps
Discovery Place bases its approach on the steps and principles of AA as outlined in the book Alcoholics Anonymous, also called the “Big Book.” These include the acknowledgement of powerlessness over alcohol or drugs, complete abstention, self-examination, amends, and service to others.
We are certainly not unique in our use of the 12 Steps. In fact, most facilities use some form of the 12 Steps in the course of treatment, though not always all. Meanwhile, centers promising sobriety through a variety of other means advertise regularly in every medium. Articles questioning effectiveness of the 12 Steps appear in magazines, newspapers and online publications. They often question the spiritual element of the program.
We offer no rebuttal. In fact, we will go on and say that we do not believe “the steps” are the only way to stop using or drinking. We also say that the 12 Steps require no religious conversion or to abandon agnosticism or aetheism. It is simply our experience is that the practice of the spiritual principles of the 12 Steps, taken one at a time with honest, dedicated sponsors, produces whole lives.
Location & Length of Stay
The Geographic fix
Sometimes, an alcoholic or addict who knows he has a problem will move to another community, another state, or even all the way across the country to escape addiction. This is known in recovery communities as “the geographic fix.” It never works, since the problem always comes along for the ride. As the saying goes, “Wherever you go, there you are.”
It is a not a change in geography as much as a change in community that is needed. Yet there is an essential truth in the idea of getting away from the daily pathways of the alcoholic or addict. Without a change of habits and haunts, the cravings can get the better of the best-intentioned.
Many centers are located out in the country for this reason. We ourselves are located in the rolling hills of Burns, Tennessee, near Dickson and about a half-hour’s interstate drive from Nashville. A full-time getaway “off the grid” relieves the pressure of daily life during the critical early days of becoming sober, providing structure, encouragement, and guidance. The serene environment helps a person focus on simply discovering recovery.
This is always on the mind of any addict or alcoholic entering a facility for the first time. There are, of course, cost factors, but most are anxious to know just how long this “cure” is going to take. The answer is a single day—today—and a lifetime of days taken together. Treatment is but a beginning, but for many it means the difference between life and death.
At Discovery Place, a first stay is usually 30 days. From there, one may choose to stay longer, and may do. This depends on several factors, including the a person’s mental condition, length of active addictions, past relapses, and his willingness to participate in his own recovery.
Life After 30 Days
The beginning of a better life
Any stay in a treatment center or rehab facility is a critical first step. Most glimpse that simply not drinking or using is only the beginning. Others are eager to get out and begin new lives. Some feel shaky and wish to stay beyond 30 days to get firmer footing.
Many facilities offer extended treatment programs with options for up to 120 days and even longer. Afterward, they will present a clear a plan of action which may include residence at a reputable halfway house, regular attendance at AA meetings, sponsorship, and service work. The best centers and retreats will be able to make recommendations based on the individual need of the addict without regard to its own business or financial considerations. Discovery Place has extended treatment options. Talk to us.
Here are key things to remember when choosing among recovery options:
- It can’t be done alone.
- Is the person willing?
- Will the person need detox or medical treatment?
- Does the person need a treatment center, retreat, or halfway house?
- A geographic fix is not the answer.
- What about costs?
- What about aftercare?