“What is the solution?” says the wife of an addict, the mother of and alcoholic, and the addicts and alcoholics who have had enough.
To the family member, the solution may be anything that can make their loved one stop using drugs and alcohol. Anything that returns their loved one back to them. It’s common for family members to say they just want the old person back again. That looks like a successful solution to them. Is this wrong?
Of course not, a loved one wants what’s best for the addict and anything that looks like a better life compared to the current chaos will do. However, returning that person would just be a different version of the same untreated addict that hasn’t found his/her drug of choice yet. This “old person” is the person that could not stand to be present in their own life and needed to medicate in some way.
To the addict/alcoholic, the drugs and/or alcohol is not the problem. Rather it is the solution to the problem and removing this solution is fear-inducing. This usually explains why addicts behave irrationally about protecting our solution. Drugs and alcohol become the solution to the anxious feelings, the feelings of insecurity, traumatic memories, anger, etc. At some point, the addict found the answer to their problem, or at least a solution to the way they felt about the problem.
For many they don’t even need to know the problem to find the solution. So, the solution may look very for everyone involved. The common ground for everyone involved in the situation is a hope for a new and better life. Regardless of the treatment method chosen, the focus must not be solely on how to avoid taking drugs and alcohol.
This new and better life will require many changes. Many of the changes can be learned while in treatment but must be implemented once the recovering person is back in the real world. This is part of the gap that exists in the treatment continuum.
Treating addiction and addictive behaviors is important but only to the extent that the addict is able to live a life of selfless service, honesty, and to reconnect with the world around them.
Brian Howard MA, LADC-MH is a Licensed Alcohol, Drug, and Mental Health Counselor at CorAspire Mental Health and Wellness Center. He has experience diagnosing and treating drug addicts, alcoholics, as well as family members impacted by addiction. Brian received a Master’s degree in Substance Abuse Studies from The University of Central Oklahoma. Brian is the founder of One Life Treatment. One Life Treatment approaches treatment in a 6 month outpatient setting utilizing technology, individual sessions, and educational classes/groups. One Life Treatment believes in a whole life approach to treatment that encourages engagement in multiple areas of life such as spiritual, social/relational, emotional, physical, purpose/service, and financial.