This is a message every responsible treatment program needs to hear. Families are desperate to save their loved one and they are looking to purchase something we can’t promise. It drives home the importance of providing good care and communicating the limitations of treatment. I’ve been using an obesity analogy more and more. That going to residential treatment is a lot like going to a residential weight loss program. The patient is going to get lots of structure, support, information and skills that will help them lose weight. If everything goes well, they’ll come out looking great, feeling strong, proud and motivated. BUT, we all know that what happens in the weeks and months after the program is going to be critical.
This is why it’s important for us to use approaches that:
help patients construct personal narratives and identities around recovery rather than pathology;
emphasize long term monitoring, support and early re-intervention;
build social support for long-term change (social anchors too!);
address structural/environmental factors like exposure to temptation and access to good food and exercise equipment; and
help the patient examine the roles of other lifestyle factors, like employment.
Looking back now we recognize the common ingredients of communities that affect a true change, for not only sobriety but long-term recovery. We need more. Communities and see the addict and the mentally ill the patients not problems; facilities that are able to treat these diseases concurrently; communities that are built upon humanity not humiliation; that encourage mutual respect, meaningful work and purpose; communities that afford the individual with the necessary time in order to restructure long-held habits; communities that encourage honesty and openness; communities to see beyond addictive actions labeled as bad and envision the value of the individual–the value in his recovery. We need to grow communities to become a culture of inclusiveness and helping.