How many times?

I recently received a phone call from a woman who, among other things, talked about her brother having been through “rehab” over a dozen times. I noted that he is certainly the “Poster Boy” for Minnesota Model treatment programs.

This revolving door is exactly what “Facilitated 12 Step” is designed to promote. Any outcome except recovery is, in their view, a good outcome.

Again, I am not talking about line staff who, for the most part, are poorly educated people who fall into the category of those for whom AA “works” and who aren’t capable of understanding that because something works for them doesn’t mean it’ll work for anyone else.

Even worse, conscientious “counselors” are those who’ve been caught at a vulnerable time in their lives, and brainwashed into the cult which they too then espouse – until one day they realize that they have unwittingly become part of the problem.

Setting that all aside for just a minute – why would anyone subject themselves, or anyone else, to a dozen trips through the rehab mill? Once, okay. Maybe even twice. But after that it should be clear to everyone that this is not a viable approach for this person – unless you’ve been successfully brainwashed into “It’s the only way.” Which is what “family days” or “family week” is such an important adjunct to keeping you coming back, and paying for, more and more.

“How could you deny your son (daughter, spouse, mother, etc.) the chance to be freed from the grip of their ‘disease’?”

Of course self-medication is not a disease, it’s a symptom. Following up on that is another reality that some people don’t want to be “cured.”

Which brings us full circle to there is no one-size-fits-all, no magic bullet, no effortless solution.

As with any form of short term therapy, if progress isn’t happening, then it’s time to change approaches, programs, therapists, counselors, or all of the foregoing.

Derailment isn’t destiny.

Many of us have been derailed at some point or points in our lives. Avalanched by events beyond our control, victimized by toxic people, laid low by traumas of varying degrees, and ambushed by circumstances gone awry.

Many of us have sought refuge in a bottle, which is both understandable and, in the short run, possibly even appropriate.

But then along comes the aftermath.

One of the problems associated with alcohol use is that it prevents healing. Everyday dawns with the grief, disbelief, PTSD, and other conditions as fresh as it was in the beginning – with the only “solution” being another bottle of one’s preferred elixir.

Many of us postpone the discomfort, and in some cases agony, of going through the healing and coming out the other side battered, perhaps, but not destroyed, and with a tougher armor against future assaults.

That, however, requires a clear head and the willingness to learn.

Consider the person who wishes to lose a certain amount of weight. They join a gym, hire a trainer, and learn the rudimentary exercise and diet management. Then, after a month, they drop out, and a year later they cancel the auto-payment on their credit card.

What happened? It took some effort, the results weren’t instantaneous, the trainer didn’t “do it” for you, and so on.

Recovering from trauma based self-medication works pretty much the same way.

You’re going to need to stop medicating, at least for a while. It’ll be time to internalize some new coping skills like CBT and assertiveness. You’ll need to figure out what motivates you. Assessing your legal, medical and financial situation helps – you can’t make changes without knowing what you have to work with.

Hardest of all, you have to maintain change until you have created a “new normal” that involves healing, coping, and envisioning a desired future.

That’s a lot to manage and can be facilitated by a bit of skillful assistance – just as learning the gym and diet routines that work for you can be facilitated by a very good trainer.

In either case, the counselor or trainer should be moving you along to a point where you no longer need them. If they are, instead, fostering dependence, find a new source of support.

Need more detail? That’s why we do free consultations. Call or email. We’ll help you gather all of the information you need to make an informed decision. No charge, regardless of whether or not you decide to use our services, go elsewhere, or do nothing at all.