Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Recovery Manifesto: Part One

I've been a drug and alcohol counselor for a lot of years--over 30 years, to be more precise. I am also a drug addict and alcoholic (and many other things!) in long-term recovery. Talk to any longtime addiction counselor and they will complain about the treatment field, what it's become, how it is insurance-driven, how much it has changed for the worse, etc., etc. That's not all that surprising, as we get older we are always aware of how small Snickers bars have gotten. I think that, while there are many legitimate aspects of substance abuse treatment to criticize, what I have seen happen over the past twenty years is a philosophical shift that has had some dramatically negative repercussions.

I do not believe that the treatment field understands Recovery.

This is not a criticism of individuals. (Well, maybe a few.) Most of the people I know working in Addiction Treatment are dedicated and hard-working individuals who spend every day going above and beyond the call of duty for their clients. They do whatever they can to help their clients begin to recover from substance use disorders. And much of the time, they are criticized, written-up, and even fired for doing it. In a field that was founded on the concepts of rigorous honesty and social advocacy, counselors in some facilities are discouraged from even identifying themselves as being in recovery, on the basis of some misinformed beliefs about the character of the clients. It's hard to tell who is more demeaned, the counselor or the client. And ask any counselor off the record about the treatment plans they submit to managed care entities in order to get inpatient days and outpatient sessions--a college should offer a class in how to do diagnostic spin doctoring.


My intention here is to write a series of notes based on my beliefs about Recovery. I believe that Recovery is a lifestyle that promotes the physical, emotional and spiritual health of the individual, the family and the community. I believe that the needs of Recovering people are different from those addressed by the treatment establishment.

Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts and feelings.

More to come.

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